National Forest Way FAQs

What is the National Forest Way?

The National Forest Way is a new 75 mile walking trail through the National Forest. It takes walkers on a journey through a transforming landscape. Across 75 miles of footpaths from the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, through Derbyshire to Beacon Hill Country Park in Leicestershire, you will discover the story of the National Forest. The Way is divided into 12 stages ranging in length from 4 to 7.5 miles and each stage is designed to showcase a different aspect of the National Forest.

Is it suitable for all walkers?

It is suitable for experienced and new walkers alike. The National Forest Way reveals the history of this changing landscape, and will be accompanied by leaflets, online information and clear signage.

How long is it? 

The National Forest Way is 75 miles long and is divided into 12 stages ranging in length from 4 to 7.5 miles.

How long does it take to walk the whole way? 

That depends on how fast you walk. For an experienced walker averaging 3 miles an hour, and a walking day of 6 hours, it would take around 4 days to complete the 75 mile route.

For an average walker, taking their time, the shortest stage (4 miles) might take a couple of hours and the longest (7.5 miles) would be a nice day’s walk.

Many people will enjoy more of a stroll with plenty of stops to take in places of interest and refreshments and may complete the National Forest Way in separate sections over a series of visits.

The National Forest Way is designed for you to enjoy in your own way, and at your own pace.

Where can I start my walk? 

If you intend to walk the length of the National Forest Way you have a choice of two starting points. Travelling west to east you start at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas in Staffordshire. Travelling east to west you start at Beacon Hill Country Park near Woodhouse Eaves in Leicestershire. For a shorter walk you can also start at any point along the Way. There are 12 stages, which provide easy access, car parking and other public amenities.

What will I see? 

You will see 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 framed by woodland. The National Forest Way leads through young and ancient woodlands, market towns and the industrial heritage of this changing landscape at the heart of the Midlands.

Depending on the time of year, you will see woodland flowers, wildlife and the changing shapes of the trees in full leaf or the skeletal beauty of winter.

Where can I get maps of the way? 

There are maps and leaflets for every section of the National Forest Way, available to download here. The 75 mile trail is waymarked and at the meeting points of each of the 12 stages there are orientation panels. The waymarker discs are colour coded for ease of use: orange if you are travelling east, purple if you are travelling west.

There is an Ordnance Survey map of the National Forest, number 245. This shows the National Forest Way and is useful for exploring the Forest.

Why are the waymarkers different colours?

Orange border waymakers signify you are travelling west to east.

Purple border waymarkers signify you are travelling east to west.

What do the different coloured arrows on the waymarkers signify?

A yellow arrow signifies you are on a public footpath, which is for walking only.

A blue arrow signifies you are on a bridleway, in addition to walking you can also ride or lead a horse and ride bicycles. Horse drawn carriages are not allowed. Cyclists must give way to pedestrians and horse-riders.

A red arrow signifies you are on a byway, open to all traffic.

Can I bring my dog?

Responsible dog walkers are very welcome in the National Forest. We simply ask that you follow common sense and good manners by keeping your dog under control at all times, whether on the lead or not.

For example the Countryside Code recommends you keep your dog on a lead, or keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it is doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command.

You must ensure it does not stray off the path or from the area where you have a right of access.

As a general rule, keep your dog on a lead if you cannot rely on its obedience. On a bridleway or byway this could be especially important as you may meet horses and could be liable for damages if your dog causes an accident.

You must keep your dog on a lead at all times near livestock and wildlife. Your dog must not be allowed to chase or scare other animals, birds or humans.

Please pick up after your dog – dog mess is not only unpleasant to step in, it can also cause illness and disease. Please place bagged mess in a bin or take it home.

Are there places to stay close to the National Forest Way?

Yes, there is a range of accommodation easily accessible from cosy village pubs, friendly guesthouses and comfortable hotels. Or you may prefer the camaraderie of a campsite or even a pampering health spa. You can also stay in log cabins, a Youth Hostel or in a luxurious hotel.

More information on accommodation can be found at

Can you get to the National Forest Way by public transport?

The start and end of the trail and most stage start/end points have public transport links. Further local travel information is available from Traveline Tel: 0871 200 22 33.

Are all paths on the Way Public Rights of Way?

While most of the paths used on the National Forest Way are Public Rights of Way, some stretches are on permissive paths. Public Rights of Way are usually marked on Ordnance Survey maps, but for the most up to date information you should contact the relevant County Council to view the Definitive Map of Public Rights of Way.

More information about Rights of Way can also be found at The Institute of Public Rights of Way (IPROW) website – under the section Questions about Rights of Way.

What is a "permissive path"?

A permissive path, sometimes termed a concessionary path, is a route which the landowner permits the public to use, with the intention that it should not become a public right of way.

Permitted paths should be seen as a supplement to the rights of way network, not as a substitute for rights of way, particularly if the definitive route is obstructed.

The landowner may wish to close the path at certain times of the year and remains responsible for the maintenance of the path, including its surface.

Can I ride a bicycle or a horse on the National Forest Way?

Bicycles and horses can only be taken on bridleways and byways. They are not permitted on footpaths. The National Forest Way has been designed primarily as a walking trail and comprises primarily footpaths, with some bridleways and byways. Please ensure that you have checked the status of any path before taking a bike or horse on it.

Is the National Forest Way suitable for wheelchair use?

Short sections of the Way may be suitable for wheelchair users but we would advise those interested to contact our Rights of Way colleagues in the relevant county council. RADAR kissing gates have been installed in some sites (for example, Burroughs Wood and Martinshaw Wood in Leicestershire) and there may be other stretches that are barrier-free.

Who should I contact to report any problems I find when I'm out on the National Forest Way?

To report any problems, please use our contact form. We will then collate all the reports and address them. This may involve passing your information on to the relevant county councils, who are responsible for the maintenance of the Rights of Way network.