In winter, woods take on a whole new character; autumnal hues fade making way for spectacular, frosty landscapes. Perfect for enjoying nature’s sights and sounds while burning off some of those festive mince pie calories!
I’ve picked out a few of the best winter woodlands across the country. So pull on your boots, get outside and enjoy the winter wonderland.
Set in a 350ft gorge, there is something about the wild splendour of Hackfall that inspires creativity. Nineteenth century writers hailed it as one of the most beautiful woodlands in the country while landscape artist Turner painted there.
The site, near Grewelthorpe in North Yorkshire, was bought in 1731 by John Aislabie, famous for his landscaping work at Fountains Abbey. His son William created surprise views, waterfalls and follies - many of which survive today.
Marden Park Woods
High on the North Downs near Woldingham in Surrey, you will find 167 acre Marden Park Woods - a SSSI of great diversity with ancient and new woodland, and stretches of recreated chalk grassland.
The North Downs Way and the six-mile Woldingham Countryside Walk both run through the site which is well served by footpaths and a bridleway.
At Lineover Wood, near Dowdeswell, Cheltenham, you can walk among ancient trees and look for signs of the wood’s astounding array of wildlife including deer, foxes and badgers. Small streams and underwater springs running beneath the wood help to feed Dowsdeswell reservoir and the Cotswold Way national trail crosses the site.
At Tring in Hertfordshire you’ll find Tring Park - an impressive 107 hectare parkland rich in history. The site is believed to date back to 1066. Banker Lionel de Rothschild bought the estate in 1872 and his son Nathaniel - the first Lord Rothschild - opened a zoo on the site as a gift to his son Walter, who introduced numerous exotic animals.
Brede High Woods
At 648 acres, Brede High Woods lies within the High Weald Area of Natural Beauty, approximately six miles north of Hastings. The woods, at Cripps Corner in East Sussex, undulate and change in the form of banks, ditches and sunken tracks. Species living here include the great crested newt, brook lamprey, dormice, badgers and fallow deer.
Bunkers Hill, near Stourbridge, Birmingham, has a wonderful mix of broadleaves and conifers, providing a haven for flora and wildlife throughout the year. There are ancient trees on site and excellent views of the surrounding countryside. A good path network enables you to explore the site thoroughly - many are suitable for wheelchairs.
Crinan Wood rises 100 metres above the village of Crinan in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. The Crinan Canal borders the site and the famous Corryvreckan whirlpool is a few miles out to sea (if it's really wild you can hear it from the wood). 24 species of birds can be found in the 35 hectare wood, including buzzards, tree creepers, redstarts and wood warblers. With its relatively moist, warm climate, Crinan Wood is often described as a remnant of Scotland’s own rainforest.
Credenhill Park Wood
Credenhill Park Wood in Herefordshire is a 91 hectare local landmark with historical and environmental importance, boasting rare small-leaved lime trees, and one of the largest Iron Age hill forts in England - thought to have been a tribal capital.
The steep walk to the top of the hill is well worth it - you can see views across to Wales, whilst soaking up the winter landscape and letting your imagination take you back to a time gone by.
Cwm Mynach is a hidden valley nestling on the flanks of the Rhinog Mountains. We have been working to restore this thousand-acre wood to native broadleaf woodland. Come and see how the area is being gradually transformed and enjoy spectacular views of mountains, streams and lakes from one of the many footpaths through the woodland.
Carnmoney Hill rises 232m (761ft) above Newtownabbey and offers wonderful views over the City of Belfast and Belfast Lough. Part of a chain of hills around Belfast, it is made up of areas of semi-natural grassland, wetland and ancient woodland. Stroll around the foot of the hill or choose from a lower woodland walk (which takes about 45 minutes) or the more challenging hilltop walk (lasting around two hours).