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Monday, 21 December 2015

£19m scheme enhances New Forest’s world renowned habitats

England’s largest environmental improvement scheme has reached its halfway point, after five years of impressive achievements in the New Forest.

Beaulieu Road Sales Yard as part of environment improvement scheme
Beaulieu Road Sales Yard - improvements to the New Forest's pony sales site are a key achievement
from the first five years of the New Forest HLS scheme.
The New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme funds projects to support commoners and conserve the fragile habitats of the New Forest Crown Lands.

The 10 year agreement with Natural England is worth £19m and is held by the Verderers and managed by them in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority.

The scheme works to increase the New Forest’s resilience in the face of habitat loss and modern day pressures, such as increased visitor numbers. It is a rare opportunity to conserve fragile habitats and support commoners on such a large scale, and has achieved an exceptional amount since 2010:

  • Commoning – crucial grants and expert advice have been provided to hundreds of commoners to continue their ancient way of life turning out ponies and cattle onto the New Forest
  • Wetland restoration – nine miles of artificially straightened drainage channels have been restored to natural streams, protecting the New Forest’s internationally-important wetlands by slowing water flow.
  • Archaeology – 12,000 hectares, equivalent to 17,000 football pitches, has been surveyed; finding and recording thousands of historical sites to stop them being lost forever
  • Education - More than 11,000 children have gained a greater understanding of the New Forest through school visits
  • Habitat management – invasive rhododendron and other non-native species have been removed or reduced across approximately half of the New Forest, helping native plants flourish.
These improvements are helping protect the New Forest’s precious habitats and ancient way of life, preserving this beautiful landscape for future generations.

Richard Stride, local commoner, said: ‘Overall, this scheme is a good thing for commoning. The best part is the lawn restoration as this has increased the grazing for our animals. In addition, the funding is helping commoners to have better facilities for animal management.

‘On the whole the wetland restoration is proving to be a success, and the condition of the restored streams will continue to be monitored and maintained where necessary.’

Dominic May, Official Verderer, said: ‘The New Forest HLS scheme allows us to turn the clock back, restoring the New Forest by removing previous man-made interventions such as the deep channels dug in the 19th and 20th century to drain the timber plantations. This can help improve the grazing for the free-roaming animals, which are after all the architects of our beautiful New Forest landscape. The HLS supports the commoning community and helps build resilience into long term management of this important habitat.’

More detailed highlights of the first five years of the HLS scheme include:


The HLS scheme has funded improvements to Beaulieu Road pony sales yard, including mains water and mains electricity, wash-down facilities, toilets and removable lighting, which have helped to bring the yard up to modern health and safety and trading standards.

A small grants scheme has supported 43 commoners with a total of £42,000 for a range of items, such as fencing, water supply, barns and hurdles.

The scheme funds the New Forest Land Advice Service, which has provided expert advice to hundreds of commoners on land management and subsidy schemes.

Wetland restoration

The Victorians first straightened some Forest streams to form deep drainage channels for intensive agriculture and forestry, with harmful results for the Forest’s environment.

The projects involve re-instating former meanders in streams, infilling deep man-made drains, and reducing the erosion of boggy mires. Research by independent experts The River Restoration Centre has shown considerable success for this scheme. At Fletchers Thorns, near Brockenhurst, restoration ‘achieved significant nature conservation and ecosystem service benefits in a very short period of time.’ Read more at

So far, nine miles of drainage channels have been restored to natural streams, based on evidence of old meanders, protecting the New Forest’s internationally-important wetlands for future generations.

Historic environment

Volunteers have spent hundreds of hours surveying 12,163 hectares of Open Forest to find and record historical sites and stop them being lost forever.

A temporary exhibition explaining the HLS heritage work is attracting an average of 6,000 visitors a month at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst and runs until 24 January.

Bird surveys

Surveys of Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark and nesting waders took place during 2013 and 2014. The results showed that the populations of these rare birds, for which the New Forest is a stronghold, had previously fallen or were holding steady. This illustrated how important it is that the HLS scheme is continuing its work to improve habitats for these birds.


More than 11,000 children have learnt about the New Forest through school visits run by National Park Authority and New Forest Centre educators over the last five years. They cover topics including land management, and the often-conflicting needs of the environment and people.

Local school teachers attend an annual conference to help them understand how to embed learning about the New Forest into their school's curriculum.

 Habitat management

Over the last two years, work has begun to clear overgrown areas of the New Forest, which would traditionally have been heathland or grassland. These habitats and ‘lost lawns’ are important for rare ground nesting birds, such as lapwing.

So far more than 326 hectares has been cleared, equivalent to 456 football pitches, and over six hectares of ‘lost lawns’ have been returned to their former glory.

In addition, invasive rhododendron bushes have been removed or reduced from just under half of the New Forest to ensure they don’t overrun native plant life.

To find out more about the HLS scheme visit

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Community Wildlife Plans giving New Forest nature a fighting chance

Volunteers from the Blackwater Conservation Group
stand behind a mound of the non-native, invasive
Himalayan balsam plant.
A community-led conservation project is marking three successful years helping nature thrive in the New Forest.

Across the National Park, dedicated bands of nature-lovers are standing up for their local environment by tackling plant invaders, reinvigorating common land and sprucing up woodland.

The Community Wildlife Plans project encourages local communities to record, map and conserve wildlife in their local area and is supported by the New Forest National Park Authority.

Eight communities have taken part across the Forest, with over 200 people involved with conserving and monitoring their local green spaces to find out what wildlife lives on their doorstep.

The groups have become increasingly independent over the last two years, and recently came together for a celebration evening to share their experiences of the project. The event also marked the end of the first phase of the project, though groups will continue to work to recruit new volunteers and protect their local environment.

The information collected by the wildlife champions over the last three years has helped to produce Community Wildlife Plans for their parish. These documents bring together knowledge about habitats and species and look at the opportunities for improving wildlife sites locally.

Improvements carried out by volunteers during the project include:

  • Removing more than 2,000m of the invasive Himalayan balsam plant from the banks of the River Blackwater in the north of the New Forest and conducting a national pilot study of its water quality
  • Reintroducing ponies to Barton Common in New Milton for the first time in over 50 years to encourage wildlife and support New Forest commoners
  • Improving habitats for butterflies and other insects by introducing traditional woodland management practices such as coppicing in Milford Pleasure Grounds.
  • Angela Peters, Community Wildlife Officer, said: ‘Over the last three years it has been inspiring to meet so many people who want to protect their community’s wildlife for future generations.

‘Nature is under so much pressure from human activity across the country, but we can all make a difference through small actions that help wildlife habitats in our local area flourish.’

Tony Boyle, volunteer with the Blackwater Conservation Group, said: ‘The Community Wildlife Plans project came at a most opportune time for the creation of our group. The Blackwater River is highly regarded by local residents and as a result the group was formed in 2013 with the objective of protecting the river valley and environment for future generations.

