The rush, crush and expense of Christmas can you feeling exhausted and with the cost-of-living crisis biting, a simpler, more environmentally friendly festive celebration is top of many people’s Christmas list this year.
With that in mind, the Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity, has come up with a guide to its best woods for a glorious and completely free winter walk for all the family to enjoy.
The Woodland Trust has more than 1,000 woods which are free to visit and open every day so you’re spoilt for choice.
Even Santa and his reindeer would struggle to get round them all.
This Christmas is a perfect time to embrace the simpler things in life, whether that’s time spent with friends and loved ones, enjoying nature’s magnificent scenery or just getting outdoors and enjoying some fresh air.
Woodland Trust site manager James Jesson said: “If you’d rather not spend the entire festive season overindulging, head out for a woodland adventure.
“Our woods are real winter wonderlands – so whether it’s a crisp, frosty morning or a damp soggy afternoon, it’s great to pull on your boots and thermals or waterproofs and head out for an invigorating stroll.
“Winter woods take on a whole new character. Spectacular, frosty landscapes and bare branches expose elusive wildlife and hidden history. The fact they are all free to visit is just the icing on the Christmas cake.”
Woodland Trust sites are open all year round so come prepared for nature in its natural state, unmissable views, clean air and birdsong.
By following the woodland paths, you won’t disturb the winter wildlife and will allow nature to thrive in its woodland surroundings.
You can locate your nearest free woodland escape easily – just enter your postcode at woodlandtrust.org.uk/findawood or take a look through the woodlands below for some inspiration.
Falkender Wood – Todhills Melmerby Cumbria
Falkender Wood is a newly created woodland, planted and named after the generous benefactor whose legacy enabled the Trust to purchase the land.
It lies within the parish of Melmerby in Cumbria and has magnificent views westwards to the Blencathra and the Lake District; and northwards up along the chain of the Pennines.
The wood was planted in 2018 with a mix of native broadleaved trees and shrubs, including English oak, silver and downy birch, wild cherry and bird cherry, crab apple and dog rose.
In just a few short years the canopy will close to give the feel and look of ‘real woodland’, and it’s inclusion in a circular walk from Melmerby means it is already frequently visited and enjoyed by local people.
Smithills Estate – Bolton, Lancashire
The Woodland Trust’s largest site is steeped in history and shadowed by the famous Winter Hill TV mast, with panoramic views across to Bolton and Manchester. You’ll really be able to stretch your legs here in its vast expanses of moorland, patches of woodland and peat bog. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive brown hare on the horizon.