SMUGGLERS’ trails, wild-play activities and fascinating wildlife are just some of the treats awaiting walkers in this autumn’s extended New Forest Walking Festival.
The festival boasts dozens of guided walks led by knowledgeable local experts, and booking is now open online.
Walkers are taken behind the scenes to reveal the Forest’s history, heritage and wildlife from Saturday 12th October to Sunday 3rd November, which includes half-term week.
The extended festival is part of the nationwide Year of Green Action – a year-long drive to get more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to celebrate and protect the natural world.
It is also a celebration of 70 years since the first national parks were established.
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.
Last year more than 1,600 people, including those pictured, enjoyed 75 family strolls, history hikes, wildlife walks and more.
The national park offers flat, accessible routes that allow walkers of all ages and abilities to enjoy the Forest’s fiery foliage.
The festival walks cover topics including free-roaming pigs, ponies and the traditional rights of commoning, wild-play activities for children, Second World War experimental sites, a ‘secret forest’, and top tips for bird watching.
Many of the walks are free or discounted thanks to the festival being supported by the £4.4m National Heritage Lottery Fund’s Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme.
The festival is run in partnership with many local organisations including the Forestry Commission, Hampshire County Council, and New Forest Ramblers.