‘We are extremely grateful to Angela Peters and the project for the invaluable support and guidance given to us during the past three years. As a result we are able to look to the future with greater confidence.’

The community groups involved in the celebration evening were:

  • Milford Conservation Volunteers
  • Blackwater Conservation Group
  • Hordle Environment Group
  • Transition Lymington
  • New Forest Area Conservation Volunteers
  • Volunteers from Barton Common.

To see the groups' achievements and get involved visit

The Community Wildlife Plans project was established with EU funding through New Forest LEADER and supported by a grant from the New Forest National Park Authority’s Sustainable Communities Fund.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Help sort to uncover history of New Forest WW I

WWI Indian wounded soldiers at Forest Park Hotel.
Wounded Indian soldiers heading to their tented
accommodation in the grounds of Forest Park Hotel.
c1914. Credit:
Volunteers with a fascination for the New Forest’s history are being sought to help uncover details of war-time activity a hundred years ago.

During World War I, the Forest was home to several hospitals for wounded New Zealand and Indian troops, training schools and camps which left a lasting impression on the landscape.

Now thanks to support from Exxon Mobil at Fawley, the New Forest National Park Authority is piecing together what life was like in the Forest during 1914-18.

So far seven volunteers are scouring thousands of pages of censored letters from Indian troops on the British Library website to find material relating specifically to the New Forest, but many more people are needed to help with the research.

The personal accounts and photographs will become part of an online archive of the Forest’s war-time history ( and will form an exhibition next year in the New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst.

WWI project officer Gareth Owen said: ‘There’s a huge number of aspects of the war years which the New Forest is best placed to tell – we know the old race course at Lyndhurst was a camp for thousands of soldiers before they set off for the front; there were military hospitals for the wounded; a naval air station at Calshot; a bomb school at Lyndhurst and even a training school for dogs helping on the frontline.

‘These very personal accounts helps us understand more about the role the New Forest played in the First World War and will create a legacy for future generations.’

To get involved in the the New Forest Remembers World War I Project contact Gareth Owen at or call 01590 646652.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

New Forest Ponies Firework Display Warning

New Forest ponies and a fireworks display.
Fireworks display organisers in the New Forest are being asked to be aware of New Forest PoniesNew Forest Ponies and other animals to avoid causing them injuries and distress. 

The livestock in the National Park can be easily frightened by loud bangs and bright lights on Guy Fawkes Night, causing them to panic and to run into the road or into fencing and injuring themselves.

Fiona Macdonald, Chairman of the New Forest Equine Forum, said: ‘We want everyone to enjoy the Bonfire night celebrations. However, we would ask that anyone thinking about organising a local firework display speak to their neighbouring landowners first so that those responsible for grazing animals can take necessary precautions to safeguard their stock. Horses are easily spooked by a sudden burst of fireworks, which can cause them a great deal of distress.’

Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘We would ask people to bear in mind that the ponies and cattle on the Forest are greatly affected by fireworks and that frightened animals can run onto the road.’

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

New Forest artist Sandy Poynter named Public’s favourite

Sandy Poynter New Forest Open Art exhibition winner
Sandy Poynter (right) with her People’s Prize
winning painting and New Forest Centre
manager Hilary Marshall.
A Brockenhurst-based artist Sandy Poynter has scooped a prize for her painting after record numbers of visitors saw the New Forest Open Art exhibition.

Over 14,000 people attended the exhibition at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst this summer, viewing dozens of pieces of art inspired by the wildlife, landscape and traditions of the New Forest.

More than 800 votes were cast by visitors to the annual exhibition, and Sandy Poynter’s painting was the clear winner, earning her a £100 prize.

The exhibition and associated competition were run by the New Forest National Park Authority and the New Forest Centre, and were sponsored by ExxonMobil at the Fawley Refinery.

Sandy said: ‘I’m thrilled to have won the People’s Prize in this year’s New Forest Open Art exhibition at the New Forest Centre. I’ve always had a passion for horses and I’m delighted that so many people have recognised and shared that passion with me through my painting.’

John Pemberton, New Forest National Park Authority member and trustee of the New Forest Centre, said: ‘It is easy to see why Sandy’s painting received the most votes from visitors to this summer’s Open Art exhibition. I congratulate her for triumphing over so many other accomplished artists, all of whom take their inspiration from the special qualities of the New Forest.’

If you’d like to see more of Sandy’s award-winning art, you can view her gallery on

View a video of the preview evening and an online photo gallery of this year’s entries at

Friday, 2 October 2015

Prestigious CPRE Hampshire Countryside awards for New Forest projects

Pondhead Conservation Trust volunteers Derek Tippetts
and Dave Dibden are presented with their
Community and Voluntary award, presented by
Gemma Lacey from The Southern Co-operative.
Volunteer projects returning traditional skills to the New Forest have been recognised by a countryside awards scheme.

Pondhead Conservation Trust and Buckler’s Hard Shipwright School were victorious in the annual Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Hampshire awards.

Both projects are funded by the New Forest National Park Authority’s Sustainable Communities Fund (SCF), which aims to strengthen the well-being and sustainability of communities within the National Park.

The CPRE Hampshire Countryside Awards was established in 2007 to recognise projects that enhance the environment and quality of life in the county.

Winner of the Green Buildings category was the Shipwrights School at Buckler’s Hard, which received a £20,000 SCF grant and is now home to students on rotation from the International Boatbuilding Training College in Portsmouth. It is hoped that the school will also help visitors to the attraction near Beaulieu will gain a better understanding of the industry which gave the village a place in British naval history.

Pondhead Conservation Trust won the Community and Voluntary category for its volunteers’ work to manage Pondhead Inclosure near Lyndhurst using traditional woodland skills. The charity received £23,000 from the SCF and aims to encourage a greater diversity of wildlife and plant life in the inclosure, as well as making the area more accessible for local people.

Marian Spain, National Park Authority Member, said: ‘I’d like to congratulate both these projects on their awards; they’re excellent examples of the benefits of the Sustainable Communities Fund.

‘We’re continuing to support projects that conserve the biodiversity of the National Park or encourage people to travel car-free and I look forward to supporting many more award-winning schemes in the future.’

Derek Tippetts, from Pondhead Conservation Trust, said: ‘Our project was set up to support and continue our coppice manager, Dave Dibden’s restoration work in this 76 hectare area of woodland in the heart of the New Forest in order to improve its biodiversity and public enjoyment.

‘We regard this prestigious award in our first year of operation as the "icing on the cake". It would not have been possible without our willing band of volunteers who turn up come rain or shine so this award is very much their award. If you would like to join us it's easy to do so on our website at’

The SCF is a grants scheme run by the New Forest National Park Authority that helps promote sustainable living and working within the National Park, with grants available for up to 75 per cent of a project’s cost.

This year the fund is looking to support projects that:

  • Provide sustainable transport options, to help enable visitors and residents to travel car-free in the New Forest and reduce the impact of traffic. 
  • Conserve the biodiversity of the National Park by supporting local landowners to deliver wildlife conservation improvements and resilience against climate change.

