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Olympic Medallist Ian Stark Gives Thumbs Up For Riding Facilities In The National Forest

Four times Olympic silver medallist three-day eventer Ian Stark heaps praise on riding facilities in The National Forest, as the second guide for horse riders in The National Forest is launched today.

Ian Stark designed the new cross country course at Eland Lodge Farm, one of 8 new sites to be included in the guide. "The National Forest is certainly a fantastic setting in which to ride", commented Ian. "It is easily accessible which is a huge advantage, and caters for all levels of rider - you can enjoy a fun day out or benefit from intensive schooling for horse and rider".

The guide has been produced by the National Forest Company (NFC) and pulls together detailed information about a total of 35 sites and the many excellent opportunities for safe, off-road riding to be found throughout the Forest's 200 square miles.

The 35 locations spread across parts of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire are featured with a general description of each site along with the routes available, parking information, details about other facilities and permit information. The guide also gives a description of how each site links in with the surrounding bridleway network.

There are an increasing number of sites suitable for carriage driving, an aspect of equestrianism that is gaining in popularity, plus information on accommodation for riders from further afield wanting to take full advantage of opportunities in the Forest.

Audrey Brown, NFC's Land Use Officer, has compiled the guide. She said: "We are conscious that there is a great demand for off-road riding and we are working with landowners to meet that need. The cross country course at Eland Lodge is a great example of this as it has been created as part of a National Forest Tender Scheme for woodland creation. All in all the NFC has created some 45 km of new riding routes, through this unique Tender Scheme and through working in partnership with other organisations. We are keen to put in place a network of longer routes for safe riding".

The riding guide has been supported by the East Midlands Development Agency. William Kirk, emda's Director of Partnerships, said: "We are delighted to support the second year of such a valuable guide for horse riders. Leisure access to the countryside plays a key role in creating a healthy rural economy. The guide is a good example of one of the many activities that The National Forest provides to its visitors".

Last year there was such phenomenal demand for the first guide that supplies were exhausted within 2 months. For a free copy of the guide contact the NFC on 01283 551211 or write to: NFC, Enterprise Glade, Bath Lane, Moira, Derbyshire DE12 6BD (email: Copies are also available from tourist information centres within The National Forest. Alternatively full details of opportunities for horse riding in The National Forest are available on the website

1. The National Forest area covers 200 square miles of the counties of 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 for the Forest has already more than doubled to over 13 per cent. The National Forest Company was given the job of overseeing the creation of the Forest in 1995.

2. Year by year, The National Forest has been steadily turning what was once one of the least wooded areas of England into a multi-purpose, sustainable forest. Already almost five million trees have been planted. The National Forest provides environmental and economic benefits, including landscape enhancement, creation of new wildlife habitats and major new access and leisure opportunities. It is an excellent example of sustainable development - with environmental improvement providing a stimulus to economic regeneration.

3. To achieve its objectives, the National Forest Company works in partnership with landowners, local authorities and private business and has strong support from Government, politicians and the public. The Company currently receives £3.7m a year in grant in aid from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


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