One of the attractive features of cycling in the New Forest is the many gravel paths that criss-cross the National Park. There are around 300 miles of these gravel paths, yet out of that 300 miles only 100 miles are ‘open’ to cyclists. The result is a disjointed network for cyclists across the Forest, where the gravel paths can only really be used for a loop rather than journeys from one part of the Forest to the other. The gravel paths themselves are ideal for cyclists, providing a great way to enjoy the New Forest in a much safer non-car environment.
The current rules do seem somewhat against cyclists however.
If you’re familiar with the New Forest, you will probably have seen a sign similar to this, giving guidance to people using the area. The current rules do seem somewhat against cyclists however. Whilst horse riders can enjoy the New Forest as a whole (as long as it’s Forestry Commission land), cyclists can only make use of the designated 100 miles of gravel tracks.
If horse riders can use them, then it’s reasonable to assume that cyclists should be able to as well.
What are the reasons behind the Forestry Commission not opening up the other 200 miles of tracks to cyclists? If horse riders can use them, then it’s reasonable to assume that cyclists should be able to as well. The working Forest argument does not really cut it – as the current signing off sections works fine. Surely, opening up the other 200 miles of paths to cyclists will not only benefit the cyclists themselves, but will also be a further draw for the tourist industry that the New Forest relies on so heavily. So, come on Forestry Commission, lets see if something can be done about this!
If you really want to make a difference, make your thoughts on the subject known to the New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) as they are currently consulting on a revised Management Plan for the National Park. You can also tweet your thoughts to them here – @newforestnpa