This autumn let the rainbow of colours, the scent of the trees and the sounds of the forest ease your stress and worry by trying forest bathing.
Known in Japan as shinrin-yoku, forest bathing is simply being in nature, connecting with the forest through our senses of sight, hearing, taste and touch. We all know how good being in nature can make us feel, so here at Forestry Commission England, we have put together our top 10 mindful walks this autumn, ready to refresh your body, mind and spirit. Some of these walks would be perfect for taking your little ones on, even if you do just part of the walk, it's something to enjoy and have fun with!
- Alice Holt – Family trail (3 miles)
Offering the chance to explore further into the forest with your senses, the wide forest track is an open space which you can use comfortably. The trail passes through an interesting variety of woodland habitats, from conifer plantation to mature broadleaf scattered with woodland clearings. Enjoy a stop and take in your surroundings in one of the meadows along the route.
- Blackwater, New Forest – Walk the Tall Trees trail (1.5 miles)
Walking the circular ‘Tall Trees Trail’ will take you through an impressive section of the drive amongst towering Douglas fir and mighty redwoods giving you plenty of opportunities to slow down and look up. The path is a flat and fairly smooth gravelled surface with frequent resting places to enjoy the forest atmosphere and great for little ones.
- Cannock – The Fairoak trail (2.5 miles)
An easy circular trail, the walk meanders through the forest and opens out into the Fairoak Valley. Here you’ll find the magnificent Fairoak Pools, a rich and important habitat that many wildlife species call home. Stop here and try and spot swans, ducks and deer whilst clearing your mind.
- Dalby Forest – The Adderstone Rigg trail (1.5 miles)
Head into Dalby Forest and explore the naturally sculpted adder stone with your senses on this gentle walk. The trail follows forest paths and roads through a variety of woodland allowing you the opportunity to ease your stress. You will be met with stunning views over the forest.
- Bedgebury National Pinetum – Forest trail (3.5 miles)
Bedgebury Forest once rang to the sounds of iron manufacture. Today it’s more likely you’ll hear bird song, the patter of paws from dog walkers and the neigh of a horse rider in the distance. This circular route takes you along hard surfaced paths passing ancient trees and ponds home to wild flowers, bats, birds and insects.
- Jeskyns – The Broomfield Loop (1.5 miles)
A gentle, undulating walk on surfaced paths that leads you through new woodlands, grazed meadows, orchards and ponds. A trail to restore your mood and give you backs your energy.
- Moors Valley – The Look Out (1.5 miles)
This lovely meandering route takes you away from the visitor centre into the peace and quiet of the forest. The trail takes you to an amazing spot where you can let your stresses drift away, the Lookout. Once here you’ll be rewarded with stunning views across the valley.
- Wareham Forest – The Woodlark Trail (2 miles)
Wareham forest is a delight to discover on foot. The trail is generally flat, with a couple of slight inclines, ideal for bathing in the glory of the forest. As you walk slowly along the path, keep your senses open for the secretive Sika and Roe deer.
- West Woods – The Purple easy access trail (1 mile)
This peaceful and quite trail is perfect for those wishing to get away from it all. Take a seat under the magnificent beech trees and let your everyday stresses drift away. Look out and listen for the red kites and the other birds that call these woods their home.
- Westonbirt Arboretum – The Seasonal trail (1.5 miles)
The seasonal trail in the Old Arboretum is the perfect place to escape the outside world and dive into the tranquil beauty of the arboretum. Why not stop for a spot of forest bathing in Acer Glade, one of the most vibrant and breath-taking areas of the arboretum in the autumn, where you can soak in the dazzling varieties of colour our world famous maple leaves can provide.
To help you feel good this autumn, Forestry Commission England have developed a downloadable activity pack which contains lots of fun activity sheets for families and early years practitioners to use and enjoy including; some ideas for sensory activities from Mind, top Forest Bathing tips and introductory Forest Bathing activities aimed at both children and adults. For more information please visit www.forestry.gov.uk/autumn