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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