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The National Forest Way

May 1, 2014


Launch date set for new long distance trail the National Forest Way

The new long distance walking trail, the National Forest Way, will be launched on Saturday 17 May.

The trail, which has been five years in the making, uses public rights of way and permissive paths to take walkers on a journey of discovery through the length and breadth of The National Forest.

The 75-mile trail extends from the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to Beacon Hill Country Park in Leicestershire, and can be walked west to east or east to west.

The Way is divided into 12 stages with directional leaflets available for each stage. Walkers can dip in for a day, walk for the weekend or take on the whole 75 miles in one go!

“The National Forest Way is a great way to explore the variety of The National Forest,” said Sophie Churchill, Chief Executive, National Forest Company. “It’s suitable for experienced and new walkers alike, and is full of surprises. I ‘test walked’ it and loved getting a sense of the whole of the Forest –the varied and unexpected aspects of this transformed landscape, all framed by woodland. The trail leads through young and ancient woodlands, market towns and the industrial heritage of this changing landscape at the heart of the Midlands.”

Fisher German’s Ashby de la Zouch office is based at the heart of The National Forest and sponsors the National Forest Way. Partner Andrew Bridge, who has been involved in the project since it started, said: “I have also walked parts of the National Forest Way and enjoyed every minute of it. I know this area well and the transformation has really helped make the trail options clearer and easier for everyone to enjoy.”

Catherine Graham-Harrison, Chair of the National Forest Company, said: “The opening of the Way is like a coming of age for us. Many years’ work has gone into creating the Forest, with more than 8 million trees having been planted and new habitats created and maintained – meadows, grassland, wetland, and, of course, woodland. There’s still more to do, alongside our partners and local communities, to create and maintain this wonderful forest for everyone, but the opening of the long distance trail is a marvellous way to show how far we’ve come.”

The National Forest Way is accompanied by leaflets, online information and clear signage, and with links into the main towns across the Forest it will attract people who love walking, exploring the English countryside and discovering new places.  

The National Forest Way has been created by a partnership of the National Forest Company and Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire County Councils, with the generous support of Fisher German and the valuable contribution of local landowners.

Find out more at


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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