Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Have an Open Top Bus Tour through the New Forest

Following the successful trial of a new open top bus route in the north and west of the National Park last year, this Saturday - 30th June 2012 - sees the launch of both this new ‘red’ route and the well-established ‘green’ route through the New Forest.

The two New Forest Tour will both run for 79 days during this summer until Sunday 16th September 2012 and will ensure spectacular views of the landscape in the National Park.

This new 'red' route takes in Sandy Balls Holiday Centre at Godshill, Ashurst, Lyndhurst, Burley, Ringwood, and for the first time through the centre of Fordingbridge - whilst the 'green' route goes through Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst, Beaulieu, Exbury and Lymington- now stopping at the MacDonald Elmers Court Hotel and Resort.

As well as being a unique way to discover the National Park and find out about the culture and history of the area through a new GPS activated audio commentary, the Tour is an important contributor to the local economy. It also reduces traffic by encouraging people out of their cars and on to the hop-on hop-off bus routes.

David Harrison, Lead Member for Transport at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘Feedback from last year was fantastic so we’re delighted to be expanding the operation and running both routes for the whole of the summer season.’

‘Recent research identified that over 147,000 private car miles were saved by the New Forest Tour in 2011 and that its customers generated a contribution of nearly £500,000 to the local economy.

‘It has been a continuing success, growing from 9,000 passenger journeys in 2006 to nearly 34,000 last year.’

Hilary Marshall, Manager of the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst, said ‘The New Forest Centre is ideally located where both New Forest Tour routes intersect in Lyndhurst village centre car park. The New Forest Tour provides a great way for visitors to access Lyndhurst and see the wider Forest in a sustainable way. We are looking forward to welcoming many New Forest Tour customers to the New Forest Centre during the summer.’

New Forest Tour customers will also receive a New Forest Tour Official Guide, which includes a Brand New Forest card with offers available at businesses along the route, including places to eat and drink, shops, and attractions.

A range of flexible ticket options is available including a two-day ticket valid on both routes (adults £14), and group tickets for up to five people of £28 a day.

The New Forest Tour is a partnership between Bluestar, Wilts and Dorset, and the New Forest National Park Authority.

Tickets for the tours can be booked online, as well as more information can be found at www.thenewforesttour.info.

Friday, 22 June 2012

2 for 1 entry at National Trust properties with this Saturday's Telegraph

With 61 pubs and inns, 59 villages, Four World Heritage Sites, Britain’s oldest nature reserve, 49 churches, 9 monasteries and over 300 historic homes, the National Trust is the largest voluntary conservation organisation in Europe - looking after one in 10 of all the museums in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

And with The Telegraph this Saturday - 23rd June - there's a special 2 for the price of 1 offer to coincide with the launch of the National Trust's ‘Summer of Celebration’, which is running right through the summer to the end of the Paralympics in September.

For a relaxing day out, find the perfect spot to lay out your picnic rug, seek out a quiet corner or an inspiring view, or find a tea room and watch the world go by. Fantastic events taking place this summer include exciting outdoor music and theatre in stunning settings, friendly outdoor picnics and fascinating guided tours.

If getting out and about and being active is more your thing, there’s plenty going on too, from kite flying and cycling to guided walks and nature trails. Why not take a walk and see what you can discover in gardens, parks and landscapes across England, Wales and Northern Ireland?

However you want to spend your day out, there’s something for all the family with the National Trust this summer.

The voucher in Saturday 23rd June's Telegraph gives 2 for 1 entry at participating sites until July 8, 2012.  For more details, visit http://www.telegraph.co.uk/promotions/9332218/2-for-1-entry-national-trust.html

May we recommend the excellent Cragside http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cragside/ - at £13.20 per adult, getting 2 for 1 is a great way to see a fantastic house and gardens!

And you can follow Cragside on Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/ntcragside

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Bear Grylls makes zip wire dash with Olympic flame

In case you haven't seen this, outdoor adventurer and Chief Scout Bear Grylls with the Olympic Flame...

Picture copyright BBC


Friday, 15 June 2012

The Walking Diet with Joanna Hall

The Telegraph is on a bit of a walking fix at the moment.  Well, this wekend - the 16th and 17th of June - sees a free booklet and DVD from the Diet and Fitness Expert Joanna Hall.

The plan aims to transform your body in 28 days with an exclusive booklet and DVD.

The Walking Diet will help you get the best from your body by teaching it to use the right muscles in the right way; improving your posture, shaping your middle and aiding flexibility.

The four-week programme includes daily exercise and nutrition tasks to help you see results, fast.

For more information visit: www.telegraph.co.uk/joannahall

Thursday, 14 June 2012

New Forest's smallest visitor information centre celebrates its first birthday

It's the New Forest's most unusual visitor information centre - and it recently celebrated its first birthday.

The iconic BT telephone box was last year transformed by the local community after Lyndhurst Parish Council adopted it as part of the UK-wide ‘adopt a kiosk’ scheme for £1.

