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Saturday, 6 December 2014

Rare Dartford Warbler recorded at Barton Common New Milton

Dartford Warbler IUCN Red List Barton Common New Milton
A Dartford Warbler, taken by New Forest-based photographer
Luke Parkinson.
An iconic New Forest bird species has been recorded at Barton Common in New Milton for the first time in more than 10 years.

The rare Dartford warbler, which is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, has been recorded at the common for the first time since August 2004 by local expert Keith Betton.

The New Forest is a UK stronghold for the heathland bird, which nearly died out in this country 50 years ago. Barton Common is owned by New Milton Town Council, which, with the support of the New Forest Land Advice Service and Natural England, has recently reintroduced grazing ponies to the site in order to improve habitats for plants and wildlife.

This includes the Dartford warbler, a long-tailed warbler, resident in the UK, which has suffered in the past from cold winters. In the 1960s the population declined to just a few pairs, and although it has gradually recovered it is still considered to be threatened.

Dartford warblers nest in dense gorse bushes, which occur in heathland and scrubland sites that are well-managed, and feed on caterpillars, beetles and spiders.

Keith Betton, County Recorder for the Hampshire Ornithological Society, said: ‘It’s always exciting when a rare bird is recorded in a new location, so I was pleased to hear the distinctive call of the Dartford warbler at Barton Common. I have talked to other local birdwatchers who visit the area and they are as excited as I am. The only previous sighting was in 2004, despite the fact that they are relatively widespread on the New Forest heaths.

‘The grazed gorse at Barton Common is a good habitat for the birds, and I’m hopeful that in the coming months we will record even more species on the common for the first time. There are two birds present - so I am hoping they may stay around for the breeding season.’

Geoffrey Blunden, New Milton Town Councillor, said: ‘We have been working with the Land Advice Service for several years to change the way the common is managed, fulfilling the Town Council’s obligation to ensure this important site is looked after in the best possible way for the enjoyment of all.

‘I am pleased the scrub clearance and reintroduction of grazing stock is already helping to return the common to its former glory. One of the aims of these changes is to improve the site as a habitat for many types of plants and wildlife, so to hear Dartford warbler on the common is a real joy.

‘As well as improvements for wildlife, the common is also undergoing work to ensure the area remains an enjoyable place for local people to walk. This includes widening the paths across the common and clearing scrub from ‘pinch points’ to improve conditions under foot and working with the grazier to monitor the behaviour of the ponies.’

To record your wildlife and plant life sightings at Barton Common and throughout Hampshire search ‘living record Hampshire’ online, or email

The New Forest Land Advice Service is funded by the New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, and the Verderers.

The grazing schemes in New Milton, which includes Barton Common, are part of the Town Council’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme, which provides financial support to assist with management of their important wildlife sites.

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Thursday, 6 November 2014

New Forest Christmas Fair - come and join in the fun

Children enjoy a wagon ride with Father Christmas
at the 2013 New Forest Christmas Fair.
Kick off the festive season with locally produced seasonal gifts, tasty hot food and wagon rides with Santa at the New Forest Christmas Fair.

After last year’s successful event, which attracted over 10,000 visitors, the fair is returning to New Park, Brockenhurst on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 December.

The gates are open from 10am until 4pm, with over 100 stalls and food outlets on site as well as a youth choir and Woodfalls brass band playing Christmas tunes. Visitors can purchase their Forestry Commission Christmas tree, enjoy a glass of mulled wine, browse for interesting or unusual locally sourced presents, or sample delicious festive food.

Many of the traders are members of the New Forest Marque, a quality assurance scheme supported by the New Forest National Park Authority. The Marque promotes authentic New Forest fare of the highest quality, and encourages people to shop locally.

If you are a local trader we would like to hear from you, as there are some pitches still available. Make sure you join the many businesses that make the most of this prime opportunity to sell their goods during the build-up to Christmas.

Marque member Catherine Shutler, of Cyril’s Soap Shed, attended the fair last year to sell her goat’s milk soap. Catherine said: ‘The fair is a wonderful event - there are lots of great stalls to buy unique presents and seasonal goodies, and many of the traders are local to the New Forest.

‘The weekend has such a friendly and festive atmosphere, so much so that there are quite a few people who come both days because they have such a good time.’

Sarah Hunt, New Forest Marque manager and fair co-ordinator, said: ‘We’ve run the fair for two years now, and it’s continuing to go from strength to strength. Last year’s event was hugely popular with visitors and stallholders alike, and the 2014 fair will have even more attractions and stalls for everyone to enjoy.

‘Take advantage of the fantastic range of local products on offer and take the hassle out of Christmas by doing all your shopping in one place. And remember – Marque businesses benefit from reduced pitch rates, which is one of dozens of reasons to be a member.’

For more information on the fair, or to reserve a trading stall at the event, email or phone 01590 646692.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Heritage on My Doorstep - have you a desire for local history

Volunteers in the New Forest Heritage on My Doorstep project
Archaeology volunteers in the New Forest
Anyone with an interest in history and a desire to discover more about their local area can unearth the secrets of their community’s past as part of an exciting new project.

