Top 10 places for forest bathing

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, forest bathing could be the answer. Developed in Japan, forest bathing (Shinrin Yoku) is the practice of simply being among trees. It encourages being mindful of the nature around you, and has been recognised for its benefits to the mind and body.

From luscious green canopies to mist-cloaked forests, here are our top woodland places to experience the restorative power of trees:

A stream rushes through Padley woods

Longshaw, Derbyshire 

Wandering through Padley Gorge on the Longshaw Estate, it’s all too easy to imagine you’ve stumbled into some mystical fairy glen. Trees cling to the rocky slopes; their branches twisting and intertwining overhead, while below the rushing Burbage Brook tumbles its way down the gritstone gorge. Further afield, Bolehill Quarry with its enchanting silver birch trees and glades littered with disused millstones makes a good detour. Finish the day in the tea-room with a seasonal soup, warming Derbyshire Oatcake or home-made cake.

Early morning light over Newtown creek

Newtown National Nature Reserve, Isle of Wight 

For visitors seeking respite and serenity, this ancient woodland on the Isle of Wight has much to offer. In the early morning a silvery mist rises from a nearby creek, shrouding the trees in mystery. Walk through the woods to the eerily beautiful marshes, keeping watch for red squirrels darting between the trees. The East Bird Hide looks out onto the still water and provides a peaceful bird-watching spot; ospreys are frequent visitors.

The view is always worth the walk

Standish Woods, Gloucestershire  

Discover the healing power of nature on a woodland walk at this Cotswold escape. A gentle 4.5 mile stroll takes you past grazing cattle, Iron Age forts and wildflower meadows flecked with colour. Feeling energised? Stride up the steep incline to Haresfield Beacon and watch the Cotswold countryside unfold beneath you. If you’re lucky you could see a buzzard or a kestrel gliding above the hills. Leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Winding paths through the valley

Fingle Woods, Devon 

Lying on the northern fringes of Dartmoor, the Teign Valley is easy to reach but still retains an air of mystery and wildness. From Castle Drogo it’s a steep walk down through the trees, with the sound of the rushing River Teign growing louder as you get closer to the valley floor. Here the foot path turns to meander along the river bank, and with the luscious green canopy of tree branches overhead it’s easy to imagine you’re stumbled into a forgotten forest. If you’re lucky you might even spot otters or kingfishers along the way.

Sheringham Park, Norfolk

Sheringham Park, Norfolk 

Switch off your phone and savour the sounds and sights of nature on the Norfolk coast. With tree-top canopies, expansive sea views and herds of dappled brown deer, Sheringham Park is the perfect place to get away from it all. Breathe in the sweet scents of rhododendrons and azaleas on a wander through the gardens, once the setting of lavish champagne parties. Or for a more strenuous walk, follow the seven-mile circuit that meanders through tranquil woodland and fields, and across exposed cliff tops. Listen for skylarks warbling overhead.

Bradenham bluebells

Bradenham Estate, Buckinghamshire 

Get off the beaten track among ancient beech trees on the Bradenham Estate in Buckinghamshire. In spring, bluebells carpet the forest floor whilst summer brings wild flowers and lush meadows. Take a moment to pause in the dappled shade of the woods, noticing the light shining through the fluttering leaves and feeling the warmth of the sun on your face. Finish the day with a picnic on the adjacent chalk grassland slopes or tuck into a delicious lunch at the Red Lion pub in the nearby village.

Yoag at Footprint in Windermere

Footprint, Windermere, Cumbria 

St Catherine’s Wood lies only a stone’s throw from Lake Windermere, but is a whole world away from the hustle and bustle of the popular Lakeland town. Take a walk through the trees and you’ll hear the comforting sound of birdsong every step of the way. In the heart of the forest you’ll find Footprint – an innovative straw bale building created as a base for people to reconnect with nature through workshops and courses. Why not try to find your zen with a yoga class, or have a go at woodworking?

River Gamlan in Ganllwyd near Dolgellau, Snowdonia

Coed Ganllwyd, Wales 

Tucked away in a less-visited corner of Snowdonia lies Coed Ganllwyd – Wales’ answer to a tropical rainforest. Heavy rainfall and spray from the turbulent River Gamlyn result in a humid atmosphere that is trapped by the dense canopy, making a rich environment for mosses. The true highlight of a walk through the woods are the spectacular Rhaeadr Ddu waterfalls. Stand on the wooden bridge and marvel at the dramatic cascades which are ever-changing depending on levels of rainfall.

The Belvedere on the Downhill Demesne

Downhill Demesne, Northern Ireland 

Nestled on the Downhill Estate on the wild Northern Ireland coast is a small woodland haven that provides shelter from the windswept clifftops. Filled with the scents of bluebells and wild garlic in spring, the Black Glen arboretum makes an ideal oasis for those looking to get closer to nature. Follow the trail to the striking Mussenden Temple, touching the bark of the trees and inhaling the cool, coastal air as you go.

Trees reflected in a pond between Alderley Edge and Hare Hill, Cheshire, in May

Hare Hill, Cheshire 

The small but perfectly-formed woodland garden at Hare Hill is the ideal place to take a tranquil stroll. Calm your mind amongst the tall trees and still ponds, and immerse yourself in nature by taking in the seasonal blooms. In spring the vibrant rhododendrons and fragrant magnolias are at their best, followed by the elegant white perennial borders in summer. From June –September, you can also join a Tai Chi class in the walled garden to calm your mind and relax your body.