To find out more visit

Monday, 21 September 2015

Mapping the lost archaeology of the New Forest with new technology

Using lights and pin boards to identify archaeological sites found by Lidar
Lawrence Shaw, National Park Authority Heritage Mapping Officer,
using one of the exhibits, a Victorian surveying instrument
with a rotating telescope for measuring angles, called a theodolite.
Budding archaeologists of all ages can learn about the New Forest’s fascinating past at a new interactive exhibition.

With activities, videos and high-tech gadgets, the display tells the story of how new technology has helped map the lost archaeology of the New Forest.

The free exhibition runs from 18 September 2015 to 24 January 2016 at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst and charts the work of the Verderers of the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship scheme - a habitat restoration project run by the Verderers, New Forest National Park Authority, Forestry Commission and Natural England.

The scheme has been able to identify archaeological sites previously hidden beneath the tree canopy using a remote sensing technique known as Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar). The technique involves firing harmless lasers from a light aircraft to map potential sites.  

As well as reviewing the last five years of investigation, the exhibition will allow visitors to get hands on with heritage in a number of different ways, including:

  • Using lights and pin boards to identify archaeological sites found by Lidar
  • Becoming an armchair archaeologist and identify lost and forgotten archaeological features on an interactive touch table
  • Immersing yourself in interactive virtual reconstructions of archaeological sites, including a World War Two airfield and a Roman villa
  • Seeing Victorian surveying equipment provided by Ordnance Survey which would have once been used to map the New Forest.
  • Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, New Forest National Park Authority Chairman, said: ‘This exhibition gives people a chance to learn about the role that the Higher Level Stewardship scheme has played in protecting and managing the special habitats and heritage of the Open Forest.

‘I hope the interactive activities will help visitors find out more about how the scheme has utilised powerful new technology to peel back layers of the New Forest’s past.’

Dominic May, Official Verderer said: ‘The Verderers’ HLS scheme allows us to turn the clock back, restoring the New Forest by removing previous man-made interventions such as the deep channels dug in the 19th and 20th centuries to drain the timber plantations .

‘We have funded the Lidar project in order to improve our archaeological information. In turn that knowledge allows us to be careful not to disturb any ancient monuments, both those we knew about previously, and particularly those sites which the Lidar project has discovered for the first time.’

Shedding New Light on the New Forest’s Past runs 10am to 4.30pm daily from 18 September 2015 to 24 January 2016 at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst. Entry is free.

Find out more about Lidar by watching the film at


Check out The New Forest: Its History and Its Scenery
(Classic Reprint)
by John R. Wise


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Milford on Sea plans to improve wooded areas

Milford Conservation Volunteers working on restoring wooded areas.
Milford Conservation Volunteers restoring woodland footpaths.
Residents and wildlife in Milford on Sea are set to benefit from plans to improve wooded areas in the coastal village.

To ensure that the area’s woodlands continue to flourish, Milford on Sea Parish Council and the Milford Conservation Volunteers have worked with the New Forest Land Advice Service to develop a 10 year Woodland Management Plan.

Woodland covers 10 per cent of the parish, with many sites designated as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) and Local Nature Reserves. These broad-leaved woodlands boast a range of impressive native trees, including oak, ash and alder.

However these sites also contain non-native plants and trees, which affect the vitality of the woodlands’ native flora and the wildlife they support.

The plan seeks to tackle these challenges through measures that include:

  • Removing a small number of trees each year to improve the overall health of the woodland
  • Surveying invasive non-native plant species and eradicating the most harmful
  • Improving habitats for butterflies and other insects by traditional coppicing of some trees, which involves cutting them down to ground level to stimulate new growth
  • Creating more open sunny glades and maintaining existing glades
  • Restoring footpaths and important heathland habitat.

Graham Wells, Parish Clerk of Milford on Sea Parish Council, said: ‘The Parish Council thanks the Land Advice Service for all their efforts in the production of the 10 year management plan for the woodlands. Thanks also go to the Milford Conservation Volunteers for their efforts helping to manage the site for wildlife and people.’

Keith Metcalf, Milford Conservation Volunteer, said: ‘We are delighted that the Parish Council has adopted the Land Advice Service’s woodland management plan recommendations.

‘Local conservation volunteers have been at the forefront of helping develop the plan and have been instrumental in bringing the conservation management of the Pleasure Grounds woodlands to fruition over the past 20 years. We shall continue to offer our voluntary services to the council to undertake much of the work, which under the management plan will continue at a measured pace.’

Angela Peters from the New Forest Land Advice Service, said: ‘It’s excellent news to see these fantastically diverse woodlands being managed better for wildlife and local people. We hope that this plan will help butterflies, native bluebells and many other plants and animals associated with British woodlands thrive for years to come.’

A copy of the full management plan is available at the Milford Parish Office on the High Street in Milford on Sea from 10am to 12pm on weekdays or by emailing

Details of the work of the Milford Conservation Volunteers, and how you can get involved, can be found at

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.

Walking the South Coast of England
Every year, people flock to England’s south coast to visit heritage sites or simply to relax on the beach. But to see the real beauty that these glorious counties have to offer, pick up this detailed guide to some of the best walking in Britain.
David Bathurst has walked 650 miles of coast, taking in breath-taking natural landscapes and significant landmarks on the way. With rugged cliffs and ancient cathedral cities, historic ports and wonderful wildlife, there’s something for everyone; whether you’re a seasoned hiker ready to take on the entire walk, or a summertime stroller who wants to experience this rewarding ramble in smaller doses.
Download now on Kindle or Mobile Apps.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

New Forest Commoners Grants to support ancient tradition

Farmer Simeon Morgan with Rhys Morgan discussing New Forest Commoners Grant Scheme
Farmer Simeon Morgan with Rhys Morgan
of the New Forest Land Advice Service.
A new grants scheme has launched to provide commoners in the New Forest with much-needed funds to support their traditional way of life.

Commoners make use of ancient rights attached to their property to turn out livestock onto the open areas of the New Forest. This new scheme is intended for commoners with animals such as ponies, cattle and pigs grazing on the National Trust’s Northern Commons, which are:

  • Hale Purlieu
  • Bramshaw Commons
  • Ibsley Common
  • Rockford Common
  • Hightown Common.

The fund is administered by the New Forest Land Advice Service on behalf of the National Trust’s Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, providing individual grants of up to £1,000 for improvements such as:

  • Fencing for back up grazing sites where animals could be introduced
  • Replacing or renovating farm structures to support stock management      
  • Establishing livestock handling facilities
  • Introducing water supply to enable grazing
  • Creating hard-standing storage and feeding areas within a smallholding.

New Forest Land Advice Service Manager Julie Melin-Stubbs said: ‘We look forward to working with commoners who put animals out to graze on the Northern Commons by helping them apply to this new grants scheme.

