Saturday, 27 September 2014
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, 6 September 2014
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