15 Forests & Woods to Visit in the UK

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Woodland day trips for the whole family 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. If you go down to the wood today, you’re likely to find stories to tell, stunning trees, and winding paths to explore and enjoy. The British forests and woodland are a real thing of beauty, and they’re just waiting for your family adventures. So if you’re looking for a family day out this year, why not check out some of these?

Grizedale, Cumbria

© Copyright James Burke

In the heart of the Lake District, you’ll find one of the most beloved areas of woodland in the UK. Grizedale is a firm favourite with many families, because there is so much to do. Here you’ll find walking trails, cycle trails, GO Ape locations, horse riding, mountain bike trails, sculptures to discover and play areas for the kids, places to go star gazing plus much more.

Walking Route to try: Grizedale Tarn Circular


Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries & Galloway

© Copyright Graham Thomson

Britain’s biggest forest park, Galloway Forest is often referred to as the ‘highlands of the lowlands’. With over 300 square miles of beauty on display, there’s plenty to do and see: As well as ancient woodland, stunning scenery, fantastic walks and cycle trails, Galloway Forest is also a registered dark skies park. Due to it’s remote nature, the skies above the park are fantastic for stargazing.

Activity to try: Stargazing


Hackfall Wood, North Yorkshire

© Copyright C P Smith

Ancient woodland in the Ripon area of North Yorkshire which has recently been brought back to former glories. The wood features lovely walks, ancient temples and even a feature fountain to be discovered.

Route to try: Hackfall Woods from Masham


Brechfa Forest, Wales

© Copyright MBWales

Located near the Brecon Beacons and Cambrian Mountains, Brechfa Forest is a stunning area of ancient woodland, that offers up trails for all the activities you could hope for, including: walking, mountain biking and horse riding. Like so much of the Welsh woodland, Brechfa Forest is especially good for mountain biking, with trails for all abilities on offer.

Mountain Bike Route to try: Derwen Trail (suitable for families)


Ashdown Forest, East Sussex

© Copyright Colin Park

One of the largest areas of free access space in the South East of England. Ashdown Forest is located in the High Weald area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but is more famous for the 1000 acre wood which were the birthplace of the Winnie the Pooh stories and proves popular with fans hunting out areas from the books. Ashdown Forest is also a great area for walking and horse riding.

Route to try: Winnie the Pooh Walks


Tollymore Forest Park, Northern Ireland

© Copyright Philip McErlean

Northern Ireland’s very first state forest park, Tollymore sits at the bottom of the Mourne Mountains and near the coast. The Shimna river is a feature throughout the forest with 16 bridges of varying age crossing it throughout. There are 4 main walking routes in the forest of different lengths for you to try. Tollymore is also renowned as a fantastic picnic spot.

Route to try: Mountain & Drinns Trail


Kielder Forest, Northumberland

Wikicommons Author The Boy That Time Forgot

 

The largest man-made forest in England, Kielder Forest surrounds Kielder Village and Kielder Water reservoir making it a particularly picturesque and popular location. Bursting at the seams with activity for the whole family, the forest is ideal for walking, fishing, cycling, mountain biking, there’s even dark skies events for budding astronomers.

Route to try: Kielder Forest Mountain Bike Trails


Puzzlewood, Gloucestershire

© Copyright Martin Dawes

Puzzlewood is an area of woodland within the Forest of Dean. Arguably one of the most magical looking areas of woodland in the UK, Puzzlewood features moss covered rocks with twisting and turning tree routes aplenty. It’s said that Puzzlewood was one of J.R.R Tolkein’s inspirations when creating the forests of Middle Earth in the Hobbit books. Puzzlewood does feature a small entry charge, but there is plenty for the whole family to discover on a day trip.

Why not try: Discover areas you have seen on screen filmed at Puzzlewood


New Forest, Hampshire

© Copyright Paul Buckingham

We love the New Forest (so much so we covered it in our National Park series), and it’s because it’s such a stunning, family friendly area of the UK. There’s so much to see and do in new Forest, it’s no surprise it’s becoming a popular holiday destination for young families. One thing that makes New Forest stand out on this list, is that it’s the home to the New Forest ponies, which are (in a sense) wild, in that they’re allowed to roam free around the forest.

Why not try: 50 Things to do in New Forest National Park


Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire

© Copyright Paul Buckingham

Arguably the most famous forest in the UK? We’d say so. While it’s certainly not to the scale of some forests on this list, Sherwood Forest does come with it’s own legend in Robin Hood. While there, why not hunt out the Major Oak (pictured above) which is said to be between 800-1000 years old and the spot where Robin Hood and his Merry Men slept, it was also voted ‘Tree of the year’. Sherwood Forest was once a royal hunting reserve, and as with other forests like it has vast areas of open space as well as woodland areas.

Routes to try: 100 best walks in Sherwood Forest


Puck’s Glen, Dunoon

© Copyright David Brown

Puck’s Glen offers the enchantment that many look for in a forest walk. Part of the Argyll Forest Park and named after the mischievous sprite in William Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’, Puck’s Glenn is a home to a real magical feel. A dark atmosphere of moist undergrowth and moss covered walls make for a stunning setting, and a walk through the gorge will lead you past waterfalls and more.

Route to try: Puck’s Glen Gorge Walk


Hainault Forest, Essex

© Copyright sarah white

A beautiful area of ancient woodland, once a royal hunting forest that is easily accessed from London. The Hainault Forest country park features a lake, orienteering course and even a petting zoo, making it an ideal spot for families. This area of woodland is also part of the three forests trail that has an 8 mile section which takes in Epping Forest, Hainault Forest and Hatfield Forest all in the area.

Route to try: Three Forests Way


Fingle Woods, Devon

Wikicommons: Author - Nilfanion

A coniferous and mixed woodland on the southern side of Teign Valley, near Dartmoor National Park. Fingle Woods is part owned by the National Trust and Woodland Trust and is always undergoing restoration to improve what is there. There are miles of walking routes around the woodland to enjoy and it’s well worth a visit.

Route to try: Fingle Woods Walking Route


Glentress Forest, Tweed Valley

Wikicommons: Author - Estrnc

The most popular forest location in the Tweed Valley, a real mountain biking mecca for those looking for an adventure on two wheels. The forest features mountain biking trails of all grades and difficulties, and if you don’t have a bike of your own – you can hire them there! If mountain biking isn’t your thing, Glentress also offers some lovely walks, taking in the River Tweed and through lush woodland.

Activity to try: The many mountain bike routes of Glentress


Gwydyr Forest, Betws-y Coed

Wikicommons: Author - Hogyn Lleol

 

An area of forest located within Snowdonia National Park that encompasses the village of Betws-y Coed, Gwydir forest proves popular with walkers and cyclists alike. The forest hosts many disused mines and miners tracks, which make up cycle tracks and walking routes to enjoy. The forest is divided by rivers and features a number of lakes, meaning there’s always something to look out for on your walk.

Route to try: Four Lakes of Gwydyr Forest


 

This is obviously just a glimpse into the green world of the UK forests and woodland, if there’s one thing that they all have in common it’s that they’re begging to be explored. Whether you like walking, cycling or family days out, our woodland areas have what you are looking for.

Have we missed off your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.

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