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Top 5 Woodland Walks to Celebrate 100 Years of Forestry

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Tay Forest Park via jasty78 on Flickr

2019 marks 100 years of the now-devolved Forestry Commission, and there’s no better excuse to get out and enjoy some of the UK’s beautiful green spaces, which can be surprisingly easy to reach from many major cities. Forestry England is holding lots of events to help you find your way into the woods, from art installations like the Nissen Hut, to a series of 10k runs in forests across the country.

Ashdown Forest, East Sussex

Originally a Norman deer hunting forest, Ashdown is one of the largest free public access spaces in the South East. A walk here is a must for fans of Winnie-the-Pooh, as this is the place that inspired the Five Hundred Acre Wood in A.A.Milne’s beloved book. For a short stroll, perfect for Piglets, try one of two Pooh Walks from Gills Lap, which takes in the sites of some of Pooh's great adventures. If you fancy more of a challenge, you can march round the Military on the Forest Walk, which has a few uphill sections and takes you through WW1 practice trenches.

Image credit: Bill Jewitt via Flickr

Brechfa Forest, Carmarthenshire

The 6,500-acre Brechfa Forest is a real playground for nature-lovers, offering trails for walking, cycling and horse riding. Keen horticulturalists will want to head for the Brechfa Forest Garden, where you can find trees from all over the world, such as giant redwoods from California and eucalyptus from Australia. Brechfa Forest is also home to some huge Douglas Firs in the Byrgwm woodland (if you’re on the hunt for the UK’s largest, see below!)

Image credit: jinxsi1960 via Flickr

Tay Forest Park, Perthshire

Not far from the infamous Birnham Wood of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Tay Forest is part of Perthshire’s ‘Big Tree Country’ where you will find plenty of breath-taking mature woodland to explore. The ancient Weem Wood is home to legends of dragons and demons, which are said to have haunted the cliffs and caves of its craggy slopes. Here you’ll find more impressive tree specimens, including Douglas firs among the tallest (59 metres) and widest (7 metres) trees in the UK, and the Fortingall Yew, which may be the oldest tree in the UK at an estimated 2,000-3,000 (or more) years old! With some beautiful Lochs and rivers also in the area, this is the perfect place for nature-lovers to let their feet and minds wander.

Image credit: Sem Geerts via Flickr

Hackfall Wood, North Yorkshire

Technically a Grade-listed garden, designed by 18th Century landscaper John Aislabie, Hackfall looks like a natural wood, with a few added extras like grottoes, a waterfall and fountains. Expect carpets of beautiful bluebells in Spring and an impressive number of woodland birds.

Image credit: Jonathan Bliss via Flickr

Puzzlewood, Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire

The mossy rocks, twisted roots and quaint little footbridges of enchanting Puzzlewood will leave you in no doubt as to why people think it the inspiration for JRR Tolkien's fabled forests of Middle Earth. Small but perfectly formed, this 14-acre ancient woodland is located in the Forest of Dean, where you will also find Clearwell Caves, home to a unique iron mining museum that boasts an impressive system of underground caverns dating to the beginning of the Bronze Age.

Image credit: via chrisgj6 on Flickr

For full listings of the Forestry Commission's centenary celebrations, visit their website.