The New Forest National Park Authority has changed its popular annual walking festival to a self-guided two-week walking and cycling event and is encouraging people to step outside with the help of a range of resources.

The festival has been running for seven years and normally has around 80 guided walks with experts who help unlock the secrets of the New Forest. Cycling was going to be introduced for the first time this year.

Now the National Park Authority is encouraging people to improve their health and wellbeing during the pandemic thanks to a virtual festival from 17 October to 1 November with online resources.

There’s an opportunity to discover some hidden gems and explore the landscape safely, responsibly and at your own pace.

Nigel Matthews, the National Park Authority’s Head of Recreation Management and Learning said: ‘It’s hugely disappointing for all our participants, organisers and staff to have to cancel this year’s festival due to Covid-19 restrictions.

‘However, we’re still able to get outside and we have a wealth of resources to help people discover different aspects of this incredible landscape for themselves.

‘The National Park is a wonderful place to walk and cycle during the autumn, with flat, accessible routes that allow people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the Forest’s fiery foliage. It’s also easy to travel around car-free to help protect this amazing environment.’

Those taking part are encouraged to share photos and updates while out and about using #newforestwalks or #newforestcycles and to sign up to the National Park email newsletter via the website for the latest updates.

Everyone is asked to adhere to the latest Government guidelines and follow the Countryside Code and New Forest Code.

Top six tips for discovering the New Forest National Park on foot

  1. Check out the walking and cycling routes on the National Park Authority’s website map:
  2. Download the National Park Authority’s routes app for iphone or Android.
  3. Follow some new historic routes:
  4. Learn how to spot the National Park’s amazing wildlife with our ID tips:
  5. Watch guided walks from your sofa on the New Forest National Park YouTube channel:
  6. Please follow the New Forest Code to help protect the landscape, wildlife and livestock:

Why not visit one of our members while on your walk – you can find a details of all our members here.