Are you dreaming of a green Christmas? If so, you’re not alone.
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 fresh air and free fun on the cards instead of expensive gifts, excess and waste.
With that in mind, the Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity, has come up with a guide to some of 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. Woodland Trust 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. And by sticking to the woodland paths, you won’t disturb the winter wildlife and you’ll 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 at the Trust’s pick of the best winter walks from the south west of England:
Avon Valley Woods, Devon
A hidden treasure in the rolling hills of South Hams, the Avon Valley Woods cluster along the valley side. Winter is a great time to spot a whole range of finches, blue tits and long tailed and great tits that tend to flock in large groups at this time of year. While the riverside walk can be muddy, the extensive path network at the top of the site offers grassy tracks and views across Devon.
Credenhill Park Credenhill, Herefordshire
Credenhill Park Wood is a local landmark on an imposing wooded hill, topped by one of the largest Iron Age Hill forts in England and thought to have once been an Iron Age tribal capital. The walk to the top, where you can revel in views to Wales, is well worth it and when trees are bare, you’re more likely to spot woodpeckers tapping the trees.
Duncliffe Wood, Dorset
Duncliffe Wood is one of the oldest and largest woods in north Dorset and once marked the south-western boundary of the Gillingham Royal Forest. This magnificent ancient woodland sits on the twin summits of Duncliffe Hill and can be seen from miles around. Its excellent path network make it ideal for a winter wander.
Fingle Woods – Devon
Wander through 28 miles of new trails, take in spectacular views of the gurgling river and discover Fingle’s fascinating history. Explore glades dappled with winter sun, spot wildlife and uncover intricate woodland archaeology.
Lineover Wood – Gloucestershire
A patchwork of ancient woodland, recent planting and limestone grassland creates a diverse haven for wildlife where rare plants and fungi flourish. The wood lies within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and offers breathtaking views across Cheltenham and the Malvern Hills.
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