National Forest Way long distance trail opens in May 2014

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Launched as part of the 2014 National Forest Walking Festival, the National Forest Way is a new 75-mile trail through the evolving Midlands landscape. The route, along public and permissive paths, crosses the length and breadth of The National Forest from the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to Beacon Hill Country Park in Leicestershire.

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.

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

Richard Drakeley, Tourism Development & Promotions Officer at the National Forest Company, sys: "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 eight 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!"

About the National Forest
The National Forest area covers 200 square miles in 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 19.5 per cent and in 2012 HRH the Duke of Cambridge planted the eight millionth tree in the Forest.

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