The New Forest Walking Festival will return this autumn with 80 guided wildlife walks, history hikes and wild play adventures.
The expert-led walks will reveal the history, heritage and wildlife of the Forest during the festival from 17 October to 1 November, including half term.
The National Park is particularly dazzling during the autumn, with flat, accessible landscapes making it ideal for all ages and abilities. Prices vary, but many walks are free or discounted for those who travel by public transport, by bike or on foot.
Established by the New Forest National Park Authority with support from Forest organisations and businesses, the festival is sponsored by Stewarts, more than just Garden Centres.
Walks include discovering:
- Free-roaming pigs, ponies and the traditional rights of commoning
- Ancient woods and the Forest’s largest oak tree
- Wild play and family adventure walks
- The Japanese practice of ‘Forest bathing’
- World War II secrets from a prisoner of war camp
- Guided packhorse and alpaca walks
- Photography workshops in stunning locations.
Martin Stewart, owner of Stewarts, said: ‘We’re delighted to sponsor the New Forest Walking Festival for another year, and are thrilled to hear that it’s growing from strength to strength.
The New Forest is unique and precious, and as a local family business we’re very supportive of local events that highlight its special qualities. We’re sure that all those who attend will care as passionately for it as we do.’
New Forest National Park Authority Deputy Chairman Edward Heron said: ‘The New Forest Walking Festival only started two years ago with 11 guided walks, so to have 80 guided walks for 2015 shows how popular it has become.
‘The beauty of the New Forest’s autumn scenery is plain to see. But what really attracts people to the festival are the local experts, discovering surprising stories in the Forest’s unique landscapes.
‘Many walks finish near some wonderful local pubs and cafes, which helps support the local economy. The festival also reduces carbon emissions, by starting many walks from train stations or bus stops and offering car-free discounts, which will help protect the National Park for future generations.’
The New Forest Walking Festival is partly funded by a Department for Transport grant to encourage car-free travel in and around the New Forest National Park.
The festival is also supported by many local organisations including New Forest Destination Partnership, Brand New Forest, the Forestry Commission, New Forest District Council, New Forest Association and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.
For full details, including booking, visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/walkingfestival