‘Working in partnership with the National Trust, we hope to encourage commoners to undertake innovative work which will benefit their farms, livestock and the New Forest in general.’

Lee Hulin, National Trust Lead Ranger, New Forest Northern Commons, said: ‘Commoners’ free-ranging livestock are essential to the New Forest National Trust Commons, continually supporting the conservation of these precious open heath landscapes.

‘The National Trust is pleased to work with the Land Advice Service in offering grant support for sustainable commoning practice on our commons, to benefit the conservation of these areas for many years to come.’

Commoner Rick Manley, from Cadnam, said: ‘There are many challenges we face as commoners, including the ever-increasing cost of looking after animals and turning them out onto the Forest. This grant scheme should help commoners to maintain and improve the infrastructure that is essential if we are to continue with our traditional way of life.’

If you would like to find out more about applying for this grants scheme, visit Alternatively email or call land adviser Rhys Morgan on 01590 646688.

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.

Woodlands (Collins New Naturalist Library, Book 100)
The 100th volume of the prestigious New Naturalist series, written by one of Britain's best-known naturalists, explores the significance and history of woodlands on the British landscape.
‘Trees are wildlife just as deer or primroses are wildlife. Each species has its own agenda and its own interactions with human activities…’
Download now on Kindle or Mobile Apps.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Packhorse Walking - best way to experience the New Forest

Packhorse walking across the New Forest Hampshire UK
The sight of packhorses working on the New Forest is set to return after an absence of nearly 100 years thanks to the efforts of one Hampshire woman.

Gale Gould has started The New Forest Packhorse Company to reintroduce this ancient form of transport into the 21st century and promote the New Forest pony as a modern working breed. She regularly takes guests on walking trips across the National Park but instead of being laden with goods, which would have been the case in the early 20th century, the ponies carry picnics or guest’s belongings.

Gale said; “Walking in the company of a New Forest pony is one of the the best ways of experiencing the New Forest National Park. The ponies offer companionship and interest to our guests on their walks, plus a little bit of history. New Forest ponies would have been employed extensively as pack animals before the introduction of motorised forms of transport made their use redundant. Our packhorse walks represent a low-impact and leisurely way of experiencing the stunning scenery of the New Forest, and encountering the wildlife and the commoner’s free roaming animals. It’s a step back in time that harks back to a distant horse-drawn era.  Additionally, our ponies have been born and bred or roamed wild on the Open Forest and act as ambassadors for their breed by demonstrating the all-round capabilities and excellent temperaments of these amazing animals.”

The ponies used by The New Forest Packhorse Company have been trained to wear packing gear specifically designed for working animals and go unshod or wear special equine-boots to protect their feet. Gale is hoping to add more New Forest ponies to her string giving the breed, which is listed as ‘rare’ by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, a ‘grown-up’ use.

The packhorse walks take place all year round in the northern part of the National Park where people, walking along the tracks and pathways, are accompanied by a New Forest pony (which would have born or roamed wild on the Open Forest) and a host (Gale Gould).  Guests can choose from one hour, a half-day or full-day walk, which may included a picnic. See The New Forest Packhorse website – - for more information.


Walking in the New Forest: 30 Walks in the New Forest National Park
This guidebook describes 30 day walks of between 3 and 10 miles set right across the New Forest National Park. Suitable for all abilities, the walks can easily be combined into longer routes for greater challenges, through woodland, heath and along the coast, all illustrated with large-scale OS map extracts and vibrant colour photographs.
The area is also an animal lover's paradise, providing natural habitat to many types of wildlife including deer, all six of Britain's native reptiles and the New Forest's very own species of pony. The New Forest is a unique landscape of open heath and ancient woodland tucked into south-west Hampshire and south-east Wiltshire. To many, a key feature is the ancient and ornamental woods, and here can be found the greatest concentration of 'veteran' trees in western Europe. However, there is much more on offer, including 42km (26 miles) of coastline, the largest area of lowland heath in Britain and three-quarters of the valley mires in north-west Europe, as well as picture-postcard thatched cottages, ancient churches and cosy pubs.
And all this located within Britain's smallest national park, within easy reach of Southampton, Bournemouth and Salisbury.
Download now on Kindle or Mobile Apps.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

New Forest National Park Day with Free Family Activities

New Forest Centre Lyndhurst for National Park Day
New Forest Centre for
Discover your National Park Day
Families are being invited to discover the New Forest National Park with a host of free activities in Lyndhurst on Saturday (August 22).

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 (small charge for hobby ponies).

National Park Rangers will lead guided walks to the Open Forest to learn more about its history, culture and of course the ponies. The historic 13th century Verderers’ Court will be open, including a chance to visit and picnic in the gardens of the historic Queen’s House.

Gillie Molland, Lead Ranger at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: 'The Discover your National Park Day is one of the most popular family events of the year. It’s a great way to discover more about the New Forest, it’s ponies and ancient traditions.’

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

For more information visit

Friday, 14 August 2015

New Forest Walking Festival returns this autumn with 80 guided walks

Family at Boltons Bench Lyndhurst for New Forest Walking Festival
Family at Bolton's Bench in Lyndhurst
at the New Forest Walking Festival
The New Forest Walking Festival will return this autumn with 80 guided wildlife walks, history hikes and wild play adventures.

The expert-led walks will reveal the history, heritage and wildlife of the Forest during the festival from 17 October to 1 November, including half term.

The National Park is particularly dazzling during the autumn, with flat, accessible landscapes making it ideal for all ages and abilities. Prices vary, but many walks are free or discounted for those who travel by public transport, by bike or on foot.

Established by the New Forest National Park Authority with support from Forest organisations and businesses, the festival is sponsored by Stewarts, more than just Garden Centres.

Walks include discovering:

  • Free-roaming pigs, ponies and the traditional rights of commoning 
  • Ancient woods and the Forest’s largest oak tree
  • Wild play and family adventure walks
  • The Japanese practice of ‘Forest bathing’
  • World War II secrets from a prisoner of war camp
  • Guided packhorse and alpaca walks
  • Photography workshops in stunning locations.

Martin Stewart, owner of Stewarts, said: ‘We’re delighted to sponsor the New Forest Walking Festival for another year, and are thrilled to hear that it’s growing from strength to strength. The New Forest is unique and precious, and as a local family business we’re very supportive of local events that highlight its special qualities. We’re sure that all those who attend will care as passionately for it as we do.’

New Forest National Park Authority Deputy Chairman Edward Heron said:  ‘The New Forest Walking Festival only started two years ago with 11 guided walks, so to have 80 guided walks for 2015 shows how popular it has become.

‘The beauty of the New Forest’s autumn scenery is plain to see. But what really attracts people to the festival are the local experts, discovering surprising stories in the Forest’s unique landscapes.

‘Many walks finish near some wonderful local pubs and cafes, which helps support the local economy. The festival also reduces carbon emissions, by starting many walks from train stations or bus stops and offering car-free discounts, which will help protect the National Park for future generations.’

