One of the positives of lockdown has been the increasing number of people either reconnecting with nature or discovering the joy of the great outdoors for the first time. Whilst the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in forests and woodlands are well documented, they are now more appreciated than ever. We want people to enjoy the Forest and their local green spaces safely this summer.
Take nothing but photographs and leave only footprints
We are delighted that more people have been visiting the Forest over the past few months and expect this to continue throughout the summer. Increasing numbers of visitors brings both opportunities and some challenges.
To ensure we all have a great time outdoors it is important to be familiar with The Countryside Code, which was updated in June 2020 to take into account the impacts of coronavirus. Following the Countryside Code ensures we respect other people, protect the natural environment and enjoy the outdoors.
This applies equally to all outdoor spaces, but there are aspects to highlight when visiting the Forest.
Plan your visit
Find out as much as you can in advance about where you would like to go – how to get there, opening times and what facilities there are, and then plan accordingly.
When visiting the Forest it is important to only park in the car parks provided and not on the roadside and verges, vacating the car parks before the lock-up time displayed. Please be prepared to change your plans and move on to an alternative Forest car park if the one at your intended destination is full.
Keeping gateways clear is important to protect our roadside biodiversity, and to ensure our gates are always accessible for us to access with agricultural and forestry vehicles and livestock which are working 24/7.
Stay on the footpaths
In addition to permissive waymarked routes through the Forest, there are public footpaths which connect to the Forest trails. It is always important to stay on footpaths to respect our neighbours and protect the natural habitats. Remember not all areas of the Forest are open to public access, so please use Forest and OS maps to confirm your route through the Forest and beyond, remaining on permissive or public rights of way. Explore our woodland walks.
Leave gates as you find them
When walking anywhere in the countryside you should expect livestock and the Forest is no different. You may encounter livestock in the Forest and on neighbouring land which may be moved between fields regularly. Leave gates as you find them with roadside and livestock gates kept closed at all times.
Keep dogs under control
Dogs are welcome in the Forest and they have a great time exploring the woodlands. They should always be kept under effective control, in sight and on a lead when near livestock. Please pick up after them – bag it, bin it or take it away!
Take your litter home
An unwelcome side effect of the lockdown and more people getting outdoors is an increase in the amount of litter being left in the countryside. Please take your litter home with you or use one of the bins provided.
Be fire aware
The long spells of dry weather we have experienced this spring and summer have left our forests and woodlands at an increased risk of forest fires. Please do not light fires or BBQs or discard cigarettes in the Forest. If you see a fire, please call 999 immediately.
Visiting the Forest
The Forest stretches along the Warwickshire / Worcestershire border, taking in Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden and the ancient Forest of Feckenham, from south Birmingham to the north Cotswolds. It’s a beautiful and very special part of the world, rich in history and legends, rolling green countryside, rivers, and busy market towns. Plan your visit to the Forest.