With help from the New Forest National Park Authority they installed information and local history panels, a map for walkers and swap shop for books, DVDs and local produce. The village pub (New Forest Inn) even donated a dog bowl. It also has a notice board advertising everything from film nights to church services and a donations box.

Jim Mitchell, Interpretation Officer at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The community has worked really hard and it’s good to see it paying off. They continue to dedicate their own time towards this project that not only helps the whole community but also passers-by and walkers.

‘It was great to be part of this and it’s good to hear about people using the kiosk and learning about this special area of the National Park. The kiosk is in the street that was almost certainly the birthplace of ‘Brusher’ Mills, the New Forest’s famous snake catcher.’

Emery Down resident Peter Power was one of the driving forces behind the project. He said: ‘It has been a great first year - the kiosk and a large display of local history have proved to be very popular.

‘We have also been overwhelmed by people’s generosity making donations. In the first 12 months we have received over £350 which has helped purchase banners, light bulbs and much more for the nearby village church.

‘We have received so much positive feedback in our visitor’s book from people travelling from as far away as Australia.’

The telephone box is on the Lyndhurst Parish walk, a 13.5km trail that takes in Lyndhurst village centre, Bolton’s Bench and the Forest.

Part of this track from Silver Street to Blackwater has recently been upgraded thanks to grants from the New Forest National Park Authority’s Access Forum and Hampshire County Council’s Access Forum with help from the Forestry Commission. This will now provide an alternative route for walkers to Mill Lane away from the busy road.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Discover the wild side of Wester Ross

How about watching seals basking on unspoilt shores? Or spotting sea eagles soaring above spectacular Scottish scenery? Perhaps watching for whales and basking sharks on the water? 

Well, there’s an open invitation to experience all of this at Wild About Nature week in Scotland’s Wester Ross.

Organisers are hoping this inaugural week long event, running from 21st-28th June and located in the outstanding landscape of the north west Highlands of Scotland, will appeal to everyone from outdoor enthusiasts and ornithologists to photographers and families.  

A packed programme of daytime and evening events and attractions offers nature lovers an exciting opportunity to answer the call of the wild and discover the fascinations of this unique environment – from rugged mountain peaks to windswept moors and miles of unspoiled shores.
For bird lovers, there's a range of guided walks to enjoy - with the moors and shoreline being great places to spot a wide range of species from the willow warblers and wheaters to the skuas and shags – alongside the exciting possibility of seeing Britain’s biggest bird of prey, the rare white tailed sea eagle.  With its impressive eight foot wing span, this beautiful bird has been the subject of successful reintroduction in this area and the week’s Sea Eagle Safari will offer ornithologists one of the best opportunities to see it with their own eyes.

Other attractions for fans of our feathered friends include the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, where visitors will be able to view exclusive footage of Loch Maree’s black throated divers streamed from remote cameras recently placed by Scottish Natural Heritage – an initiative centre manager Kenny Wilson said he hopes will bring people exploring the area “closer to nature”.

Water lovers can choose to kayak on the local lochs, try their hand at sweep netting for sea trout, hauling creels out at sea with a local skpper or take the specially organised Torridon sea tour around the Isle of Rona, while landlubbers can join wildflower and woodland workshops, learn more about the area’s moths and minibeasts, or behold the beauty of bats and butterflies.

Photo - Ken Keith
Photographers are invited to join John MacPherson, creator of acclaimed environmental images, for an al fresco shoot with instruction, or take part in guided deer stalking where the only shots taken will be through a lens.  And those with a passion for the past can take part in an archaeological dig to uncover more about the area’s Highland history and rich Celtic culture. 

Visitors to the festival can also take advantage of all the attractions usually offered in the area, including whale and marine wildlife cruises, glass bottomed boat tours from Gairloch and the exotic plant-filled Inverewe Garden at Poolewe.

Full details of the festival programme can be found at www.wildaboutgairloch.co.uk, along with booking details for events and advice on accommodation.

Actor Hugh Dennis opens a new attraction at Sutton Bank

Hugh Dennis - photo copyright Gazette Herald

Writer and comedy performer Hugh Dennis recently officially opened the new visitor attraction at Sutton Bank National Park Centre in the North Yorks National Park.

Using a combination of innovative computer graphics, touchscreen technology and children’s interactives, the new attraction reveals the story behind the creation of the dramatic landscape at Sutton Bank and how it has shaped people’s lives through the ages. Entry to the new attraction and the centre is free.

Although the high inland cliff of Sutton Bank was created during the last ice age some 20,000 years ago, its layers of rock tell the story of more than 60 million years of the earth’s history. Part of the new attraction is a computer generated film, narrated by earth historian Professor Aubrey Manning, which in five minutes takes people through this amazing geology story from its beginnings under tropical oceans through to the present day.