The New Forest Walking Festival is partly funded by a Department for Transport grant to encourage car-free travel in and around the New Forest National Park.

The festival is also supported by many local organisations including New Forest Destination Partnership, Brand New Forest, the Forestry Commission, New Forest District Council, New Forest Association and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

For full details, including booking, visit

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Almshouses Emery Down receive Royal seal of approval

Boultbee Cottages Almshouses Emery Down
Boultbee cottages almshouses Emery Down.
Photo by: David Balfour
Work to transform historic almshouses in Emery Down near Lyndhurst has received a Royal seal of approval.

The 140-year-old Victorian Boultbee Cottages have been given a prestigious award by the Prince of Wales after undergoing a £600,000 restoration programme.

The Trustees of the Grade II listed almshouses worked closely with planners and building conservation experts at the New Forest National Park Authority to ensure the buildings were brought up to modern standards but maintained the traditional character of the buildings.

Almshouses provide affordable housing for the vulnerable or needy and are run by local charitable trusts. The Emery Down Almshouses Trust has spent over five years raising the funds to restore and extend the five cottages which had become uninhabitable.

Jan Smart, Chairman of the trustees, said: ‘This is an unexpected honour and marks the completion of a long and frequently-daunting project. Emery Down is a very small village and without local support the plan to restore and extend the Almshouses would never have been attempted. The renovated cottages are a source of pride and the homes they provide are a joy to their tenants.

‘The intense interest shown in this scheme has emphasised the severe shortage of affordable housing to locals within the National Park. We are delighted to have been able to make a small contribution and at the same time to enhance the appearance of our picturesque village.’

Prince Charles is the patron of the Almshouses Association and gave his Patron’s Award to the Emery Down scheme, one of only two awarded this year. The awards celebrate excellence in architectural and living standards and recognise outstanding projects and developments.

Commenting on the scheme HRH the Prince of Wales said: ‘I hope the Award scheme will encourage all trustees who are considering building or altering the almshouses of which they are custodians to strive for the highest standards and thus to leave a legacy of which we can be justly proud.’

Pat Wyeth, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority Planning Committee, said: ‘The Grade II Boultbee cottages are an important part of the National Park’s heritage. Our planning and building design teams have been working with the trustees and architects since they first approached us in 2010 to ensure the restoration scheme of these Grade II properties was the best for the Forest and for future tenants. Advice included looking at traditional materials and keeping the modest scale of the buildings so they still look like traditional almshouses but at the same time bringing them up to modern standards. We’re delighted to see the finished scheme and that it has won such a prestigious and well-deserved award.’

The trustees are hoping the Prince will visit the Grade II listed cottages to present the plaque personally.

Much of the restoration cash came from the Almshouses Association, the Homes and Communities Agency and local donations. The Trust has had to take out a £240,000 mortgage to cover the rest of the cost and the trustees are appealing for donations. They can be sent to: Clerk to the Trustees Roger Riley, Home Farm, Emery Down, Lyndhurst, SO43 7FH.

Today there are around 1,800 almshouse charities. They provide 31,000 almshouses in the United Kingdom accommodating around 36,000 people.

Boultbee Cottages facts

  • The cottages are named after Emery Down’s main benefactor Admiral Frederick Boultbee
  • He moved to the village in 1856 and built the church in 1864, with the school and almshouses constructed in 1871
  • The almshouses cost £120 to build
  • The architect of the cottages was William Butterfield of the Oxford Movement and they are Gothic revival in character
  • Admiral Boultbee died in November 23rd 1876 and is buried in Christ Church, Emery Down.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Celebrate loved ones with NFNPA Family Tree Planting Scheme

Gruber family at Family Tree Planting event.
Sian, Rosie, Nik and Owen Gruber at a tree planting event.
Families are invited to celebrate a birth, marriage or life of a relative this year with the planting of a community woodland in the New Forest.

Anybody looking to celebrate a family member or life event can take part in the Family Trees scheme, run by the New Forest National Park Authority.

Registration is free and open to all, with the tree planting event taking place in Sway in the New Forest on 28 November. Anyone who registers will receive a free personalised certificate as a memento, even if they cannot attend the tree planting day.

Trees and woodlands are a key feature of the natural beauty of the New Forest and they also make an important contribution to the appearance of towns and villages within the area. As the Family Trees woodland grows and matures it will provide a legacy for future generations and provide a lasting memory of a loved-one.

Barry Rickman, Sway Parish Councillor and New Forest National Park Authority member said: ‘Planting a tree is a wonderful way to mark an important life event, celebrate a birth or remember a loved-one, as it keeps the memory of a family member alive for generations.

‘Sway is the perfect location for the first Family Trees community woodland in the New Forest as it’s a village with a population of all ages, from young families to senior citizens. I hope everyone who attends the tree planting event in November will enjoy visiting us and being part of creating a new woodland.’

The Family Trees project is supported by Sway Parish Council and Wessex Tree Surgeons.

To reserve your place for free visit

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Beach Bus 'Route 99' returns with free ice cream for passengers

Beach Bus 'Route 99' at Lepe Beach
Beach Bus at Lepe Country Park
The Beach Bus will return to the New Forest a week earlier this summer – renumbered ‘Route 99’ to highlight its free ice cream offer.

Passengers can claim their ice cream at Lepe beach on the summer service from Hythe to Lymington, which will now run every day from 19 July to 31 August.

Last year nearly 8,000 passengers hopped on board the Beach Bus which is run by operator morebus in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority, as part of a campaign to encourage more car-free travel in and around the National Park.

Passengers can again buy good value day tickets and enjoy 20% discounts at many attractions on route including Exbury Gardens, Buckler’s Hard, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and a new stop at Lymington’s Sea Water Baths.

There’s also free travel on the Hythe Ferry from Southampton, when passengers buy their Beach Bus ticket in Southampton at the Red Jet terminal.

Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, Chairman of the National Park Authority, said: ‘The Beach Bus makes it easy to access places like Lepe beach and Buckler’s Hard, which for many people could previously only be reached by car. We’re so pleased nearly 8,000 people chose to ride the Beach Bus last year, and I’m sure thousands more will do so this year, helping take cars off local roads, reduce pollution and the pressure on the National Park’s unique habitats.’

Ed Wills, operations director at morebus, said: ‘The Beach Bus only launched in 2013, but it has quickly become a popular service. More and more passengers are buying day tickets, hopping on and off at several places and making a real day of it. The free ice creams at Lepe have been particularly popular, to such an extent that we’ve changed the bus service number to “Route 99”.’

The Beach Bus is supported by New Forest Ice Cream, ExxonMobil at Fawley and My Journey Hampshire. For timetables and full details of offers visit

Monday, 13 July 2015

Architectural Nominations for Building Design Awards

Beaulieu Abbey Church
Beaulieu Abbey Church
From traditional thatched cottages to historic houses and more contemporary designs, the New Forest is renowned for the character of its buildings.