Heritage on My Doorstep is a pioneering initiative that will help people in the New Forest to investigate and interpret their area’s past, before sharing their discoveries with the wider community.

The project will be led by the New Forest National Park Authority and will form part of the Our Past, Our Future Landscape Partnership Scheme, which will run from 2016 once funding is confirmed.

With support from experts, training in archaeological and research skills, and grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project is an excellent opportunity to find out more about the buildings, people and nature that combine to form your area’s heritage.  

To be one of the communities involved in Heritage on My Doorstep you just need to:

Have a desire to discover your local area and share your findings with the wider community

Have a pool of people who want to support your venture and volunteer their time

Undertake a heritage project and interpret and publicise your findings.
Marian Spain, New Forest National Park Authority member, said: ‘The aim of this exciting four year project is to empower local communities to research and promote their own heritage and interests.

‘You can form a group to research anything and everything that interests you about your local area, which could be how your town or village was established, significant events such as the advent of war, or the history of a certain building, monument or person.’

The Landscape Partnership Scheme is led by the New Forest National Park Authority working alongside several delivery and funding partners including the Beaulieu Estate, Commoners Defence Association, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, National Trust, Natural England, New Forest Centre, and the New Forest Land Advice Service.

If you have any questions, or would like your community to be involved, contact James Brown at or 01590 646695.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

£46,000 of improvements to open spaces and recreation facilities

Play equipment, skateboarding areas and revamped open spaces are just some of the £46,000 of improvements the New Forest National Park Authority has supported thanks to funding from local house builders.

As the planning body for the National Park, the Authority negotiates financial contributions from developers for open space enhancements and then works with town and parish councils to improve recreation facilities across the New Forest.

Since May this year alone, over £30,000 has been handed out to communities to support improvements to local open spaces in the National Park.

Pat Wyeth, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority’s Planning Committee, said: ‘Nearly all local planning authorities require developers to help enhance open spaces to offset new development and make sure communities have open spaces on their doorstep that they can use.

‘This money comes from new developments and can only be spent on outdoor spaces in the community where the building work took place.

‘I’m delighted that parishes are able to see a real benefit from these developer contributions and this funding is making a difference in New Forest communities.’

Schemes allocated funding so far this financial year include:

  • re-surfacing the children’s play area at Highwood Road, Brockenhurst
  • a contribution towards the costs of new skateboard equipment at the Coles Mead Recreation Ground, Lyndhurst
  • new play equipment at Whartons Lane Recreation Ground, Ashurst
  • up-grading the surface around the toddler play equipment at Landford Recreation Ground.

Other projects to benefit in recent years include:

  • enhancing the Great Mead open space, Lyndhurst
  • installing new play equipment at Nomansland Sports Ground.

The Authority continues to work with parish councils in the National Park to identify further projects which could benefit from the funding available.

Monday, 3 November 2014

New Forest Beach Bus shortlisted for UK Bus Awards

A New Forest bus service has been nominated for a national award after a successful summer.

Beach Bus team after being shortlisted for an UK Bus Award: (front row from l-r) Nat Taplin from the New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA), Annie Lawrie from NFNPA, Paul Goddard from morebus, (middle row from l-r) Nigel Philpott from Exbury Gardens, Alistair Strong from morebus, Mark Holroyd from NFNPA, Gary Rose from morebus, and (back row) Wayne Clarke from morebus.
In only its second season, the Beach Bus attracted 7,993 passenger trips to Hythe, Lepe, Beaulieu and Lymington in just 37 days - a 35% increase from 5,898 passengers journeys in 2013.

As well as hourly services and a free ferry link from Southampton to Hythe, passengers also enjoyed discounts at attractions and free ice creams at Lepe beach during its five week season (26 July – August 31).

Now, the Beach Bus has been shortlisted as one of five finalists for Local Authority Bus Project of the Year at the UK Bus Awards.

The service is run by the New Forest National Park Authority in partnership with operator morebus, as part of a Department for Transport (DfT) funded campaign to encourage more people to travel without a car in the National Park.

Andrew Wickham, Managing Director of operator morebus, said: ‘We’re very pleased with this recognition from the UK Bus Awards which is one of the most prestigious industry awards in the country.

‘It can take some time to establish a new bus service, but the Beach Bus hit the ground running in its first year with substantial growth this summer. It became so popular that we had to run extra services at the end of the day to take people home from the beach at Lepe.’

Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘We’re delighted with this nomination from the UK Bus Awards. The Beach Bus has been very popular with residents and visitors, helping take cars off the road and reduce carbon emissions.

‘We’ve developed an excellent partnership with operators More bus and we’re grateful for the support from local businesses and organisations.’

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on 18 November.

For more details about the Beach Bus visit

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Help locate New Forest forgotten memorials

Brusher Mills Gravestone
The gravestone of ‘Brusher Mills’
in the churchyard of St Nicholas, Brockenhurst.
Long-forgotten gravestones and monuments in burial grounds are set for a new lease of life, and New Forest residents can help by identifying those most in need of conservation.

