There has been plenty of talk in the last year about the joys of walking in the woods, first through rows over government plans to sell off Forestry Commission land and then, following the abandonment of these plans, while the process of investigation by the government's Forestry Panel has been taking place.
But whatever the future of forestry in the UK and its implications for those who like to go walking
in the woods, there are currently some excellent opportunities to enjoy such activities and one of them comes in the National Forest Walking Festival
, held from May 19th to 31st.
This is the fifth year of the event and more than 80 walks are included, with visitors to the forest - spread across the East Midlands between Derby, Nottingham and Leicester - being able to enjoy more tree cover each year, as over eight million trees have been planted as part of the project.
And the walks are varied, meaning people of all abilities and ages can take part, so whether it is a stroll with children or a lengthy route march, the event comes with lots of variety. This year has the first night walk and inaugural photography walk as part of the mix.
Of course, the event may go a long way towards demonstrating the love Britons have for a walk in the woods. And while waterproofs
might be needed if the May weather continues to be unseasonally unpleasant, the canopy of trees and the partial cover this provides against rain might make a welcome alternative to walking in the open as it pours.
The growth of the National Forest has been evident in recent years, with the woodland cover in the area trebling from six per cent to 18 per cent. 82 per cent of this woodland is accessible - and the way it is used in the next few weeks may hammer home the message that being able to walk in the forest is a pastime that needs to be preserved, protected and enhanced.