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Friday, 27 January 2012

Merrell and UK National Parks announce plans to inspire new generation of outdoor fans

Merrell, the outdoor footwear and apparel specialist, and UK National Parks have launched an updated UK National Parks Visitor Passport to inspire a new generation of outdoor fans to ‘Get Outside’ and discover the spectacular British countryside – plus are offering lucky outdoor enthusiasts the chance to win top of the range Merrell gear.

The partnership was initially launched in Spring 2011 and will now see Merrell extend its work with the UK National Park Family, including the New Forest National Park, by distributing ‘Visitor Passports’ to a whole new audience of Merrell customers throughout the UK via in-store point of purchase materials and by promoting the passports through the Merrell UK website and social media platforms.

Outdoor fans will also have the chance to be kitted out in premium Merrell product after obtaining a UK National Parks’ Visitor Passport.

Emily Carr, Marketing Executive at Merrell said: ‘Merrell encourages everyone to Get Outside and make the most of the wonderful British landscape, so we’re delighted to be supporting a scheme that does this within the UK National Parks.

‘All 15 National Parks offer a diverse range of dramatic and stunning scenery and we’re delighted to help enhance the adventures of outdoor enthusiasts whilst tracking their progress using the Visitor Passports.’

The UK National Parks’ Visitor Passport allows guests to collect attendance stamps from each of the 15 National Parks – including the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst - as a lasting memory of the unique adventure and discovery experience. The UK National Parks are spread across England, Scotland and Wales, and offer a truly diverse combination of mountains, meadows, moorlands, woods and wetlands.

Carl Lis - Chairman of the UK Association of National Park Authorities (UK ANPA) said:
‘We are delighted to be working with Merrell who share the same aspiration as the UK National Parks - to encourage more people to get out and enjoy the countryside. With the current difficult financial situation, more people than ever are staying at home to enjoy what the UK has to offer and whether you want to relax and enjoy the tranquillity, join in a family event or get into some adrenalin-filled activities then there’s something for everyone in your nearest National Park.’

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

New look for National Park Rangers on the go

Rangers working for the New Forest National Park will be easier to spot thanks to a new lease vehicle with distinctive images of the New Forest landscape.

The Volkswagen Caddy with BlueMotion technology is more fuel efficient and produces less CO2 than most vans. The van has start-stop technology which cuts emissions and saves fuel by automatically switching off the engine when stationary, such as at traffic lights.

Gillie Hayball, who leads the team of four New Forest National Park Authority rangers, said: ‘One of our key tasks is to be a visible presence in the National Park and surrounding areas, acting as a first point of contact with residents and visitors.

‘Leasing this vehicle means we can transport display and educational materials when we attend events, campaign days and go out into communities. It also means people can recognise us more easily.

‘A business case showed that by leasing the van rather than rangers using their own transport and claiming back the mileage, there will also be cost savings for the Authority. Of course we’ll be out walking and cycling in the Forest or using public transport when possible instead of going by car or van.’

The Authority has also been leasing a hybrid pool car – which runs on electric and petrol – from Wessex Fleet Solutions since 2010.

Company Director Tim McNally said: ‘Green Car Lease is a division of Wessex Fleet Solutions. Not only are the pool car and van reducing the Authority’s emissions but the leasing arrangements are also carbon neutral.

‘We calculate the amount of carbon emitted by every lease vehicle we supply and pay for sustainable energy projects to offset those emissions.’

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Lyndhurst community unearths churchyard secrets from the past

People of all ages from Lyndhurst helped to unearth the past at an archaeological excavation of their parish churchyard dubbed ‘the community big dig’.

The New Forest National Park Authority working with Wessex Archaeology helped them excavate three areas outside the west end of St Michael and All Angels Church, Lyndhurst. They were also joined by students and staff from Southampton University.

Now people can see photos and an explanation of the project on display panels in the church, revealing the truth about the hill the church is built on and evidence of medieval Lyndhurst residents.