Now the New Forest National Park Authority has launched a Building Design Awards scheme to recognise the best new architecture and is asking people to nominate their favourite new buildings.

The Authority hopes that by celebrating the highest quality designs, the Awards will help to raise standards in new developments planned in the future.

Around 1,000 planning applications are submitted in the National Park each year – 88% of which are approved - and the awards scheme is another way to highlight the importance of good design in the National Park.

Pat Wyeth, New Forest National Park Authority Planning Committee Chairman, said: ‘When people think of the New Forest, it’s not just the breathtaking landscape and the ponies we enjoy but also the unique buildings which make the National Park so special.

‘As the planning authority for the Park, we place a strong emphasis on maintaining and improving the local character of the area through our policies; through working with communities to define what makes their area special so we can protect it; and by providing detailed guidance to people before submitting planning applications.’

Nominations can be made by anyone living or visiting the New Forest National Park and for a really good design that has been completed in the last three years.

People are welcome to nominate their own buildings and awards will be given in the following categories:

  • individual buildings
  • extensions
  • larger developments.

Nominations are open until 30 October 2015 and will be considered by a panel of National Park Authority members and staff, before the annual awards are announced in December 2015

Details of how to submit your nomination can be found at:

Monday, 6 July 2015

NFNPA Free Family History Event this July

Last years Stall Holders and Visitors at NFNPA History Event.
Stall holders and visitors at the 2014 New Forest Heritage Day.
Pilot an underwater vehicle, handle historical artefacts and discover high-tech archaeological gadgets at a free family history event this summer.

Run by the New Forest National Park Authority, the New Forest Heritage Weekend celebrates the rich history and heritage of the area. Expert archaeologists and historians will run events throughout the weekend of 18 and 19 July, including World War Two guided walks and interactive archaeological activities.

A variety of local organisations will have stands and give talks:

Learn how to survey and record archaeological sites being lost to nature with the CITiZAN team
An interactive computer touch table will help people learn about archaeology in the New Forest
RAF Ibsley Airfield Heritage Trust will offer an insight into work to restore the WWII control tower at the former RAF Ibsley, near Ringwood National Park archaeologists will be looking at archaeological surveys, historic maps and laser mapping as well as the Forest’s role during World War I and World War II.

The Heritage Weekend will take place on the coast at Lepe Country Park near Exbury. The event is part of the Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology - a national festival of more than 1,000 events between 11 and 26 July 2015.

New Forest National Park Authority Member John Pemberton said: ‘This event is a chance for people of all ages to find out more about the rich history of the New Forest by exploring a range of activities.

‘People will be able to get hands on, as well as learning from experts about how events in the Forest’s past have shaped the National Park into the special place it is today.’

The New Forest Heritage Weekend runs between 10.30am and 4pm on 18 and 19 July and is a drop in event with no booking required. For more information visit

Friday, 26 June 2015

Open Top Tour Bus returns for New Forest Summer 2015

Open Top Tour Bus returns for New Forest Summer 2015
The New Forest Open Top Tour Buses returns this weekend (27 June) – aiming to beat last year’s record passenger numbers.

Nearly 42,000 passengers hopped on the open-top’s three scenic routes last summer, enjoying views of the National Park’s unique landscapes, wandering ponies and picturesque villages.

Run by Go South Coast in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority, the Tour also offers new audio commentary, as well discounts at attractions such as the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, Exbury Gardens and New Forest Wildlife Park.

The New Forest Tour is a key part of the Authority’s aim to encourage more people to leave their cars at home, and is supported in part by the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

Last year the Tour saved around 226,000 private car miles. It also provides a boost to local businesses, contributing an estimated £680,000 to the New Forest economy whilst stopping at local villages and attractions.

Mark Holroyd, Transport and Tourism Manager at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The New Forest Tour was a great success last year, and I’m sure it will be another wonderful summer. As well as being a great experience, the Tour also helps protect the National Park’s unique landscapes by reducing congestion and carbon emissions.’

Andrew Wickham, Managing Director of Go South Coast, said: ‘We’re delighted that the New Forest Tour continues to grow from strength to strength. If the weather is as good as last summer, I’m sure it will be another great season.’

The New Forest Tour runs from June 27 to 13 September.

For more information and a 10% online discount visit, and

Saturday, 20 June 2015

5 Historical Sites You Must Visit in the New Forest

The New Forest is a truly unique national park in Hampshire, covered in mystical woodland, ‘chocolate box’ thatched cottages, wild ponies and historical sites. Although there is so much to choose from in the New Forest, we’ve compiled a list of our top 5 historical sites to visit during your stay here.

1. Rockbourne Roman Villa

Rockbourne Roman Villa New Forest Hampshire UK
Rockbourne Roman Villa
Photo: Hantsweb
The largest known Roman villa in the area, Rockbourne dates from the Iron Age to the 5th Century AD and showcases some of the best preserved Roman mosaics. Set in a picturesque farming estate and complete with living quarters, bath houses, workshops and farm buildings, this extensive historical gem truly is a sight to behold. It is still possible to see the outline of the villa’s 40 rooms and evidence of an underfloor heating system!

2. Beaulieu Abbey

Beaulieu Abbey New Forest Hampshire UK
Beaulieu Abbey - Photo: Beaulieu
Created by Cistercian monks in 1204 on land given to them by King John, Beaulieu abbey is a wonderful historic building, allegedly haunted by ghosts! Despite much of the abbey being destroyed during Henry VIII’s reign, there are still many parts to explore, including the incredible gardens, where monks would grow herbs for both cooking and medicinal purposes. You can even download an audio tour to listen to during your visit, giving you all the need-to-know information and insights into this magical place.

3. Eling Tide Mill

Eling Tide Mill Totton Hampshire
Eling Tide Mill
Photo: Totton & Eling Town Council
This 900 year old mill, located in Totton, is considered by many to be one of the most important heritage sites in the New Forest. Currently undergoing £1.3 million worth of restoration to bring it back to its former glory (due for completion in summer 2016), this amazing tidal mill is still grinding wheat into wholemeal flour today, just as it was in the 1100’s! For an authentic experience, why not apply to become a volunteer miller, where will use traditional methods and techniques to mill the wheat?

4. Bucklers Hard

Bucklers Hard Beaulieu New Forest Hampshire UK
Bucklers Hard
Photo: The New Forest Guide
Step back in time at Bucklers Hard, an 18th century shipbuilding village where boats were created using New Forest timber! Three of the ships that were built here saw action in the battle of Trafalgar, amongst other notable craft. With a museum, cottages, woodland walks and river cruises to discover, you can get a real feeling for what life must have been like in this historic village, from all angles! It is even possible to stay here at the Master Builder’s House Hotel, enabling you to wander the street at night for that genuine experience.

