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Etiquette and Safety in the New Forest

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Tourist Information Centres run by New Forest District Council hold a vacancy list

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02380 282269

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01425 654560

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01590 672422

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01425 470896

New Forest Safety Code and Etiquette

The New Forest is one of the most important areas of natural beauty in Western Europe. It is there because of a code stretching back hundreds of years. Essentially, the animals were there first and have priority over all other life occupying the area both in the forest and on the roads. The area where you are likely to see animals on the road and in a situation where there is no fence between them and the public is bounded by cattle grids. Once you are inside this area it is quite possible that an animal will walk in front of a travelling car without looking left or right. The animal has right of way, so if you hit it you are liable to the owner for not only the cost of the animal but also its removal. Yes, all the ponies, cattle, sheep and pigs are owned - by commoners. These are individuals who have special rights associated with their properties in the New Forest.

  • Always stop if an animal walks out in front of your car - it could be expensive.
  • Do not leave litter around for other people to pick up.
  • A pony may not survive eating a polythene bag as it will get stuck in its gut and cause a blockage.
  • However fast your car is, remember that the speed limit in the New Forest is 40mph on the open forest and 30mph in the villages
  • Also, remember that a cow will weigh nearly as much as your car. If you hit one, your prized GT model will probably be written off - along with the cow.
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    There are many rare wild birds and fauna native to the New Forest. These have to bear the intrusion of 4 million tourists each year. Do not pick any flowers or mushrooms or touch any of the many native species of wildlife, they need to be left alone. Please consider this if you are walking your dog as they tend to disturb ground nesting birds, so try and keep your dog and yourself on the main footpaths.

  • Do not pick any mushrooms or wild flowers
  • Mind the snakes and other reptiles which frequent most parts.
  • Wear sensible shoes when walking on the Forest for your own safety.
  • If you stop for a picnic, use a groundsheet and take all your rubbish with you when you leave.
  • Never feed the ponies, no matter how insistant they are. They can get aggressive if you run out of food.
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    Everyone can enjoy the New Forest as long as a few simple rules are followed and it is basically to think of others always. Leave the Forest as you find it with the minimum amount of damage. Remember, if you dislodge as little as one shovel full of gravel when you go walking/cycling/riding, this is multiplied by 4 million if everyone else is as careful as you, every year !

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