The Parish, in partnership with Hampshire County Council, was improving vehicle access and building a new footpath, which gave the chance for an archaeological exploration during the preparatory works in the churchyard this summer. The work had to meet the requirements of the archaeological planning condition and standards for working on consecrated land.

St Michael and All Angels Church was built between 1858 and 1869 and overlies the site of a Georgian church of 1741, which itself replaced a medieval chapel - the precise location of which remains unknown.

Several headstones lay within the excavation areas at the west end of the church, none of which appear to have been in their original locations, and these headstones were recorded and moved to another position within the churchyard.

Excavations also revealed four burial vaults, three of which were damaged and apparently in-filled earlier, but the fourth was that of Admiral Sir Charles Burrard, (1793 - 1870) which was intact and has now been preserved beneath the new access. Sir Charles was the second and last Baronet of Lymington, and at one point served on HMS Victory. He was also an accomplished marine and landscape painter.

New Forest National Park Authority Archaeologist Frank Green said: ‘We didn’t expect to find the remains of the early church as it is most likely below the present building. However there were over 350 shards of pottery found – jars and rims of jugs - and nearly a quarter were medieval. We also found stone roofing slates which were frequently used on medieval sites and usually implied social status. While the archaeological evidence from the excavation was relatively small, it is a very significant range of material for Lyndhurst and reflects the history of the Queen’s House site as a Royal Hunting Lodge as early as the 11th and 12th century.

‘This has been a really useful piece of work demonstrating that community archaeological projects can add significantly to our local knowledge and at the same time assisting community organisations to be actively involved in discovering their heritage.’

Sue Farr, Project Manager for Wessex Archaeology, said: ‘From the human bone identified, our osteoarchaeologist was able to determine there was a minimum of 20 people represented, and these are likely to have derived from 18th and 19th century graves within this area of the churchyard.

‘The overlying soil also contained metal coffin fittings such as grips and handles, plus other finds including ceramic and stone roof-tiles, brick, vessel glass and pottery, some of which was medieval.

‘The excavations also revealed that the church is built upon a natural rather than man-made hill, with some evidence of sand quarrying on the site.’

The church’s vicar, the Reverend Dr James Bruce said: ‘The people of St Michael's are hugely grateful for the hard work of the organisers Paul Trend and Ann Rogers, and all the volunteers, and for the helpfulness of the professional archaeologists involved in this project.

‘It opens the way to making the church building more accessible, and will relieve some congestion from the High Street in the future, as well as revealing more information about our heritage as a site where Jesus Christ has been worshipped since medieval times.’

People are invited to find out more about the project at a talk by archaeologist Phil Andrews in the church on Friday 10 February at 7pm.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

New members sought for New Forest National Park Authority

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman, has announced her intention to appoint two new members to the New Forest National Park Authority.

The Secretary of State appoints members to reflect the national importance placed on national parks, with responsibility for conservation, recreation, planning, access, land management and resources as well as reflecting both local and national interests.

The vacancies arose after Clive Chatters and Roger Heape stood down. Mr Chatters had served since the National Park was established in 2005 and was Chairman between 2007 and 2010. Mr Heape was appointed in 2006 and was Chairman of the Resources and Performance Committee from 2006 to 2010. Both represented the Authority on several external organisations.

Julian Johnson, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘I very much appreciate the time and commitment they both gave to the New Forest during the time that they served as a member, particularly as the National Park was being established, and their work was greatly appreciated.’

The new appointments will commence in May 2012, or as soon after as practical, and are initially for up to four years with the option of re-appointment for a total period of up to eight years.

Applications are particularly encouraged from members of ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, women and young people.

Application forms and further details are available online at or from Chris Buxton at Natural England, Foundry House, 3 Millsands, Riverside Exchange, Sheffield, S3 8NH (telephone 0300 060 2745) or email .

The deadline for receipt of applications is Monday 13 February 2012.

For more information about NPAs go to

For enquiries about the New Forest National Park Authority vacancies, please contact David Stone on 01590 646645, email

Friday, 6 January 2012

Views sought for conservation action area plan

Residents of the Western Escarpment Conservation Area in the New Forest National Park are being asked to comment on a draft action plan that outlines a range of projects that will help conserve its special character and appearance.

