Whether you’re looking for a secluded escape or an adrenaline-fuelled adventure, reconnect with Mother Nature at one of the UK’s most enchanting forests.
If there’s one thing the UK has no shortage of, it’s unspoilt woodland. Our forests are brimming with beauty and wildlife, making them perfect for nature watching, walking and mountain biking – or for just finding some peace and quiet.
With so much of our country carpeted in thick woodland, you’ll be spoilt for choice on where to go. To get your imagination ticking, here are just three of the UK’s most impressive forests – and what to do while you’re there.
The New Forest, Hampshire
With historical roots reaching as far back as 1079, the New Forest is far from new. Once a royal hunting preserve, it’s now one of the UK’s most visited national parks, spanning 140 miles of woodland, heathland and river valleys.
Spend a long weekend in a thatched cottage, gaze up at giant sequoias, cycle through quaint villages, and meet the native ponies. Families flock to the ‘Peppa Pig’ themed Paultons Park, while Longdown Activity Farm and the New Forest Wildlife Park are a popular spot for animal lovers.
The New Forest is also conveniently close to the UK’s glorious south coast. Watch the boats come and go from the harbour town of Lymington, or walk along the beach to Hurst Castle from Milford-on-Sea.
The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
Step inside JRR Tolkien and JK Rowling’s magical worlds with a trip to Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean. Its mysterious depths supposedly inspired Middle Earth, and key scenes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were also filmed here.
Dean’s history stretches back to medieval times, when it was used as a royal hunting forest. Today, a landscape of woodlands, rivers, hills and valleys make it an adventurer’s playground. Recharge your batteries from a remote forest cabin before taking a high ropes course in the treetops or exploring the underground mine workings of Clearwell Caves.
The area is also home to one of the best rivers in the country for canoeing and kayaking – the River Wye. Paddle down the river solo or join a relaxing boat cruise, learning about the landscape as you go.
Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
It’s hard to ignore Robin Hood when you’re in Sherwood Forest, with countless pubs, lodges and even a festival named after him. But the forest is much more than an ancient stomping ground for its most famous hero. Many visit to see the gigantic oak trees, namely The Major Oak, which is believed to be 1,100 years old and the biggest in Britain! Explore the hundreds of acres of ancient woodland here on foot or by bike, ticking off the Robin Hood statues along the way. Its history as a royal hunting forest means it’s also dotted with grand ducal estates, many of which are open to the public.
You could even time your visit around the annual Robin Hood festival, held in the forest every summer. Storytelling, sword fighting, dancing, and food, drink and craft stalls come together to create a fun atmosphere for all ages.