TV Presented Kate Humble and Forestry England are encouraging people to put one foot in front of another and soak up the nation’s forests during mental health awareness week (13th – 19th May).
Kate Humble says: ‘Walking for me is a form of meditation, and the simple act of putting one foot in front of another has extraordinary benefits to my mental well-being. It helps me feel relaxed, less anxious and more creative.
‘Walks enjoyed in the nation’s forests can be particularly special. I love to follow trails through the trees where with every step you can enjoy the sounds, sights and smells of nature. Never knowing what wildlife is going to appear on my pathway makes me excited! There is something so simple about walking but the benefits are huge.’
Escape the stresses of everyday life and soak up the spring sunshine on one of Forestry England’s carefully selected top 10 walks for your well-being.
1. Alice Holt Forest – Lodge Pond trail (2.5 miles)
Starting from the hustle and bustle of the play areas this scenic walk leads you into the heart of the woodlands to enjoy peaceful broad-leaf woods and mature pine forests. Take a moment to relax by the tranquil Lodge Pond, believed to have been created by medieval monks to breed carp where you might be lucky enough to see the dragon and damsel flies put on an aerial display.
2. Blackwater, New Forest – Walk the Tall Trees trail (1.5 miles)
Walking the circular ‘Tall Trees Trail’ will take you through an impressive section of the drive among towering Douglas fir and mighty redwoods giving you plenty of opportunities to slow down and look up. The path is a flat and fairly smooth gravelled surface with frequent resting places to enjoy the forest atmosphere.
3. Cannock Chase Forest – The Fairoak trail (2.5 miles)
An easy circular trail, the walk meanders through the forest and opens out into the Fairoak Valley. Here you’ll find the magnificent Fairoak Pools, a rich and important habitat that many wildlife species call home. Stop here and look out for grebes and kingfishers whilst clearing your mind.
4. Dalby Forest – The Adderstone Rigg trail (1.5 miles)
Head into Dalby Forest and explore the naturally sculpted Adder stone with your senses on this gentle walk. The trail follows forest paths and roads through a variety of woodland allowing you the opportunity to ease your stress. You will be met with stunning views over the forest.
5. High Lodge, Thetford Forest – The Fir trail (3 miles)
This trail is perfect for those wanting to get away from it all and enjoy the peace and quiet of the forest. Far away from the visitor centre this trail takes you into the heart of the forest, allowing you to soak in the atmosphere with all your senses.
6. Jeskyns Forest – The Broomfield loop (1.5 miles)
A gentle, undulating walk on surfaced paths that leads you through new woodlands, grazed meadows, orchards and ponds. A trail to restore your mood and give you back your energy.
7. Moors Valley Country Park – The Lookout (1.5 miles)
This lovely meandering route takes you away from the visitor centre into the peace and quiet of the forest. The trail takes you to a secluded spot where you can pause a while and let your stresses drift away, the Lookout. Once here you’ll be rewarded with stunning views across the valley.
8. Symonds Yat – Mailscot Wood trail (4 miles)
With spectacular views across the River Wye and the forest beyond, Symonds Yat is a fabulous place to unwind. Take the Mailscot Wood trail through a wonderful mosaic of trees, this challenging and hilly walk offers a sanctuary of calm whilst absorbing panoramic views of the River Wye.
9. Wyre Forest – The Buzzard trail (3.25 miles)
The Buzzard trail explores the depths of the forest through beautiful mixed woodlands allowing your mind, body and soul to relax and unwind. The trail takes you along forest tracks and narrow paths, past majestic old oaks, as well as the Wyre Arboretum providing lots of opportunities to slow down and rejuvenate.
10. Haldon Forest – The Butterfly trail (4 miles)
The Butterfly trail leads you on a circular trail to the peaceful depths of the forest. Discover rare butterflies like the Pearl-bordered fritillary whilst bathing in the forest atmosphere. Meander slowly along the trail and take in the stunning views across the forest and over the Teign valley.
The nation’s forests are so much more than just rural landscapes. With over 1,500 forests across the country, there are limitless ways for you to find your connection and enhance your well-being. To find out more what your forest can do for you, click here.
Image credit: Forestry England