The National Park Authority is asking people to help locate any churchyards or burial grounds where there are monuments or gravestones that need to be repaired, by filling out a simple online questionnaire.

A minimum of 10 sites will be chosen, based on the number of gravestones in poor condition and the historical significance of any listed monuments.

Volunteers from across the New Forest will be trained to assess the condition of the memorials and record and photograph them, before adding them to an on-line portal. This website will allow anyone undertaking family or social history research anywhere in the world to locate a family memorial.

The project will be led by the New Forest National Park Authority and will form part of the £4.5 million Our Past, Our Future Landscape Partnership Scheme, which will run from 2016 once funding is confirmed.

As well as surveying and conserving monuments and gravestones in need of attention, the project also aims to map all the burial grounds in the New Forest, including recording details of who is responsible for their maintenance. This comprehensive database is being established in the New Forest for the first time, in partnership with New Forest District Council and staff in the Winchester Diocesan Office, in order to prevent more gravestones slipping into a state of disrepair.

Frank Green, New Forest National Park Authority archaeologist, said: ‘Gravestones and monuments in cemeteries are privately owned and are usually erected by family members, so legally they are family heirlooms.

‘This means that it is the family that has responsibility for maintaining the memorials, not the organisations that manage the burial sites. However locating family members responsible for maintaining gravestones that are hundreds of years old is virtually impossible, so this project will help ensure that these memorials, which contain so much social and family history, are kept in good order for future generations.’

If you know of gravestones or monuments in a poor state of repair in your area please fill out the questionnaire at

For more information about this project, including how to volunteer, email

The Landscape Partnership Scheme is led by the New Forest National Park Authority working alongside several delivery and funding partners including the Beaulieu Estate, Commoners Defence Association, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, National Trust, Natural England, New Forest Centre, and the New Forest Land Advice Service.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

New Forest Volunteer Fair 2015 - Volunteer organisations invited

Matt Pringle at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
Matt Pringle volunteering at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
Charities and local groups looking to recruit volunteers are invited to register their interest for the New Forest Volunteer Fair 2015.

The annual event at Lyndhurst Community Centre attracts hundreds of people from across Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire, looking to try new skills and enjoy new experiences.

The fair will take place on 31 January next year, when around 30 organisations from in and around the New Forest will attract volunteers for wildlife projects, archaeological surveys and outdoor activities.

One organisation which has benefited recently is Sir Harold Hillier Gardens near Romsey, which has attracted the skills of photographer Matt Pringle to improve their portfolio of images for their websites and magazines.

Mr Pringle has also benefited from the experience, helping him to recover from mental and physical health problems after being assaulted at work as a police officer.

He said: ‘Volunteering at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens gives me the opportunity to give something back. It’s helped me gain a sense of achievement, reach attainable goals and I’ve enjoyed meeting new people. The positive nature of the experience has been a real benefit for my mental health too.’

Janet Pratley, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, said: ‘Matt’s photos have been of the highest quality and he has been a fantastic addition to our team of volunteers. They make such a difference to the gardens, whether it’s by planting and digging, helping customers or other skilled services such as photography. The New Forest Volunteer Fair has been a great place for us to find such wonderful people.’

The Volunteer Fair will take place on Saturday, 31 January, 2015, from 10.30am to 4pm at Lyndhurst Community Centre. If you are from a volunteer organisation which would like to get involved, email or call 01590 646681. Spaces are limited.

For more information go to

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Lives Less Ordinary - Celebration of the lives of local residents

Lives Less Ordinary St Barbe Museum LymingtonSt Barbe Museum & Art Gallery, Lymington 15th November – 10th January

Lives Less Ordinary, a new exhibition at St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery, Lymington running from Saturday 15th November 2014 until Saturday 10th January 2015, celebrates the lives of nearly 30 local residents who made a mark both close to home and nationally.

The exhibition provides a chance to discover more about this eclectic mix of people whose exploits and influence and vision brought them to prominence or notoriety on the New Forest coast and beyond. These range from GO Smith (1872-1943), the David Beckham of his day, captain of the England Football team and every schoolboy's idol to religious cult leader Mary Ann Girling (1827-1886), founder of a sect called The People of God, also known as the New Forest Shakers.

Other people of note featured in the exhibition include: occult novelist Dennis Wheatley (1897-1977); Arthur Philip (1738-1814), who originally founded the colony of New South Wales, and was the beginning of what would eventually become the nation of Australia; local hero Sir Harry Burrard-Neale (1755-1813, a British officer in the Royal Navy and MP for Lymington; John Howlett (1863-1974), who helped shape modern Lymington; Andrew Peterson (1813-1906) the eccentric builder of Sway Tower, a 66m high Grade II listed folly in the heart of the New Forest; and Charles William Retford (1875-1970), the best violin bow craftsman of his time.

