RAMBLERS, horse riders, dog walkers and families will be able to enjoy Savernake Forest's 4,500 acres free of traffic for one day only in the New Year.

The forest will be closed to all vehicles on Tuesday, January 3, the first working day of the New Year. 

Private roads have to be closed on one day a year to protect their private status.  This means that the main private road  through the forest - the only privately-owned forest in Britain - will be closed to vehicles on that day.

The Earl of Cardigan, David Brudenell-Bruce, whose family own the forest, said: "We regret this very necessary inconvenience this one day a year, but there is a plus.   

“Depending on the weather, for all the hundreds of joggers, hikers, families, photographers, and dog walkers who daily come to Savernake this is a really special day.   

“For all these people the Forest will be unusually quiet on that day with no vehicle noise, and everyone can stroll along the famous Grand Avenue without endlessly having to get to the side of the road every 60 seconds as a car comes past. 

“One Marlborough dog-walker told me it was absolutely her favourite day of the year in the forest". 

The Earl has been the hereditary warden of the forest since 1987, and the land has been in his family since 1067 when it was bestowed on them by William the Conqueror.

The main road through the forest is The Grand Avenue, at 4.3 miles dead straight the longest avenue in Britain according to the Guinness Book of Records.

It was laid out by Capability Brown in the 1780s, and it saw over 200,000 visitors a year - the last time a census was done some 15 years ago.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Savernake Forest is famous for the Big Belly Oak, a 1,000-year-old oak tree close to the A345 on the western edge of the forest. Legend has it that the devil can be summoned by anyone dancing naked round the tree.

The forest is administered by trustees. Since 1939 the timber of the forest has been managed by Forestry England on a 999-year lease.

Though it is private property, Earl Cardigan and his son Viscount Savernake, permit extensive public access.

However, visitors are asked to note that there are no vehicular rights of way, nor any public footpaths, anywhere in the forest.