Walk leaders and local groups invited to take part in the New Forest Walking Festival

New Forest Walking Festival Lyndhurst for web

Published Thursday 26 June 2014

Walk leaders, local businesses and groups are invited to get involved in this year’s New Forest Walking Festival and submit a walk.

After the success of the inaugural event last autumn, the popular festival will double in size this year. There will be at least twice as many guided walks over a fortnight from 18 October to 2 November which includes half term.

The Walking Festival was established last year by the New Forest National Park Authority and partner organisations. It will be sponsored for the first time this year by Stewarts who, amongst other things, have the Garden Centres at Christchurch and Broomhill, Wimborne.

All the walks are led by specialist guides and local experts, highlighting the history, culture and wildlife of the National Park.

But unlike other walking festivals, all the walks are free or discounted for those who leave their cars behind and travel by public transport, by bike or on foot.

Now local groups and walk leaders can submit their own walks for the festival by 18 July. Once checked and approved walks will go live at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/walkingfestival from 1 August. Some walks will also be featured in a festival leaflet which will be distributed across the local area.

Julian Johnson, chairman of the National Park Authority, said: ‘About a dozen organisations are already taking part this year, but we want to give others an opportunity to take part and offer a wider variety of walks.

‘The Walking Festival showcases the unique countryside, wildlife and history of the New Forest. The gentle and flat landscapes are ideal for all ages, including families, so they can immerse themselves in the stunning autumn colours of the National Park.

‘But at its heart, we want the festival to encourage and reward car-free travel and show you really don’t need a car to see the best of the Forest.’

Martin Stewart, owner of Stewarts, said: ‘We’re delighted to sponsor the New Forest Walking Festival this year. The Forest is an extraordinary place and as a local family business we were keen and delighted to get involved and help people understand its unique and special qualities. Personally and as a business we love what the forest has to offer, if in some small way we help more people experience its character then we will be very happy.’

There are only three criteria for walks to be submitted:

  • Walks must start and finish near a bus stop or train station (free minibuses can be provided from a transport hub if there’s no other alternative)
  • If walkers are charged, that they're given a discount (50% discount recommended) as an incentive for travelling by public transport, on bike or on foot to the walk’s starting point
  • Walks must be guided and take place within the New Forest and within the festival period – 18 October to 2 November, 2014.

Further guidance can be found at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/walkingfestivalguidance whilst walks can be submitted online at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/event/new . Enquiries should be sent to walking@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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.

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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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