Sir Ben Ainslie Lives Less Ordinary
Sir Ben Ainslie
The lives of contemporary figures will also be showcased such as Sammy Miller, championship winning motorcycle racer, in both road racing and trials, and Sir Ben Ainslie; the most successful sailor in Olympic history he has won medals at five consecutive Olympic Games including gold at the last four.

The exhibition is supported by law firm Clarke Willmott.

Tickets to Lives Less Ordinary and St Barbe Museum, which is open between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday, cost £4 for adults, £3 for senior citizens and students, £2 for children aged five to 15, and £10 for a family of two adults and up to four children; under fives are admitted free of charge.

For more details visit or telephone 01590 676969. Follow on Twitter @StBarbeMuseum and visit the museum’s Facebook page searching for St. Barbe Museum & Art Gallery.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

New Forest National Park Management Plan seek your thoughts for future care

Informal consultation: 20 October to 19 December 2014

Organisations in the New Forest are asking people for their thoughts on how efforts should be focused to care for the New Forest up to 2020.

Many of the organisations responsible for looking after the New Forest have come together to draft a Management Plan update, suggesting a series of priority actions for the Forest between 2015 and 2020.

The New Forest National Park Management Plan contains a broad strategic and aspirational approach designed to guide the long-term management of the National Park.

First published in 2010 following widespread public consultation, the long-term vision and objectives remain relevant today, but it is time to update the actions in the plan, looking ahead over the next five years. It is on this draft of updated actions that views are sought.

New Forest National Park Authority Chairman Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre said: ‘The actions in this draft update cover a wide range of topics, but the underlying theme is the conservation of the special qualities of the New Forest. It is important that we all work together to look after this special place, and I am pleased that this update is very much a joint venture involving many of the Forest organisations.’

Call for views

An initial draft of the update can be viewed at and comments are invited as part of the ‘Call for Views’ - a period of informal consultation from today (20 October) to 19 December 2014.

Please download a comments sheet from the web page above and send your responses to:

Policy Team, National Park Authority, Lymington Town Hall, Avenue Road, Lymington, SO41 9ZG; or email

Drop-in sessions

The National Park Authority is also holding a series of drop-in sessions for people to discuss the draft update. The sessions are between 2pm and 8pm as follows:

  • 4 November: Bramshaw Village Hall
  • 10 November: Sway Village Hall
  • 12 November: Godshill Village Hall
  • 17 November: Lyndhurst Community Centre.

This will be followed by revisions to the update and a further period of formal public consultation during February and March 2015.

The draft update has been produced jointly by the Forestry Commission, New Forest District Council, Hampshire County Council, National Park Authority, Natural England, Environment Agency, Wiltshire Council and Test Valley Borough Council.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Efford Mill Lymington halves annual energy costs

The owners of a New Forest watermill first recorded in the Domesday Book have cut their energy bills in half by undertaking a range of energy saving improvements.

Efford Mill, near Lymington, has been fitted with a variety of green features to slash the costs of running the medieval and Georgian property, from high-tech power systems to common sense measures such as insulation.

Efford Mill in Lymington has drastically reduced their energy costs.
Back row (left to right): Simon Rogers, Fiona Rogers, Jeremy Rogers.
Front row (left to right): Tom Rogers, Hattie Rogers, Patricia Barrie
The mill, owned by Fiona and Jeremy Rogers, is throwing open its doors to the public over the weekend of 4 and 5 October as part of Green Open Doors, an open house event run by the New Forest National Park Authority to inspire people to save energy around the home.

Fiona and Jeremy moved into Efford Mill in 1964 and spent years painstakingly restoring the mill to house four generations of their family, from 10 year old Tom Rogers to his 94 year old great granny Patricia Barrie.

By 2006 the property was largely restored, but its energy costs had soared to over £5,000 a year.

In an effort to reduce their bills and live more sustainably, the family set about transforming their home with environmentally friendly measures. These include solar panels controlled from a former World War Two bunker and a ground source heat pump buried in the bed of the river that snakes through their back garden.

Energy saving at Efford Mill is not restricted to high-tech energy systems; the family have also installed more common features including double glazing, water butts and wood burning stoves.

The public can see the mill’s eco-features and ask the owners about the pros and cons of sustainable living throughout the Green Open Doors weekend.

This includes discussing the relatively high set up costs of eco-technology for the home, with solar panels costing the Rogers family £8,000 and their ground source heat pump setting them back £16,000.

Fiona said: ‘Our set up costs were quite high for our main energy saving features, but we are taking a long term view. The solar panels will pay for themselves in eight years and the heat pump in 15 years, plus the panels now earn us a feed in tariff payment of around £800 a year.

‘We are quite happy about that, because we are aiming for the lowest carbon footprint possible, and we are certainly not paying anything like the gas and oil bills that we would have had. We feel strongly that sustainability is the only logical way forward.

‘As a family we feel that living an environmentally friendly lifestyle makes sense.  We have nine grandchildren and we are concerned about the future for them and all their generation.  We try not to fly if we can travel by train instead, and we don’t take holidays abroad any more, but we don’t claim to be saints, and we freely admit that everything’s a compromise.’