The Western Escarpment Conservation Area was designated in March 2008 and covers the parishes of Hale, Woodgreen, Godshill, Hyde, plus parts of Ringwood, Fordingbridge and the parish of Ellingham, Harbridge and Ibsley.

Following a series of exhibitions residents told the New Forest National Park Authority what they value about where they live and their concerns for the future. A steering group, including representatives from the local parish and town councils has worked with the National Park to produce a plan.

John Sanger, New Forest National Park Authority member, Chairman of the steering group and resident of Woodgreen, said: ‘The Western Escarpment Conservation Area is the largest conservation area in the New Forest National Park and has settlements and landscape which have developed a unique character over a thousand years, including a significant number of buildings of architectural and historic interest.

‘The draft action plan is important for the local community - they are working with a number of different organisations to protect what they feel is special about the area where they live and work.’

The National Park Authority is keen to work with the local community, and after the public consultation will finalise the plan with the steering group, taking into account the comments received and then help to prioritise the actions.

If you would like to comment on the draft action plan or get involved in any of the proposed projects visit Alternatively contact your local Parish Council clerk for a copy of the draft plan and response form. Copies are also available at the Hyde and Woodgreen shops .

The consultation will run from 9 January to the 29 February 2012. Comments should be emailed to or posted to the New Forest National Park Authority, Lymington Town Hall, Avenue Road, Lymington, SO41 9ZG.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Success for New Forest Tour

Businesses in the New Forest are celebrating after the success of the ‘red’ and ‘green’ New Forest Tours which take passengers around the New Forest on an open-top bus.

The green route has been operating for the past six years and has seen its popularity grow year-on-year. Passenger numbers have more than doubled since 2006. This year a staggering 20,000 people went on the green Tour visiting Beaulieu, Brockenhurst and Lymington.

The red route was introduced as a pilot scheme during the school summer-holiday and ran for six weeks. Two open-top buses took visitors around Burley, Ringwood, Fordingbridge and Lyndhurst.

The Tours helped visitors learn more about the Forest with a fascinating audio commentary, encouraged them to visit local businesses and reduced traffic by encouraging people out of their cars.

David Harrison, Lead Member for Transport at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘This pilot Tour has been a phenomenal success. More than 14,000 people have taken the Tour in just six weeks.

‘The feedback has been extremely positive and we are working hard to ensure that the red route will become a regular fixture in the north and west of the Forest during the summer months.’

The new hop-on hop-off New Forest Tour route has been made possible by a partnership between the New Forest National Park Authority, Wilts & Dorset bus company and Sandy Balls Holiday Centre.

Brett Turner, Operations Director at Sandy Balls Holiday Centre, said: ‘Sandy Balls is very pleased to have been a partner in this summer’s successful New Forest Tour. Not only have our guests and local residents enjoyed the benefits of this new sustainable access to the Forest but so has the local business community with reports of increased trading along the route.’

It is estimated that over 147,000 private car miles were saved by the New Forest Tour this year and that its customers generated a contribution of nearly £500,000 to the local economy.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Unearthing the past using cutting edge technology

An exhibition showing how new and exciting technology can help reveal how the New Forest landscape has changed will be on display at the New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst.

The New Forest has a fascinating and varied archaeology and history, from the Stone Age, to being designated as a royal forest and hunting ground by William the Conqueror in 1079, and being used in World War II for secret airfield missions, spy schools and prisoner of war camps.

By using a combination of aerial photography and LiDAR (light detection and ranging) which uses a laser beamed from an aircraft to create a profile of the ground, an accurate picture of the New Forest landscape can be built up.

The exhibition explains more about LiDAR and how working with our partners (the Forestry Commission and Verderers) we can learn more about the New Forest’s unique history.

Frank Green, Archaeologist at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘By using LiDAR and traditional mapping we hope to discover new sites and improve what we know about established sites. It will be used for a variety of archaeological work including identifying bomb craters, war-time bunkers, old river courses and locating ancient and veteran trees.

