Alpacas, bomb sites and pigs in the New Forest National Park

Matt Pringle

Published Friday 29 September 2017

Walkers across the south are snapping up places on a wealth of unusual and enlightening guided walks taking place in the New Forest this autumn.

Booking has been open for several weeks for the New Forest Walking Festival and many walks are already reaching capacity. Walkers are being enticed by the prospect of joining expert local guides on more than 70 walks that delve behind the scenes to find the National Park’s hidden gems.

Walks will reveal the history, heritage and wildlife of the Forest during the festival from 14 to 29 October, which includes half term week.   

Book now at

Run by the New Forest National Park Authority with support from Forest organisations and businesses, the festival has proved popular with residents and visitors since it began in 2013. More than 2,000 people attended last year’s event to gain behind the scenes knowledge of the Forest.

The festival prides itself on its accessibility and suitability for all. With its famously flat terrain, the National Park is a wonderful place for almost anyone to walk during the autumn. Add in the wide range of topics that the festival covers and the festival is sure to entice walkers of all ages and interests out into the great outdoors.

This year’s festival walks cover topics including:

  • Why are pigs released each autumn to eat acorns?
  • What are the best ways to entertain your children in the countryside?
  • How pivotal was the New Forest’s role in World War Two?
  • Can you tell an oystercatcher from a turnstone?
  • Where do alpacas come from?

Gillie Molland, National Park Authority Lead Ranger, said: ‘With the leaves turning, temperatures dropping and summer becoming a distant memory, it’s the perfect time to wrap up warm and venture out for a reinvigorating autumn walk.

‘If you want to meet new people or learn new and unexpected facts about the beautiful New Forest then the walking festival is for you. You’ll see sights and explore areas that you might not normally come across on your own walks, making it an exciting way to spend a day.

‘Don’t delay – buy your tickets now and join rangers and other experts out in the Forest for a walk this autumn.’

The New Forest Walking Festival is funded by the £4.3m Our Past, Our Future Landscape Partnership Scheme backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund to make the Forest fit for the future.

The festival is run in partnership with many local organisations including the Forestry Commission, Hampshire County Council, New Forest Association, New Forest Ramblers and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

To book your ticket visit

- Ends -

Notes to photo editor:

Walkers and their dogs on an autumn stroll during the 2016 New Forest Walking Festival.

Notes to editor:

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 to find out more.

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