A POPULAR app is now offering 20 walks in the New Forest.

The Viewranger app, which can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet, will offer the routes with a short description and|photographs and include details of how to get there, the length and difficulty of the trail and landmarks or points of interest along the way.

Hilary Makin, communications manager for the new Forest National Park Authority, said that with 13 million visitors a year, there is a delicate balance between protecting the fragile ecology of the park with the needs of local communities and tourists.

She said: “We have selected the walks carefully to provide a taste of the New Forest. They take in pretty, historic villages, woodland, open heaths and the coastline of salt marshes.

“The idea is also to reduce congestion on the narrow roads and encourage visitors to leave the car at home and come to the forest on the train or bus, so they can experience the forest at its best and learn how they can help keep the forest|special.”

Because the mobile signal is quite patchy across the park, downloading the maps and routes at home before setting off means the information will be stored on the phone or tablet and will not require a mobile connection.

Once in the New Forest, with the chosen route open in the ViewRanger app, the phone's in-built GPS will locate the user on the map and help them navigate the route.