I don’t think that there is a better time of year than the Autumn months for a walk in the woods. The changing colours and the crunchy leaves underfoot, mushrooms to spot and if you’re lucky that low end of year sunshine to bring all of the shades of red and orange alive.
I always find walking a great way to clear my head and try to be in the moment, this is made much easier when you are surrounded by nature’s beauty. A recent study by neuroscientist Dr Andrea Michelli confirmed a strong link between spending time enjoying nature and mental well being. His study showed that the positive effects of a period in nature could last for seven hours afterwards. So an early morning walk really could set you up for the day!
I love a walk on my own but I also really enjoy the time we spend together as a family or one to one with the children. It’s a great way to get everyone to discard the electronic devices and other distractions and actually talk. A couple of years ago there was a wonderful course put on at my eldest daughter’s school by a charity called Care for the Family. The course was aimed at trying to help parents navigate the dreaded teenage years. Going for a walk together was suggested as a way of getting a non communicative teenager to open up as walking side by side doesn’t require eye contact.
For younger children there’s something magical about a woodland walk, in the local woods where we like to walk we have been lucky enough to see an abundance of fairy toadstools. Spotting one never fails to put a smile on the face of adults as well as the little ones. During the Autumn months we forage for bilberries and brambles, a competition to see who can collect the most and the promise of homemade crumble made from the bounty makes going for a walk all the more appealing. If you take a look at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk and search for Nature Detectives there are some brilliant suggestions for activities to make a trip to the woods even more fun for kids.
Countryfile magazine has compiled a list of what it considers Britain’s best forests. I have listed them here and I would love to know if any of you have been exploring in any of them;
- Grizedale, Cumbria
- Rydal and Grasmere, Cumbria
- Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
- Rivington Wood, Lancashire
- Wistman’s Wood, Devon
- Hackfall, North Yorkshire
- Padley Gorge, Derbyshire
- Priestly Wood, Suffolk
- Kielder Forest, Northumberlamd
- New Forest, Hampshire
- Ingleton Falls, North Yorkshire
- Cragside, Northumberland
- Tollymore Forest Park, County Down
- Banagher Glen, County Derry
- Baluain Wood, Perthshire
- Pressmennan Wood, East Lothian
- Tay Forest Park, Perthshire
- Glen Finglas, Stirling
- Ccm Rheidol, Ceredigon
- Coed y Brenin, Snowdonia
I’m sure these are fabulous places to visit but there must be lots of hidden gems of places dotted around the country. Most of us probably have woodland local to us that we don’t even realise we are able to explore. Once again the Woodland Trust website is a font of knowledge and has a brilliant postcode search engine that allows you to find places local to your area. It’s definitely worth a look if you want to find a new place to investigate. I really hope you might have been inspired to get out walking and I would love to hear about your adventures.