Green Open Doors is a free event, organised by the New Forest National Park Authority and New Forest Transition, which sees 11 properties opening their doors throughout the weekend of 4 and 5 October.

Find out about the participating properties, and which energy saving features their owners can advise on, at

Sunday, 5 October 2014

New Forest tradition of pannage is producing pork to rival any in the world

Pig at Balmer Lawn in the New Forest Hampshire UK
A pig at Balmer Lawn, Brockenhurst. Credit: Luke Parkinson.
The ancient New Forest tradition of pannage is producing pork to rival any in the world, thanks to the pigs’ free roaming lifestyle and diet of acorns.

The claim comes from top chef James Golding, chef director at The Pig Hotel Group, who says that meat from pigs turned out by New Forest commoners to roam freely in the Forest is proving a hit with his guests.

The Pig Hotel in Brockenhurst, and some pannage practising commoners, are members of the New Forest Marque, a quality assurance scheme supported by the New Forest National Park Authority that promotes authentic New Forest fare of the highest quality, while encouraging people to shop locally.

A practising commoner is someone who makes use of common rights attached to their property. The right to turn out pigs during the autumn to feed is called ‘pannage’ or ‘mast’.  Over 300 pigs were turned out in 2013 and they play a crucial role in the New Forest by eating acorns that are poisonous to ponies and cattle.

James Golding said: ‘I believe the superior flavour of pannage pork is due to a combination of its acorn-rich diet and the free roaming life of the pigs. I always say that a happy pig is a tasty pig!

‘We have seen that customers ‘in the know’ actively search out eateries in the area that are serving pannage pork. It’s a bit like every seasonal food; it’s not around all year and should be enjoyed when it’s available and at its best.

‘Using pannage pork at The Pig shows our passion for local produce. With the help of the New Forest Marque we now source 80 per cent of our produce from within a 25 mile radius.’

New Forest Marque member Jamie Burgess, of P.R. Burgess and Sons, has followed in the footsteps of generations of his family to practise the common right of pannage.

Jamie said: ‘I usually turn out around 50 pigs onto the Forest and one of the main reasons I do it is because pannage pork is so popular - the meat tastes great, and we get orders from all over the region.

‘We find the pork to be superior to regular pork because the pigs are out eating acorns and beechnuts, giving it a great, unique taste and texture. Foodies with a real passion for good meat are particular fans of it, and if demand continues to increase we will definitely be looking to expand.’

Pannage pork is available from P.R. Burgess and Sons at Swallowfields Farm in Bramshaw. Contact Jamie Burgess on 07795 082358 for details.

For more information on the The Pig Hotel Group visit

To find out more about New Forest Marque produce and the benefits of buying locally visit

Saturday, 27 September 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, and

Saturday, 6 September 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

Tuesday, 12 August 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 and for New Forest Tour timetables go to

Monday, 11 August 2014

Beach Bus and open-top New Forest Tour Bus are enjoying a busy summer

Beach Bus at Lepe Country ParkPassenger numbers for New Forest buses are at an all-time high as visitors and residents swap their cars for green transport.

The seasonal Beach Bus and open-top New Forest Tour are enjoying busy summers thanks to new stops and discount offers, improved ferry links and a largely dry summer.

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

Twice as many people caught the Beach Bus in its first week (26 July to 1 August) compared to the same period last year, with 1,552 passengers in 2014 compared to 719 in 2013.

The daily summer service, from Hythe to Lepe, Beaulieu and Lymington, has proved popular with visitors and residents thanks to great value tickets and a free ferry link from Southampton. Passengers also enjoy 20% discounts at attractions like Buckler’s Hard as well as free ice creams at Lepe beach.

The New Forest Tour has so far attracted 15,977 passengers compared to 15,388 in the same period last year (28 June to 2 August). Last year a record 40,600 passengers hopped on the open-top’s three routes around the National Park during its 11-week season.

Numbers for the green route around the south east of the New Forest are significantly higher thanks to a new link with Hythe Ferry, whilst the red route in the north of the Forest has benefited from new stops at New Forest Wildlife Park and Longdown Activity Farm near Ashurst. The timetable for the blue route along the south coast has also been revised so all three routes run eight times a day, seven days a week.

Edward Heron, Deputy Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘These figures show that by providing a better experience, better value and regular services you can encourage visitors and residents to swap their cars for greener forms of transport.

‘The good weather has been very important. But we had a warm and dry summer in 2013, so to improve on last year’s figures is significant.

New Forest Tour Bus
‘The New Forest Tour and Beach Bus also help to protect the fragile landscapes of the National Park by reducing congestion and carbon emissions, as well as providing a boost to local businesses. Last year the New Forest Tour saved around 223,000 private car miles and contributed an estimated £660,000 to the local economy.’

Andrew Wickham, Managing Director of operators More bus and Bluestar, said: ‘We’re very pleased with the summer we’ve had so far. The new link for the New Forest Tour with Hythe Ferry has been particularly popular as people ferry across from Southampton rather than driving their cars.’

