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England's newest long distance walking trail launches this weekend

Wednesday, 14th May 2014

Pear Tree Wood Bluebells

The country’s newest long distance walking trail will be launched this weekend, on the first day of the National Forest Walking Festival. The 75-mile National Forest Way will be launched on Saturday 17 May, at Conkers Waterside on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border.

The trail uses existing public and permissive footpaths to explore the length and breadth of the Forest, through parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire, linking the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and Beacon Hill Country Park in Leicestershire.

Volunteers have been out testing and waymarking the route. “Walking the National Forest Way, you are constantly surprised by the variety of what you see. All England is here: coal and granite, heathland and hills, meadow and water – all framed by woodland.”

Sophie Churchill, Chief Executive of the National Forest Company, added: “This is a very special moment in the development of The National Forest.  The new National Forest Way is an expression of how far we have come over the last twenty years and the early days of the Forest. Creating habitats for wildlife, working with communities and our local landowners, building businesses that have grown out of the Forest – all this work is part of what we have achieved in the Forest so far.”

She continued: “The National Forest Way will take walkers through our new wooded landscapes, through ancient forest, the former industrial heritage, farmland, villages, rivers and reservoirs  - all framed by woodland.”

The launch event features walkers out on four different routes that will all return along stretches of the National Forest Way, and a celebratory tea party for volunteer ramblers and individuals who have helped route testing and waymarking.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, will speak at the launch event, along withJames Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland, and representatives of the three county councils who have supported the National Forest Company in planning and delivering the new trail. They will welcome the new trail and the impact it will have on the economy of the area, and the benefits for health and fitness it will offer walkers and those interested in exploring the countryside and aspects of England’s heritage.

The event takes place just a month before the National Forest Company and its partners launch the strategy for the next decade for The National Forest, following extensive consultation which has revealed continuing enthusiasm for the forest and all it brings to the area.

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.