New cycle trails and the Go-Ape high wire course have helped boost visitor numbers to Dalby Forest, according to new figures from the Forestry Commission.
The 3,440 hectare (8,600 acre) beauty spot, near Pickering, North Yorkshire, has notched a 15% growth in visitors over the past year, with admissions passing the 400,000 mark for the first time in the wood’s history.
Forest chiefs reckon a massive £4.2m investment to create an eco-friendly visitor centre, 55 kilometres of new cycle routes and attract Go-Ape to Dalby are major reasons behind the huge increase.
Now the wood’s soaring popularity has prompted the Forestry Commission to launch a UK first visitor scheme in North Yorkshire.
A new Discovery Pass has been unveiled, guaranteeing all year-round free parking in the forest for a flat fee of £42, along with juicy discounts on cycle hire, Christmas trees, Go-Ape and forest café. All the proceeds from the scheme will be re-invested back in the woodland. Dalby’s normal entry fee is £7 for cars.
Tanya Rex, Dalby Forest Visitor Centre manager, said:
“The profile of the forest has been transformed in the past decade and that’s reflected in the growth in visitors, which is great news for the whole area. The Discovery Pass is a new venture for the Forestry Commission, which has been around for 90 years It will open the door to more trippers, whilst offering those already using the woodland an even better deal.”
Dalby Forest was planted by the Forestry Commission in 1923 on land once occupied by the Royal Forest of Pickering – a royal hunting ground from which ordinary people were excluded on pain of death.
These days about 35% of visitors are cyclists, but Dalby remains a prime spot for walkers, so more routes will be unveiled next year, one taking ramblers through the remains of old warrens once used to farm rabbits for their meat and pelts.
Backing the new visitor pass, botanist David Bellamy said:
“Dalby is a fabulous forest. The Discovery Pass is a passport to enjoy a relaxing stroll, take a whiz along mountain bike routes, or simply contemplate Mother Nature’s beauty and encounter wonderful wildlife. We’re lucky to have such a fantastic public woodland on our doorstep to explore."
Discovery Pass holders will also get a colourful seasonal e-newsletter giving the low-down on up and coming events and tips on exploring the every changing forest. Passes can be purchased from Dalby Forest Visitor Centre or by logging onto the website at www.forestry.gov.uk/pass