The Beach Bus and New Forest Tour are supported in part by a £3.8m sustainable transport fund from the DfT, 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.

The Beach Bus runs until 31 August. For more information visit, and

The New Forest Tour’s three routes run until 14 September. For more information and a 10% online discount visit, and

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Picket Post a must see Panoramic View of the New Forest National Park

Exit the A31 signposted Burley and Services. Follow the road round signposted Burley and within a couple of hundred yards there is a small gravel car park signposted Picket Post. Drive in to the car park and you are confronted with one of the most magnificent panoramic views of the New Forest National Park. Immediately before you is a valley stretching miles. In the far distance the landscape inclines to reveal a forest skyline.

You could literally sit there for hours with a pair of binoculars and survey the endless heathland terrain. While I was there I took four photos using my iPhone (shown below). I don't think I captured the true spender like a professional photographer, but I'm sure they will give you some idea of the magnificent views from Picket Post. Enjoy and do visit if you are in the area.

Further historical in-depth reading can be found at


Twenty splendid short country walks in the New Forest National Park - The New Forest is the jewel of Hampshire's crown. Relatively unchanged for centuries, it continues to provide wonderful opportunities for the walker to experience both its unique woodland and rare wildlife. The New Forest is a working, living landscape consisting of peaceful lawns and wild heather moorland, all of which set it apart as a place for the peaceful enjoyment of nature. Its proximity to the commuter belt of the south east means that it is ideally placed for weekend walks, while it continues to attract visitors from much further afield, who come to stay and explore the area for a week or two. Read more...

Saturday, 9 August 2014

A picture story of life in the New Forest

There is a saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words". That in mind, this post is simply a slideshow of 32 photographs taken depicting a story of life in the wonderful New Forest. Many thanks to Paul Chambers ( for sharing these fantastic photos. Enjoy!

The New Forest by Matthew Conway
Featuring a mixture of history, folklore and stories of interest, this book explores the culture and wildlife of the New Forest. From it deer, which for centuries were hunted exclusively by the Kings of England, to the thousands of trees that were the cornerstone of the English Navy, this fascinating volume illustrates how flora and fauna are interwoven with the forest's heritage, and pays special attention to its wildlife. As well as providing a backdrop of history, this affectionate look at the forest will inspire readers to explore the area themselves. Read more...

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Southampton Maritime Festival - Motorists book parking space now

Organisers of Southampton Maritime Festival have today issued advance advice for motorists ahead of 22/23 August.

Southampton Maritime Festival, the popular family heritage event, last year attracted over 12,000 and this year organisers hope event more visitors will come down to the docks to see heritage boats, buses, trams and performers. They advise, however, that the event doesn't have a large public car park – so if you want to bring a car you will need to buy an advance ticket to park close to the event.

Motorists turning up on the day will be directed to nearby public car parks, excepting blue badge holders. From city centre car parks Festival visitors will be able to catch a FREE vintage shuttle bus to the Festival gates. The FREE heritage buses will pick up from West Quay Car Parks, Southampton Coach Station, Southampton Central Rail Station (London side), SeaCity Museum, City West Quay and Platform Road.

The free shuttle service will also help to alleviate congestion in what is a busy area of the city.

More information and tickets are available at

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Minister learns of New Forest Special Qualities during National Parks Week

Environment Minister Lord de Mauley visited the New Forest during National Parks Week and saw a showcase of life in the National Park.

Lord de Mauley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for natural environment and science with responsibility for National Parks, heard about the National Park Authority’s work to encourage green transport in the Forest, reducing car journeys while helping to protect the iconic landscape.

Lord de Mauley with NFNPA Julian Johnson and CExec Alison Barnes
Environment Minister Lord de Mauley (centre) with
New Forest National Park Authority Member
Julian Johnson and Chief Executive Alison Barnes.
During his visit to the New Forest Show last week (31 July) he met business and community leaders who support National Park projects such as the New Forest Tour, which last year saw a record 40,653 passenger journeys on the three open-top bus routes and contributed £660,000 to the local economy.

Alison Barnes, New Forest National Park Authority Chief Executive, said: ‘We were also able to tell the Minister about the special qualities of the New Forest – over half of the National Park is designated as being internationally-important for nature conservation – and how it is vital we work together to protect it for the future.

‘A £2.9 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant has been earmarked for the New Forest with 10 organisations busy planning over 20 projects ranging from habitat restoration, to developing Forest skills, and inspiring a new generation to become involved in caring for this precious landscape.’

Natural Environment and Science Minister Lord de Mauley, said: ‘The New Forest National Park is among our greatest natural assets, and a huge contributor to the local economy and tourism industry, which is why it’s important to celebrate its success.

‘I’m grateful to the local businesses, farmers and forest authority officials who I met at the show to discuss how we can protect this unique environment and grow our rural economy to help boost opportunities for the local community.’

