Popular Forest Festival returns with a theme of accessibility

This year the New Forest Walking and Cycling Festival runs for two weeks from October 14-29, with plenty of expert-guided walks for all interests and abilities, such as wildlife, heritage, arts, and culture.

The festival aims to encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the special qualities of the National Park, with many walks available on accessible tracks graded on the Miles Without Stiles system as ‘suitable for some’ – meaning strong and confident wheelchair users and helpers, and off-road mobility scooters may find these routes within their abilities.

It is also a brilliant opportunity to explore the forest responsibly on two wheels. All rides follow designated cycle trails across the National Park and are led by qualified guides.

If you need help getting into the saddle, inclusive cycling charity PEDALL will be encouraging people on board its extensive range of specialist cycles, developed for people with additional needs. The charity is also offering confidence rides on two-wheeled bikes, including e-bikes.

Last year more than 700 people took part in over 90 events as part of a very successful ten-year anniversary. This year’s festival hopes to be just as successful; and encourage those who don’t normally venture into the New Forest to see what makes it so unique.

Walking and cycling in the New Forest is a great way to enjoy the National Park and improve your mental and physical wellbeing. You can also find routes to enjoy year-round on the New Forest National Park Authority website, or by downloading the New Forest National Park Walks app.

For more information about the New Forest Walking and Cycling Festival go to newforestnpa.gov.uk/walkingfestival

Artist in Residence

Great British Life: Artist Mel RoseArtist Mel Rose

The latest New Forest National Park Artist in Residence will exhibit throughout October at SpudWORKS, in Sway.

In May, artist Mel Rose underwent her residency at the arts and education charity SPUD, in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority. Mel is a painter and focuses on the theme of place and how art can be used as a vehicle for change.

The next artist, Alex Julyan – along with mentee Ben Adamson – will also begin her residence In October and will exhibit in May 2024.

Fabulous fungi

Great British Life: Fly agaricFly agaric

An autumnal New Forest offers a landscape of weird and wonderful mushrooms and toadstools. With almost 2,700 species contributing to the biodiversity and ecosystem of the National Park, it is one of the most important sites for safeguarding Britain's fungi kingdom. While it’s a great time to explore the forest to observe fungi, always remember to look and don't pick. Please contact the landowner if you suspect or see commercial picking. Call Forestry England on 0300 067 4600 or the National Trust on 01425 650035. forestryengland.uk/fungi-the-new-forest

Re:New Nature

Great British Life: Banded demoiselle. Image: Peter LeCointeBanded demoiselle. Image: Peter LeCointe

The redoubling of efforts to protect the New Forest, seen as an “ark for wildlife”, is at the heart of a key campaign by the National Park Authority and Forest partners.

A huge amount of work has already been achieved in the globally important site for nature, including improving freshwater habitats and restoring heathlands.

Alison Barnes, CEO of the NFNPA said: "The idea of the Re:New Nature Challenge is to achieve this in a more collaborative and co-ordinated way and, crucially, to attract funding into both the public and private sector to secure the New Forest for future generations."