5. Breamore House & Countryside Museum

Breamore House and Countryside Museum
Breamore House
Photo: Breamore House
Currently in its ninth generation of family ownership, this incredible Elizabethan manor house and museum gives the opportunity to experience how the aristocracy of the New Forest have lived since 1583. Amongst tapestries, needlework, porcelain and furniture dating back several hundred years, Breamore is also home to a plethora of steam powered farm machinery and tractors. After whiling away your afternoon with all that Breamore has to offer, why not pop into their tea room for a spot of lunch or a homemade cake?

We’re sure there’s something in our top 5 for everyone, but the New Forest doesn’t stop there! Take a look through our website for other fun filled activities and notable places to visit in the New Forest - there’s lots to choose from!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Arts in the Park 2015 Lymington

“Arts in the Park” is back this year at Bath Road Recreation Ground, Lymington (SO41 3SE). And the residents in Bath Road have been so welcoming – among our first customers on our first day in the sun!

Art in the Park Bath Road Recreation Ground Lymington

Wonderful feedback from the public – thank you for your support.  Comments have ranged from they love the personal touch from our artists and crafters to make individual items to order; the personal service they receive; the prices are so reasonable; it’s so great to see the recreation grounds being put to good use; fun for the children to bounce on the rides or have their faces painted; New Forest Ice Creams from “Brock Ice” and really good food & coffee from “Jimmy Bean”; great music from the NF Town Band.  These were just some of the comments we received.

From next week we will have a children’s illustrator and story teller with puppets; art recreation therapy group will be working with children and adults; and a magician – just for fun!

Our first day was blessed with good weather – long may it last.  The music was great and the audience really appreciated it – chilling in the sun in a deck chair or dancing to live music.  The dogs, the children – some playing football, older ones practising their rugby throws, mums & dads enjoying time out, cyclists, yachties & the sailing fraternity, visitors from London and elsewhere – a delightful mix of our world.

On a sadder note two of our banners were stolen, and some of the notices on Moore Blatch railings were torn down.  So its not all plain sailing.....

But join us in Bath Road Recreation ground any Sunday until 26th July.
We’ll be there and would love to see you!

Anyone who wishes to participate or contribute as a sponsor please contact 
Fran: (mobile – 079649 55703 or 01590 671570)
Colm: (mobile 07525405943)

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Camping in the New Forest Hampshire UK

Typical camp site scene in the New Forest

The New Forest National Park is a stunning place for camping in the New Forest with its utterly preserved natural beauty, teeming with wildlife, flowers, streams, ancient trees and rolling green farmland. Attracting thousands of visitors every year, people flock to the first national park in the South of England, revealing in the peaceful, tranquil surroundings that harp back to ancient times.

It’s the only part of South East England that’s preserved and protected from modern development, with its landscape probably still navigable by the likes of William the Conqueror, who used to hunt there hundreds of years ago. Without visiting the area and seeing for yourself what majestic England looks and feels like, you’ll never truly grasp the beauty of it.

So if, like many, you’re planning a trip to the New Forest to see it for yourself, then you may well be looking for somewhere to stay - and where better to stay then right in the heart of it, at one with nature?

Camping in the New Forest Hampshire is extremely popular in the New Forest National Park, and there’s a host of great campsites for you to pitch your tent. There’s literally something for everyone, with basic and luxury campsites, caravan sites and even log cabins.

Forest holidays has ten stunning campsites, most without facilities, so you can truly immerse yourself in the outdoors. Aldridge Hill, for example, is a natural camping and caravan site with no facilities, located in a heathland clearing and bordered by Ober Water and Blackwater Stream.

Then there’s Ashurst, popular amongst many campers for providing a great taste of the best of New Forest, set in a stunning woodland glade and failing to disappoint.

If you’re looking to surround yourself with old oak trees, Denny Wood, Matley Wood, and Setthorns are all fantastic, set in grassy clearings amongst scattered oaks and entirely secluded - affording you true tranquility and privacy. Hollands Wood is also a great site if you’re looking to surround yourself with oak trees and is the winner of the David Bellamy Silver Conservation Award.

Travelling with kids can be tough if you can’t keep them entertained, but Holmsley camping and caravan site is just a short drive from the beaches of Christchurch and Bournemouth, and the grassland site has plenty of space for them to play too.

If you’re looking for an open heathland site with plenty of blue sky, space (and toilets!) then Ocknell Caravan Park and Camping Site is for you, whilst Longbeech site is tucked away nearby in the midst of an ancient beech wood and is facility free.

Roundhill Caravan Park and Camping Site is perhaps the best option if you’re staying with the whole family, with the spacious heathland site offering refurbished facilities and more than enough space for the children to run around.

If it’s real luxury that you’re looking for though, then perhaps somewhere like Sandy Balls Holiday Centre would suit you. Nestled in 120 acres of breathtaking woods and parkland right on the border of the legendary River Avon, this all year round holiday park offers a whole host of guest facilities. Quite literally everything you could wish for is catered for here - with accommodation ranging from fully serviced touring and camping pitches to ReadyTents and luxury cabins. There’s indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an entirely indulgent beauty suite, stunning onsite restaurants and bistros in the newly refurbished central pedestrianized piazza, and even a state of the art gym! Hire a bike and go cycling through the woods, or take a leap and go horse riding - you name it, you can do it here in style.

There’s something for everyone in the New Forest National Park, and even in the most luxurious and modern of venues the emphasis is always on organic, back to nature living. You won’t regret a trip to this amazing destination, and whether you opt for the basic facility free nature sites or the luxury, facility loaded holiday parks, there’ll be no doubt in your mind that your holidaying in a place of genuine and valued prehistoric natural beauty.

Below are descriptions and links to websites giving you full details about camp sites in the New Forest. Hope you find and enjoy that perfect holiday.

New Forest Camping with Camping in the Forest

Camping in the Forest has 10 New Forest campsites, each brimming with natural beauty. Book your next trip online today and try New Forest camping with us.

New Forest Campsites | Caravans | Touring | Holiday Parks

The New Forest campsites are a haven for campers and caravanners and we are spoilt for choice with our New Forest Holiday Parks, providing excellent services and hospitality.

Campsites in New Forest - Cool Camping

Covering swathes of south west Hampshire, the New Forest, despite it’s name is almost a thousand years old. Miles of open heath and thick woodland are the ideal backdrop to any holiday and if you dream of camping in a peaceful hideaway, the New Forest is the perfect escape.

Camping and Caravanning Directory

Thousands of details of campsites, retailers, free classified ads, a message board, weather forecast, camping articles and newsletter plus loads more.

The Camping and Caravanning Club

Our ten picturesque New Forest caravan and camping parks are all located deep within beautiful woodland.

New Forest Campsite Long Meadow Brockenhurst

New Forest camping at Long Meadow Campsite, New Forest National Park. Peaceful 18-acre site, 100 spacious pitches (28 with electricity).

Red Shoot Camping Park

All our pitches are on grass, 45 of which have electrical hook ups. Our shop, which is open 7 days a week. The modern toilet block has underfloor heating for the cooler months.

New Forest Camping - New Forest National Park

Enjoy some great New Forest camping with a choice of ten official campsites. Complete listing and info here.