The Minister was presented with a hamper of New Forest Marque local produce. Supported by the National Park Authority, the New Forest Marque scheme has around 130 members and gives local businesses a distinctive ‘New Forest’ banner to sell their goods. He also visited the Local Food and Farming Area at the Show to meet some of the producers.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Campers have fun with new activities in the New Forest

A new seasonal ranger will help campers have fun in the New Forest whilst helping them protect the National Park’s animals and landscapes.

Chris Marshall will lead bug hunts, forest games and craft activities exclusively for families at four Camping in the Forest campsites throughout the summer.

Seasonal Ranger Chris Marshall  (blonde hair, brown T-shirt)
leading activities with camping families at
Hollands Wood campsite near Brockenhurst.
Campers at Roundhill, Ashurst, Holmsley and Hollands Wood will be treated to a wild time of adventure and discovery, with walks from the campsites to learn more about the flora and fauna, how the New Forest got its name and why ponies have played such an important role in shaping the landscape.

The fun activities will also show visitors how to care for the Forest and be responsible campers, reinforcing important messages such as not feeding the animals and leaving the forest as it was found.

The new role is being supported as a joint partnership between the New Forest National Park Authority, Camping in the Forest and the Forestry Commission.

Gillie Hayball, Lead Ranger at the National Park Authority, said: ‘Chris is a great addition to the ranger team. By helping campsite families to explore the Forest and discover its natural wonders, they will be better able to appreciate its fragility and help protect its special qualities during their stay.’

Rob Ganley, Camping in the Forest’s Senior Communications Manager, said: ‘We’re dedicated to helping holidaymakers learn more about the Forest and their natural surroundings, so we’re delighted to work with the National Park Authority and the Forestry Commission, this summer.

‘The National Park Authority Rangers have a fantastic knowledge of the New Forest and we hope those that stay with us take the opportunity to learn more about this unique area.’

A Forestry Commission spokesperson said: ‘This is a great opportunity to engage with visitors to the Forest and to demonstrate how the forest is sustainably managed for people, the environment and the economy while having fun and enjoying the peaceful surroundings. We are very pleased to be able to support this initiative alongside our partners.’

The seasonal ranger will lead family activities at the following campsites between 4pm and 7pm throughout the summer:

Mondays – Roundhill
Wednesdays – Ashurst
Thursdays – Holmsley
Saturdays – Hollands Wood

Guided Ranger walks will be held every Thursday from 10am to 12.30pm from one of the four campsites. Members of the public are welcome on the Guided Ranger walks, although booking is essential through individual campsites. Visit for more details.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Controlled Burning of Heathlands in the New Forest

The heathland habitat is maintained by controlled burning or cutting and baling the heather. These can appear very destructive, but they are very important management methods.

Heathland areas are subject to controlled burning only once in a generation - about every 25 years - and nature recovers surprisingly quickly. Burning revitalises many of the plants on the heaths, removing old growth and allowing a nutritious flush of new young growth for animals and wildlife to graze. It also provides thick cover for nesting and shelter.

Controlled burning is carried out between the beginning of November and the end of March.
Extract from NFNPA

Member of the Controlled Burning team New Forest UK

Controlled Burning on Roger Penny Way

New Forest National Park photo showing controlled burning

Photos by Paul Chambers ( who stumbled across the controlled burning on Roger Penny Way in the heart of the New Forest National Park on 16th March 2014 at 16.15pm. He spoke to a member of the burn team who told him it's the cheapest and best way to control the gorse and it also helps wildlife.

Forests in our changing world: New Principles for Conservation and Management
by Joe Landsberg and Richard H. Waring
Scientists tell us that climate change is upon us and the physical world is changing quickly with serious implications for biodiversity and human well-being. Forests cover vast regions of the globe and serve as a first line of defence against the worst effects of climate change, but only if we keep them healthy and resilient. Forests in Our Changing World tells us how to do that. Authors Joe Landsberg and Richard Waring present an overview of forests around the globe, describing basic precepts of forest ecology and physiology and how forests will change as earth's climate warms. Drawing on years of research and teaching, they discuss the values and uses of both natural and plantation-based forests. In easy-to-understand terms, they describe the ecosystem services forests provide, such as clean water and wildlife habitat, present economic concepts important to the management and policy decisions that affect forests, and introduce the use of growth-and-yield models and remote-sensing technology that provide the data behind those decisions. Read more...

Saturday, 2 August 2014

NFNPA welcomes Government fracking announcement

The New Forest National Park Authority welcomes the Government’s intention to safeguard protected landscapes against fracking.

In opening the bidding process for companies seeking licences to explore for onshore oil and gas, Communities Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon also provided some additional planning guidance for National Parks.

In a press release from the Department of Energy & Climate Change and Department for Communities and Local Government, Communities Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said: ‘We recognise there are areas of outstanding landscape and scenic beauty where the environmental and heritage qualities need to be carefully balanced against the benefits of oil and gas from unconventional hydrocarbons.

‘For this reason, I am today making clear our approach to planning for unconventional hydrocarbons in National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites.

‘Proposals for such development must recognise the importance of these sites.’