‘We have recently been awarded a £500,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to investigate the significant role the New Forest played in World War II. Part of this project will involve using LiDAR along with a desk-based study to give an indication of the scale and scope of World War II structures.

‘Surprisingly the New Forest is one of the least well surveyed areas of the United Kingdom. It has a long history of woodland and ‘open forest’ management which means it has high archaeological potential.’

The exhibition ‘Laser mapping of the New Forest’ will be on show at the New Forest Centre on Saturday 7 January to Sunday 5 February 2012 from 10am-5pm, with last entry at 4pm. Normal museum entry fee applies.

For more information about LiDAR visit

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Mysteries of the Solent deep unearthed

A World War II landing craft turning up in the Solent and an abandoned wooden boat from the 1850s are just some of the mysteries uncovered by the maritime archaeology team after a two year project investigating the mysteries of part of the Solent seabed and New Forest coast.

The team made detailed surveys of archaeological sites; explored wrecks on the sea bed; trained and worked with volunteers; created online educational resources and made boxes to loan to schools, packed full of games and activities.

The project started in 2009 following a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund with support from the National Park Authority, English Heritage, ExxonMobil, Hampshire County Council and The Crown Estate’s Marine Community Fund.

A large part of the project was to bring together all existing maritime information. Now for the first time in the New Forest there is one database that draws together all existing information on archaeological finds on the coast and seabed.

When not at their desks the officers working on this project could be found diving on the seabed exploring wrecks, giving talks or going into schools. In two years members of the project did 37 talks to over 1,300 people, ran 25 school workshops speaking to over 1,200 pupils and attended over 40 events.

James Brown, the New Forest National Park Authority’s Maritime Archaeology Education & Outreach Officer, said: ‘This was such an interesting project to get involved in. It had so many parts to it that no two days were ever the same. The whole team including all the volunteers worked hard to gather all this information in the project time-frame.

‘Our greatest achievement was the amount of volunteer days people gave us. We were aiming for 240 days but people were so enthusiastic that we had more than 500. It just shows how much people wanted to get involved. We now have a bank of trained volunteers who are interested in getting involved in future National Park work.’

Volunteer Emily Brewer said of her time volunteering; ‘Taking part in this project was an amazing opportunity. I was thinking about studying archaeology at university next year and now after volunteering I know I have made the right choice. I not only got to learn new archaeology fieldwork skills but I got to meet new people who made it a great experience. I had fun working on the project and loved getting my hands dirty.’

Even though the research element of the project has come to an end there are still a number of ways people can learn about the New Forest coast. For those who have sea-legs there is an underwater trail of shipwrecks in the Solent marked by yellow buoys. By going to the website or scanning the ‘QR’ code on the buoy you can learn about the history of the wreck and how it came to be there, as well as see videos of what it looks like underwater today. For those who like diving, there is also an opportunity to explore the wreck with local diving schools.

If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land a dvd called ‘Shipwrecks of the western Solent’ takes you on a virtual journey through some of the history on the Solent seabed. The dvd is available from the Authority’s online shop Forest Store. The underwater heritage trail and the dvd have been awarded a ‘certificate of merit’ by the Nautical Archaeology Society.

To keep the legacy of the project alive a number of resources have been designed for young people. There are boxes of resources available for schools in the New Forest to borrow that are full of activities, games and costumes. For rainy days and school holidays children can play an online shipwreck game or download colouring sheets.

‘Mysteries of the sea are not always easy to solve,’ said James. ‘Sometimes we are left with more questions than answers. We have been left with two challenging finds; a wooden boat dating back to1850-1900 which we are trying to put a name to so we can learn its story, and a World War II landing craft. The serial number on the craft matches with two vessels involved with the embarkation of soldiers on D-Day. Records show that one was scrapped in America and the other went down off the coast of Normandy, so it’s a mystery how one ended up at the bottom of the Solent.’

For more information about the project visit or to buy the dvd visit the online store go to