Launch of New Forest Walking Festival

Walking festival newsroom

Published Thursday 19 September 2013

Families, nature lovers and history buffs will be immersed in the autumn colours of the National Park with the launch of the first New Forest Walking Festival.

Led by the New Forest National Park Authority and partner organisations, the Walking Festival will showcase some of the area’s best walks during the autumn half term - October 26 to November 3.

Walkers will be led on bespoke experiences by friendly expert guides including archaeologists and National Park rangers, as they explore the unique countryside, wildlife and history of the New Forest. The gentle, flat and internationally important landscapes of the National Park are ideal for all ages, including families.

Highlights include discovering the hidden secrets of ponies, trees and sea-birds, uncovering how salt was worth its weight in gold and exploring where Barack Obama’s grandfather was stationed for D-Day.

Unlike other walking festivals, walkers in the New Forest will be rewarded if they leave their car behind and use public transport to arrive for their guided experiences.

Most of the guided walks are accessible by public transport, and all New Forest National Park organised walks are free for walkers who can show they arrived by bus, train, bike or on foot.

Minibuses will be provided for some walks which have no public transport links. These are again free if walkers can show they reached the pick-up point without a car.

Walkers who arrive by car will be charged, with tickets from £10 per adult or £16 for a family of two adults and up to three children.

Julian Johnson, chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The National Park has long been a popular place for walkers. The autumn in particular is a magical time for a stroll among the fiery reds and golden hues of the New Forest's ancient, ornamental and native trees.

‘However the majority of walks start from car parks which, is not an option for some and forces walkers to use their cars to get here. We wanted to show you really don’t need a car to go for a refreshing walk, and we wanted to reward those who arrive by public transport by making the guided walks free.

‘The festival is new this year and we hope it will grow in future years to become a date to mark down in the calendar.’

Guided walks by partner organisations – including the Forestry Commission, New Forest Association and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust – all start near train stations or bus stops but not all offer a discount for arriving by public transport.

The New Forest Walking Festival is supported in part by a £3.8m Department for Transport grant to encourage car-free travel in the New Forest and South Downs National Parks.

Spaces are limited and booking is required on all walks. Book your space at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/walking_festival

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About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contacts:

Sion Donovan, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority

Tel: 01590 646639

Email: sion.donovan@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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