Saturday, September 27, 2014

Record 50,000 New Forest Visitors for Green Transport

New Forest Tour Bus
It’s been a record year for green transport in the New Forest after 50,000 visitors and residents switched from cars to buses.

The open-top New Forest Tour and Beach Bus enjoyed their best summers, thanks to new stops and discounts, improved ferry links and the warm weather.

The New Forest Travel Concierge at Brockenhurst rail station also enjoyed a bumper summer, helping more than 4,000 people to enjoy car-free experiences.

The services are run by the New Forest National Park Authority in partnership with operators More bus and Bluestar, as part of a Department for Transport (DfT) funded campaign to encourage more people to travel without a car in the National Park.

The New Forest Tour attracted 41,877 passenger journeys on its three routes during its 11-week season this summer, beating last year’s record of 40,653. This saved around 226,000 private car miles.

The Beach Bus attracted 7,993 passenger journeys during its five week season to Hythe, Lepe, Beaulieu and Lymington – a 35% increase from 5,898 passengers in 2013.

The New Forest Travel Concierge gave travel advice to 4,441 visitors and residents, selling 1,445 New Forest Tour tickets and handing out hundreds of car-free leaflets and 1,200 cycling route maps.

The New Forest Tour in particular also provided a boost to local businesses, contributing an estimated £680,000 to the local economy whilst stopping at local villages and attractions such as New Forest Wildlife Park near Ashurst and Ringwood Brewery.

Alex Harrison, Brand Manager at Ringwood Brewery, said: ‘Being part of the New Forest Tour red route has been a real benefit to the brewery, helping to bring in visitors and support the business. We’re delighted that the Tour continues to grow in popularity.’

Andrew Wickham, Managing Director of operators More bus and Bluestar, said: ‘We’ve had another wonderful summer of good weather which undoubtedly has been part of the success story in the New Forest. The easy access to New Forest attractions and villages, plus close links to Southampton via Hythe Ferry, have all helped attract large passenger numbers.’

The New Forest Tour, Beach Bus and New Forest Travel Concierge are supported in part by a £3.8m sustainable transport fund from the DfT, which is shared with the South Downs National Park. The aim is to encourage 370,000 people to get out of their cars and use greener transport by the end of March 2015.

Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said:  ‘The New Forest Tour, Beach Bus and Travel Concierge have all played an important role in reducing the impacts of congestion and carbon emissions on the National Park’s landscapes. By encouraging visitors and residents to travel without a car, we can help protect its fragile beauty for future generations.’

For more information on the New Forest Tour, Beach Bus and New Forest Travel Concierge visit www.thenewforesttour.info, www.thebeachbus.info and www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/travel_concierge.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Take a stroll at the New Forest Walking Festival this autumn

New Forest Walking Festival autumn 2014
Walkers of all ages are invited to take a stroll at the New Forest Walking Festival this autumn to discover birds and beasts, unravel historical secrets and tantalise taste buds.

The festival has doubled in size this year with more than 20 walks guided by experts revealing the history, heritage and wildlife of this world-class landscape.

After the success of the inaugural event last autumn, the festival will this year be spread over a fortnight from 18 October to 2 November, including half term.

Established by the New Forest National Park Authority with support from Forest organisations and businesses, the festival is sponsored by Stewarts who, amongst other things, have Garden Centres at Christchurch and Broomhill, Wimborne.

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.

More walks are added to the festival every week, but among the walks confirmed so far are:

  • World War II history hike
  • Family fungi fun
  • Map reading walks
  • Walking picnics
  • Salt and smuggling trail
  • Nordic walking.

New Forest National Park Authority Deputy Chairman Edward Heron said: ‘The autumn is the most spectacular time of year for a walk around the National Park, and  the gentle, flat landscape of the New Forest is perfect for all ages and abilities.

‘Friendly and knowledgeable walk leaders from local communities and businesses are on hand to help walkers unlock the secrets of the Forest, giving a really memorable experience.

‘We want the festival to encourage and reward car-free travel, so you can see the best of the Forest without a car and help care for this precious environment at the same time.’

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.
For full details, including booking, visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/walkingfestival

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Discover your National Park Day with Free Family Activities

Discover your National Park Day at the New Forest Centre
Families are being invited to discover the New Forest National Park with a host of free activities in Lyndhurst on Saturday (August 16).

There will be free entry to the museum at the New Forest Centre from 10am to 4pm with a number of children's activities including making your own hobby ponies.

Rangers will lead guided walks to the Open Forest and children aged five to fifteen can go free on the open-top New Forest Tour, which stops just outside the New Forest Centre.

There will also be tours of the historic 13th century Verderers’ Court, and an opportunity to visit and picnic in the gardens of the historic Queen’s House.

Gillie Hayball, Lead Ranger at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: 'Discover your National Park Day is great fun and great value with a number of free activities. It also offers a taster of what the New Forest has to offer and gives people an insight into the Forest’s ancient traditions and unique way of life.'

Hilary Marshall, New Forest Centre Manager, said: ‘We are pleased to be working in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority to offer such a great day of activities. The New Forest Centre is the perfect place to start your visit to the New Forest.’

For more information visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/nationalparkday and for New Forest Tour timetables go to www.thenewforesttour.info.