Camping and Caravanning - New Forest Online

A selection of Camping and caravanning sites in the New Forest National Park. These sites offer excellent locations within the heart of the Forest.

Sandyballs | Short breaks and holidays in the New Forest

Choose from 5-star luxury lodges, caravans, camping pods or award-winning touring and camping pitches.


The New Forest: The best pubs, restaurants, sights and places to stay
A National Park since 2005, the New Forest offers a slice of largely wooded England that has changed little since it was created in 1079. Relatively flat and criss-crossed with gravel tracks, footpaths and even a disused railway, the woodland and open heathland is perfect for walking and cycling. The park also supports a healthy population of wildlife, including deer and its most famous residents, the New Forest ponies, which roam at will. The forest also flanks a large section of coast, and although much of it is outside the park proper, you’ll find some great beaches and harbour towns nearby. The best of these is Lymington, once a haunt of smugglers and now a yachties’ favourite and gateway to the Isle of Wight.
Download now on Kindle or Mobile Apps.

Newts return to restored New Forest pond

A pond restoration project aiming to benefit wildlife has achieved instant success, with a family of newts returning to the site.

Young volunteers inspect Lover Green pond during work by the New Forest National Park Authority
and Lover Green Association to restore the pond to benefit wildlife.
The pond is situated in Lover in the north of the New Forest and had become overgrown in recent years, making it less attractive to wildlife.

The project received nearly £2,000 in funding from the New Forest National Park Authority’s Sustainable Communities Fund and has been led by the Lover Green Association. This support has helped volunteers to successfully restore the pond to its former glory, with the aim of benefiting amphibians, wild flowers and insects.

Professional contractors removed overhanging trees and undertook landscaping work to prepare the site. Around 30 volunteers then helped to shift tonnes of sand and put down the underlay and huge rubber liner, before filling the pond with water, all under the supervision of New Forest National Park Authority ranger Craig Daters.

The benefit to local wildlife was immediately obvious, as the following day saw newts, water beetles and pond skaters making themselves at home in the pond.

Craig Daters, New Forest National Park Authority ranger, said: ‘It’s been great helping the local community to restore this wildlife pond, and seeing it full of water makes all their hard work worthwhile.

‘The Sustainable Communities Fund grant helped to purchase the equipment and materials required, and the enthusiasm and commitment of local people has made this project happen. They have worked tirelessly to develop the pond, which will improve the natural biodiversity of the Green and provide opportunities to educate people about nature.’

Mar Copp [correct], secretary to Lover Green Association, said: ‘Led by Craig we have shifted four tonnes of sand, profiled the pond, laid the underlay and liner and part filled it with water. We then left it to settle and were amazed to find that newts had moved in the very next day!

‘The pond will greatly enhance the biodiversity of the Green and provide enjoyment and education for the local community. Thank you to the National Park Authority for the grant that made this possible and for their support and guidance throughout the work.’

Over £160,000 in grants were allocated by the SCF in the last financial year, bringing in an additional £176,000 of match funding to the National Park area from other sources.

The SCF is a grants scheme run by the New Forest National Park Authority that helps promote sustainable living and working within the National Park, with grants available for up to 75 per cent of a project’s cost.

This year the fund is looking to support projects that:
  • Provide sustainable transport options, including cycling facilities, to help enable visitors and residents to travel car-free in the New Forest and reduce the impact of traffic. 
  • Conserve the biodiversity of the National Park by supporting local landowners to deliver wildlife conservation improvements aimed at ensuring the landscape stays intact and is resilient against climate change.
To find out more visit

Before applying for a grant please contact the grants officer on 01590 646634 or email

Monday, 18 May 2015

Animal accidents map shows worst New Forest roads

New Forest organisations are appealing for motorists to take more care as a new map is published to highlight the worst roads for animal accidents.

New Forest animal accidents map
Click map for larger view
The map shows 138 accidents across the Forest in 2014, with more than a third of accidents taking place on just three roads:

  • B3078 from Cadnam to Godshill – 24 accidents
  • B3054 from Hatchet Pond to Portmore – 16 accidents
  • B3056 from Hatchet Pond to Lyndhurst – 13 accidents 

The map also shows a cluster of accidents from Picket Post to Burley Street and by Bolton’s Bench in Lyndhurst.

A number of Forest organisations work together to reduce the number of accidents including the Verderers, the Commoners Defence Association, New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire Constabulary, the Forestry Commission, New Forest District Council and Hampshire County Council.

The overall number of accidents fell in 2014 to 138 (from 181 in 2013). But Forest organisations are warning against any complacency, especially among motorists who travel across the Forest each day as most incidents involve people who live in or close to the New Forest. This is particularly important as many foals are born at this time of year.

Initiatives include fitting reflective pony collars, changing road warning signs to keep drivers’ attention, traffic calming measures, verge cutting to increase visibility and awareness campaigns.

The Commoners Defence Association has also developed a project, with funding from the Verderers, to have 80% of the time of a police officer and an infra-red speed camera to patrol Forest roads day and night. In March alone, 495 motorists were caught driving over the speed limit on unfenced roads where animals can wander into the road.

Sue Westwood, Clerk to the Verderers, said: ‘New Forest ponies and cattle are free to roam the New Forest and it’s their grazing activity which shapes the iconic landscape. We hope this map will be a visual reminder to motorists to be aware of animals as they’re driving. Although accidents are spread across the Forest and their distribution changes every year, there are particular roads which always seem to have a high number of accidents.’

Nigel Matthews, Head of Recreation Management and Learning at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘Local motorists should never assume that it won’t happen to them. One day that animal beside the road will step out at the last minute, so go slowly and give it a wide berth. The speed limit is 30 or 40mph for a reason. Animals are on the road day and night, and unfortunately have no fear of cars.’

Graham Ferris, Chairman of the New Forest Commoners Defence Association, said: ‘We hope that the presence of the mobile speed camera on the unfenced roads will encourage motorists to observe the speed limit and thereby give themselves a better chance of avoiding accidents which kill and injure commoners livestock and risk the safety of drivers and  passengers .’

Driving tips:

  • Be ready to stop - ponies may step out even when they’ve seen you approaching
  • Slow down, especially at night and when other cars are approaching with their headlights on
  • Give animals grazing by the side of the road a wide berth
  • Take extra care when there are animals on the verges on both sides of the road – they may cross to join their friends.
  • Consider travelling on the fenced roads (such as the A31, A337 and A35) so that you don’t have to cross the open Forest.
  • The faster you are going, the greater the damage will be to the animal, your car and your passengers - start your journey early so you don’t have to hurry.

If you witness or are involved in an accident involving a pony, donkey, cow, pig or sheep, call the Police (999 for an emergency or 101 if it’s not an emergency). Animal emergency hotline cards also give you the numbers to call if you see sick, injured or distressed animals. Cards are available from garages and Local Information Points across the New Forest. To stock the cards contact the New Forest National Park Authority at

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