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Walk the National Forest Way

January 14, 2014

Lace up your boots for the National Forest Way

The new National Forest Way long distance trail opens in May 2014, and takes walkers on a fascinating journey through a transforming landscape at the heart of the Midlands.

The route takes in 75 miles of public and permissive footpaths, crossing the length and breadth of The National Forest from the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to Beacon Hill Country Park in Leicestershire (the route can be walked from east to west or west to east).

The trail leads through young and ancient woodlands, hidden valleys, along canal towpaths, visits the market town of Ashby de la Zouch and celebrates the industrial heritage of this changing landscape at the heart of the Midlands. Walkers will witness the area’s evolution from a rural landscape, through industrialisation and its decline, to the modern-day creation of a new forest, where 21st century life is threaded through a mosaic of green spaces and settlements.

Richard Drakeley, Tourism Development & Promotions Officer, National Forest Company, said: “The route we are about to launch will really open up the Forest for walkers, enabling them to see for themselves the transformation taking place. Situated right in the heart of the country, I think many people will be enticed by this new route and enjoy the interest and variety they will find here. As well as planting over 8 million trees since the early 1990s, many different wildlife habitats have been created, all adding to the experience of walking through this unique mix of rural and post-industrial landscape. Whether you walk it in one go, or in stages, the National Forest Way is going to be a great one to chalk up!”

The National Forest Way will be launched as part of the 2014 National Forest Walking Festival, and is being created by a partnership of the National Forest Company and Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire County Councils, with the generous support of Fisher German.

Accessible for experienced and new walkers alike, the National Forest Way will be accompanied by leaflets, online information and clear signage. With links into the main towns across The National Forest it will provide a new and easily reached outdoor challenge for the 10 million people living within an hour and a half of one of the country’s boldest landscape transformations.



Media contact: Carol Rowntree Jones, Media Relations Officer,
National Forest Company,
01283 551211
Digital images are available – please contact


1.The National Forest area covers 200 square miles of the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.  Its objective is to increase woodland cover within its boundaries from an initial six per cent to about a third. No multi-purpose forest on this scale has been created in the UK for one thousand years. To date the proportion of woodland cover in the Forest has more than trebled to 19 per cent and in 2012 HRH the Duke of Cambridge planted the eight millionth tree in the Forest. 

2. Year by year, The National Forest has been steadily turning what was once one of the least wooded areas of England into a multi-purpose, sustainable forest.  The National Forest provides environmental, social and economic benefits, including landscape enhancement, creation of new wildlife habitats and major new access and leisure opportunities. It is an excellent example of sustainable development – with environmental improvement providing a stimulus both to economic regeneration and to community pride and activity.

3.To achieve these objectives, the National Forest Company leads the creation of The National Forest, working in partnership with landowners, local authorities, private business, voluntary organisations and local communities and has strong support from Government, politicians and the public.  The Company receives grant in aid from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

4.The Independent Panel on Forestry, in its final report published in July 2012, stated: ‘The National Forest exemplifies how a long term, resourced and focused agenda can increase publicly accessible woodland in an area alongside other environmental and economic benefits.’

5. In 2008, the National Forest Company and partners won the inaugural Sustainable Development UK Award, for their work in Ashby Woulds, at the heart of The National Forest.


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