The festive season is upon us and it’s a time for indulgence but also a great time of the year for getting outside and taking in the beauty of nature.
In winter, woods take on a whole new character – spectacular, frosty landscapes. Perfect for enjoying nature’s sights and sounds while burning off some of those extra calories!
Crunch through frosty leaves, discover ancient hidden history or spot some elusive wildlife – a woodland walk could spring up surprises you’ll never forget. Of course a visit is free and you’ll feel great after too. More here: woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods
Here are 11 great woods across the country to visit:
1) Glen Finglas, near Stirling, Scotland
Set in Stirling – Scotland, Glen Finglas is home to breath-taking views, iconic Scottish wildlife and historic interest. Spanning an impressive 4095 hectares, Glen Finglas is certainly one to add to the bucket list.
The woodland is suitable for both the serious walker as well as well as the less seasoned adventurer, as several paths circle the estate, each offering their own varying route of discovery through ancient oak woodlands and vast open lands.
Take the opportunity to marvel at weird and wonderful fungi – you may also be lucky enough to spot some red squirrels, otters, ospreys, deer, golden eagles and black grouse.
2) Skipton Castle Woods, North Yorkshire
Tucked away in the market town of Skipton, just to the south edge of the Yorkshire Dales, Skipton Castle Woods will make you feel as though you are stepping back in time. As you enter the woods, the hustle and bustle of the High Street is left behind, leaving you to you explore the abundance of wildlife.
3)Coed Felenrhyd & Llennyrch, Wales
This stunning area of Welsh woodland will set you up for a real journey back in time, as it is thought that the steep banks of the Afon Prysor gorge have been wooded for thousands of years – possibly since trees first re-colonised Wales after the last Ice Age.
The beautiful scenery is the perfect place to immerse for the day and take in all that the remote and historic site has to offer. Explore its atmospheric pools and the dramatic views of Snowdon as well and the rugged uplands of the Rhinog Mountains.
4)Drumnaph Wood, Northern Ireland
Drumnaph occupies a ridge above the meandering Grillagh River, which allows you to enjoy the views west to Carntogher Mountain and the beautiful Sperrin Hills.
With over 30,000 trees planted in recent years, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was relatively young woodland, but actually, around 50% of the site is ancient woodland, making it a rare remnant of the great forest that once covered much of mid-Ulster.
Winter provides a good chance to spot Irish hare as they are often seen around the edges of the woodland and in the surrounding fields in the colder months of the year.
5) Fingle Wood, Devon
Fingle Wood, which lies in the northern fringes of Dartmoor in Devon where Castle Drogo and Steps Bridge border the site. Extensive work is being done here to replace the swathes of conifer to help the site return to a natural broadleaf woodland.
Fingle is a fine example of a past ancient woodland haven. In recent years, over 45km of new footpaths have been laid to help visitors of all ages, discover every corner of this incredible place.
Explore the frosty glades, spot wildlife and uncover intricate woodland archaeology.
6) Brede High Woods: Cripps Corner, East Sussex
At 648 acres Brede High Woods is one of the biggest Woodland Trust sites in England and lies within the High Weald AONB in East Sussex, approximately six miles north of Hastings.
Varied colour and the chance to see some of the country’s most important species including great crested newt, brook lamprey, dormouse, badgers and fallow deer, make Brede High a wonderful place to enjoy seasonal scenes. Brede High Woods is a nature-lovers paradise, with an outstanding reputation for wildlife. There are walks of 5 and 7.5 miles
7) Avon Valley Woods, near Kingsbridge, Devon
A diverse mix of steep, valley-sided ancient woodland and areas of new woodland planted between 2000 and 2004, Avon Valley Woods is very special site – the older woodlands that make up the site were the Woodland Trust’s first acquisitions. Covering over 139 hectares in total, Avon Valley Woods is brimming with wildlife and a wide variety of tree species.
8) Low Burnhall, County Durham
Low Burnhall is a patchwork of habitats. Gnarled, veteran, sweet chestnut trees in a block of ancient woodland contrast with areas of recent planting.
This captivating woodland is a tranquil haven for people and wildlife, within easy reach of Durham city, and plays an important part in local history. Low Burnhall and the surrounding areas are teeming with wildlife. Look out for signs of the otters which have been recorded in the River Wear that runs alongside the wood. Bird species to keep an eye (and ear) out for include kestrels, sparrowhawks and meadow pipits, as well as the more elusive tawny, barn and little owls.
9) Smithills, near Bolton, Greater Manchester
Smithills Estate is the largest site the Woodland Trust has ever acquired in England, steeped in history and shadowed by the famous Winter Hill TV mast. The site is a mix of grassland, farmland, moorland, wooded cloughs (ravines) and bog habitats, crisscrossed by dry stone walls, with panoramic views over Bolton to Manchester.
Many aspects of Smithills Estate are being restored and revitalised, making this a wonderful place to visit as its transformation comes underway. Smithills Estate has areas of valuable habitat, particularly moorland – which is part of the West Pennine Moors SSSI – along with woodland and important grassland.
10) Hucking Estate, Kent
This large mix of ancient woodland, planted secondary woodland and open grassland, is home to woodland archaeology, wonderful walks, interesting wildlife and breathtaking views – all set in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Estate runs to the escarpment of the North Downs along the southern boundary, which on a clear day affords fantastic views across the Weald of Kent. Hucking Estate supports 10 threatened bird species. Bats such as Daubenton’s, brown long-eared and Natterer’s inhabit the ancient semi-natural woodland using two old disused chalk pits to roost.
11) Tring Park, Hertfordshire
Walk among mixed broadleaf woodland and explore one of the largest areas of unimproved chalk grassland in the county, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. This tranquil site is just a 10-minute walk from the Natural History Museum at Tring and has open vistas with great views. Look and listen for the many fantastic animal species found at Tring Park. Impressive red kites and long-eared owls swoop over meadows looking for voles, and there’s an unexpected resident too – edible dormice! Walter Rothschild brought the first six to England in 1902 and for some reason set them loose in Tring Park where they spread and bred. There’re walks of 3.5 or 8 miles