Using touchscreens people can access more information about the area’s geology but also watch short films and read tales of those who’ve lived, worked and been inspired by the area. These range from Bronze Age settlers who used the hillforts of Boltby and Roulston Scar to rest and trade their animals to more modern day tales of gliders and the Sutton Bank ‘road man’ who helped motorists get up the steep hill. Through various interactive play facilities, the new attraction also aims to give children a greater understanding of why the area is such an important and special place.

To help people get out and explore the Sutton Bank area, an iPhone app with four walking routes has been developed and the National Park Authority has created an easy access trail that wends its way from the National Park Centre to a new viewing platform on the escarpment edge.

Hugh Dennis recently visited Sutton Bank while filming the BBC’s ‘Great British Countryside’ series in which he went up in a glider to explain how the iconic landscape was created. He said:
“The fact that our lives are still affected by events that happened millions of years ago continues to interest and intrigue me. Sutton Bank is one of the most impressive features of Yorkshire’s landscape and has a fascinating tale to tell. This new attraction will I’m sure provide a whole new level of enjoyment and understanding for people who visit.”

More than 10,000 people visit Sutton Bank National Park Centre to go for a walk or bike ride, find out about the wider area or simply to admire the beautiful panoramic views - and the new visitor attraction shows there's much more to the area than stunning scenery.

The new attraction at Sutton Bank National Park Centre has been developed as part of the five year Lime & Ice Project which is providing new opportunities for people to explore, enjoy and learn about the south-west corner of the North York Moors National Park and the northern half of the adjoining Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The project is funded by a grant of just under £500,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Sutton Bank National Park Centre is on the A170 between Thirsk and Helmsley. It is open daily in spring and summer with reduced opening during the winter. More information on facilities at the centre, opening times and contact details can be found at www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/suttonbank

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Some of our old "mini-Podcasts"

Way back in the mists of time - well, before March 2012 - we made a few mini Podcasts lasting around 5 minutes.  Now, these have largely been forgotten with launch of our bigger and better monthly walking and outdoor podcast - but we though some of our newer followers might not have heard them.

So here's a few of them for you to peruse...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Our new walking video - Boscastle and the Valency Valley in Cornwall

Our latest walking video is online now - a walk from Boscastle along the Valency Valley.  Shortly, we'll be adding this video, along with the walking route, to the Boscastle page on our website - so we'll keep you informed.

If you're wanting to go to Boscastle to do this walk, we stayed at the Valency Bed & Breakfast - and you can find out more information, visit http://www.valencybandb.com/

Friday, 1 June 2012

Podcast Edition 005 - Show Notes

Edition 5 of the Walks Around Britain podcast features the team of Sixth Formers attempt to bag some Munros and we find out about a new map about the Munros - and it's older Lake District cousin.  Richard Vobes - the Bald Explorer - takes us along the Dorset Coastal Path and weatherman Fred Talbot tells us about his walking treks and lyrca.

LVS Ascot Great Wilderness Munro Challenge

Six intrepid Sixth Formers from the LVS Ascot School in Berkshire - Kieren Exley, Jamie Goldsmith, Idris Adedeji, Charlie Morgan, Jack Bingham and Ben Pearson - should be very proud of their recent adventure, as they along with three mad teachers returned safely after taking on the several Munros in North West Scotland.

Teacher Nick Funnell tells us about the challenge on the podcast.

If you'd like to donate to the challenge, visit the Just Giving website here.  At present, 31st May 2012, the total raised was a massive £2,722.50.

Tubular Fells and MunrOverground

Tubular Fells was the first map of its kind, blending the iconic work of Alfred Wainwright and Harry Beck - the designer of the London Tube map.  Using the same formula, the second map MunrOverground has been created to map the Scottish Munros in the same topological way, but this time looking more like an overground rail network.

Peter Burgess - the creator of the maps - talks to us on the podcast about the way they came about.

To find out about them both - and to buy them - visit the website here.

Richard Vobes

Richard Vobes - the Bald Explorer - sent us a short clip about his walk along the Dorset Coastal Path.

You can follow his adventures on the Bald Explorer on his website.

Fred Talbot

Fred is probably best known for his appearances on the “This Morning” weather map and between 1988 and 2001 he delivered the weather live from the Albert dock in Liverpool over two thousand times.  All of those were memorable but the one that sticks in everyone’s mind was when the streaker climbed from the waters of the dock onto the weather map live on the morning show.

Fred is an avid walker, and presented a series Wainwright Country, along with Eric Robson.

The series is available to buy on DVD from Amazon here.

The Bridgewater Canal Fred talks about forms part of the Cheshire Ring, with the Ashton & Peak Forest Canals, Macclesfield Canal and Trent & Mersey Canal.  Find out more about it on the Canal Junction website.

Fred is on Twitter where you can follow his weather tweets especially for the North West of England and the Isle of Man.

So, that's the fifth edition over then! Please get in touch with us if you've any comments or suggestions.  E-mail them, tweet or facebook them. Or use the "Send us a Voice Message" tab on the right of the blog to let us know your thoughts via audio.