As Summer is quickly approaching and people begin to search high and low for a holiday, I thought I would write a post about safety in the New Forest. As I come from the area it is incredibly important to me that people visiting this beautiful area look after it.
As it stands with most things, it is the minority that often ruin things for the majority, and we love welcoming tourists to the area. However, there are some things that people genuinely don’t know.
Firstly and most importantly, comes your safety! The New Forest is a wonderful place to visit because of it’s mixture of landscapes. You could find yourself in the middle of forests and heath-lands or by the seaside. If you and your family find yourself in any danger, the telephone number you need is 999. This number helps you contact the obvious police, ambulance and fire services, but also coastguard, cliff rescue and mountain rescue. Please keep your safety in mind so you can explore this beautiful area and enjoy your time here!
Obviously, people visit the New Forest for a peaceful break away from the stresses of everyday. But that doesn’t mean you should take your eyes off the road. We are famous for our New Forest ponies and you can clearly see why. They are gorgeous and we are so privileged to share our home with them. However, they do need to be treated with respect.
They are wild animals at the end of the day. Although it is tempting to go up close to them and stroke them or feed them. Please don’t do this. They can look after themselves and can bite if they feel threatened. Now everybody wants to take pictures of the horses, like I have done in this post, but please approach them slowly. Read their body language, if they seem alert or on edge, please slowly back away from them. A majority of the time these are calm and pleasant animals, but at different points they can react quickly, especially if they are looking after new born foals. Please read the situation carefully.
Similarly, as the animals (horses, cows, pigs, donkeys…) are not behind fences they can get onto the roads. As they are often born in the area they don’t react to cars and tend to ignore their presence altogether. But you do need to stick to the speed limits. In the New Forest the speed limits are there to look after and care for the animals as well as yourself. Please drive at the speed limit, or if you can even slower when you see a horse on or near the verges of the road. This way it lessens your chance of spooking them and you can drive past safely. Sadly, the number of cases of horse hit and runs are increasing and animal deaths on New Forest roads are getting more common too. It shouldn’t be this way, as it there home just as much as it ours.
Furthermore, please don’t stop and feed the animals out of car windows when driving. It isn’t like a zoo, where you can drive round and get given food to feed them with. It is entirely different. By stopping and feeding the animals (especially horses) they begin to learn that if they stay on or near the road, they will get fed. This leads to more accidents as more horses tend to crowd around the roads.
If you see a distressed, injured or unhappy animal please call this number 023 8028 3141 to get hold of the Forestry Commission.
Some common advice is please stick to designated pathways. They are designed to help keep you safe and not get lost or stuck in parts of the forest.
If you have picnics (which I thoroughly recommend!) please take your rubbish away with you. Keep the area clean for new visitors but also think of the damage it could do to wildlife.
If you are exploring areas of dense woods and grasses, please think about wearing a long top and trousers that cover your whole legs. This is to prevent a tick landing on you. As there are lots of deer in the New Forest ticks can be common.
We want you to have a wonderful time when visiting us in the New Forest, so please keep these rules in mind. If you are staying in a campsite then also consider the rules that they have too.
This post is obviously a bit heavy going, but I wanted to write something about it as it is vital to your safety as well as everyone else. I can’t recommend the area enough, in the summer we are so equipped for tourists it would be foolish for you not to pay us a visit. Even if it is for a day, to escape the stresses and strain of everyday life do come and see what we have to offer.
I will do a post next week about my favourite places to visit in the area to try and lighten the mood!
Thank you for reading and hope to see you in this part of the world soon.