Paul Walton, Head of Environment and Rural Economy at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The New Forest is a world-class landscape with over half of it recognised as being internationally-important for nature.

‘We welcome the Government’s intention to safeguard National Parks to ensure these iconic landscapes continue to receive the highest status of protection.

‘As with all major forms of infrastructure, oil and gas development should only be permitted within our finest landscapes in exceptional circumstances, where the reasons for National Parks being created would not be compromised and where it can be demonstrated that they are in the public interest.’

The recently-adopted Hampshire and New Forest Minerals and Waste Plan already emphasises that any proposal for oil and gas should not be located in the New Forest National Park except in exceptional circumstances and where the reasons for National Park designation are not compromised.

A licence would provide the first step to starting drilling. In addition to a licence, any further drilling application would require planning permission (from the National Park Authority for sites within the National Park), as well as permits from the Environment Agency and agreement from the Health and Safety Executive.

An FAQ factsheet can be viewed on Hampshire County Council’s website.

Please do take this opportunity to give your views on fracking in the Comments below.

Monday, 26 May 2014

New Forest Walk - Balmer Lawn to Brockenhurst Station

The New Forest is a magnificent place for a walk, no matter when you make a visit. Early mornings are particularly rewarding with sparce company and soft mellow light. Leave your car behind to walk the old paths into the copse and mixed vegetation and Victorian plantation. Through the plantation you will see seasonal colours bursting through. Coniferous plants are sprinkled between pockets of deciduous tree as shades of green and brown mingle. Watch the video as you are taken on a walk from Balmer Lawn to Brockenhurst Station. Enjoy!

Video by

Twenty splendid short country walks in the New Forest National Park
The New Forest is the jewel of Hampshire's crown. Relatively unchanged for centuries, it continues to provide wonderful opportunities for the walker to experience both its unique woodland and rare wildlife. The New Forest is a working, living landscape consisting of peaceful lawns and wild heather moorland, all of which set it apart as a place for the peaceful enjoyment of nature. Its proximity to the commuter belt of the south east means that it is ideally placed for weekend walks, while it continues to attract visitors from much further afield, who come to stay and explore the area for a week or two. Read more...

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Saturday, 8 February 2014

NFNPA - Restoring New Forest streams

Restoring Fletchers Thorns New Forest Stream - A Partnership between the Verderers of the New Forest, Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Kids And Dogs: Teach kids about pets

teach kids about pets
Having a dog while having kids can be a great way to keep your family safe while giving your child a constant playmate, but it's also extremely important that you teach your child the proper way to live with dogs so that they don't hurt themselves or your pet.

In order to ensure that your child and your dog get along, it's important you teach your child the following things about your dog.

Secrets To Dog Training: Stop Your Dog's Behaviour Problems! - Click Here!

Teach your child to ask first
It doesn't matter what your child wants to do, you need to teach your child to ask first before doing anything with the pet dog.

Teach your child to ask before letting the dog outside
Teach your child to ask before feeding the dog. Teach your child to ask before petting dogs he or she doesn't know. When you teach your child to ask first, you can be sure that they will always interact with your dog in a way that is safe and acceptable.

Teach your child to be gentle
Dogs have feelings too, and if your child is too rough with your dog, it could end up putting your child in danger. Make sure that you teach your child the proper way to pet a dog. You also need to make sure that your child never pulls on your dog's tail, never pokes him or her in the face, and never hits, kicks or jumps on top of your dog. The nicer and gentler your child is with your dog, the better it will be for everyone.

Teach your child to stay away from food
Even if your pet dog is not aggressive, he or she may be possessive over his or her food, which is why you need to make sure your child never bothers your dog while he or she eats. Make sure your child never pets or touches your dog while they're eating, and make sure your child never puts his or her hands in your dogs food bowl while they're eating either. This is the best way to avoid injury.

Teach your child never to sneak up on your dog
Pets can become startled, and if your child tries to pet the dog when he or she is sleeping, your dog could become startled and harm your child. Make sure your child only plays with the dog when he or she is awake and understands what is going on. You don't want your child to become hurt, and teaching them to avoid startling your dog is important.

Teach your child about your specific dog
Younger dogs are very energetic, and older dogs may be more irritable. Only you truly understand your dog's demeanor and personality, so make sure your child understands this as well. For example, if you have an untrained puppy, teach your child that the puppy is going to run around, jump and be excited. If you have an older dog, teach your child that he or she is not going to want to run and jump and play as often. This way, your child will know what exactly to expect of your pup.

Written by Graham Reed

Dogs: A Kids' Book About Dogs - Fun Facts And Amazing Pictures (Animals Are Amazing)
This best selling, non-fiction book about dogs is filled with many interesting and unique facts, along with wonderful images that will delight children and dog lovers of all ages.

Dogs are one of the best-loved animals in the world, as well as being one of the most popular pets. In this kids’ book about dogs, children will discover lots of new and fascinating information about them. If you are looking for a book that goes beyond the basics, “Dogs: A Kids Book About Dogs” is for you.
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