Our top ten: fall in love with autumn woods

We have now compiled our annual list of top autumn woods, based on the best pictures of 2016.

They’ve all been sent in by wood lovers – whether they are members of the public or our dedicated volunteers and staff. So what are you waiting for?

Here is our handpicked selection of woods for you to visit – don’t forget, they’re all free and open for people to visit, so no excuses!

Prehen Wood, County Londonderry 

Prehen Wood (Photo: WTML/ Kaye Coates)
Prehen Wood (Photo: WTML/ Kaye Coates)

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This irreplaceable ancient woodland, just a stone’s throw from the city of Derry/Londonderry, provides a valuable habitat for the red squirrel, sparrowhawk and long-eared owl. The entire wood has Tree Preservation Order status and was designated a Site of Local Nature Conservation Importance in the 1990s.

Prehen Wood boasts terrific views over the city and the River Foyle. Visitors are greeted by some additional crafty woodland creatures. The wooden sculptures were created by Michael Rodgers with input from children from the local Rosemount Primary School.

Cwm George & Casehill Woods, Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan

Cwm George & Casehill Woods (Photo: WTML/ Pete Bushell)
Cwm George & Casehill Woods (Photo: WTML/ Pete Bushell)

This wood is a mix of semi-ancient woodland, new native planting and open meadows. It is classed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and contains an ancient monument known as Dinas Powys hill fort, which lies on the top of a ridge between the river valley and a gorge. The fort is believed to have been built around 450 BC and was used on and off for twelve centuries. It offers a unique insight into the society of early medieval Britain.

Cwm Mynach, near Bontddu, Gwynedd

Cwm Mynach (Photo: WTML/ Mark Zytynski)
Cwm Mynach (Photo: WTML/ Mark Zytynski)

Cwm Mynach is 945 acres of Celtic rainforest, nestled in a hidden valley running through the beautiful Rhinogydd mountain range. Woodland pathways lead to breath-taking views of lakes, streams and the heights of Snowdonia.
The typically damp climate of north-west Wales means rare lichen can thrive, and the waters attract dipper and grey wagtails.

Glen Finglas, near Brig o’Turk, Stirling

Glen Finglas (Photo: WTML/ Laurie Campbell)
Glen Finglas (Photo: WTML/ Laurie Campbell)

With its sweeping vistas of rolling hills mirrored in glassy lochs, heather-covered uplands, hidden glens and ancient woodlands, Glen Finglas epitomises the Scottish Highlands. The Woodland Trust’s largest site, it lies at the heart of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and is part of the Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve. It has something for everyone: a wealth of wildlife, intriguing history, and walks to suit all abilities.

Loch Arkaig Pine Forest, Spean Bridge, the Highlands

Loch Arkaig (Photo: WTML/ Phil Formby)
Loch Arkaig (Photo: WTML/ Phil Formby)

The Loch Arkaig Pine Forest is one of the UK’s most significant fragments of native Caledonian pinewood. It lies within an iconic landscape of sparkling lochs fringed by mountains and heather-covered moors. With its rare wildlife and flora, this vast forest is a hugely exciting recent purchase for the Trust, though it will still cost a further £4,000,000 to restore over the next two decades. If you can’t visit in person experience the wood with our virtual reality 360 tour.

Tring Park, Tring, Hertfordshire

Tring Park (Photo: WTML/ Phil Formby)
Tring Park (Photo: WTML/ Phil Formby)

Despite the creation of the A41, Tring Park remains as an oasis for wildlife and local flora, and the Trust has worked to restore pockets of its ancient woodland for over 22 years. The parkland also has a fascinating history – Sir Walter Rothschild collected exotic animals and allowed them to roam the grounds in the 1800s. Evidence of this era can still be found, such as an obelisk and summerhouse.
The Woodland Trust has also purchased a 63 acre extension to Tring Park, thanks to the generosity of local people. It is now, with the help of the public, making plans for the sites future.

Grey Park Wood, Ashburton, Devon

 

Grey Park Wood (Photo: WTML/ Emily Lee)
Grey Park Wood (Photo: WTML/ Emily Lee)

This pretty wood is famed for lichens, and the fast flowing waters of Ruddycleave, which has created small waterfalls, as it runs over granite boulders. The area is dominated by oak high forest dating back to the early 1800s.

Skipton Castle Woods, Skipton, North Yorkshire

Skipton Castle (Photo: WTML/ John MacPherson)
Skipton Castle (Photo: WTML/ John MacPherson)

Skipton Castle Woods is a rare ancient woodland, that was once part of a great hunting woodland that stretched across North Yorkshire. Many of the trees you will see are veterans dating between 30 and 150 years old. Britain’s smallest bat, the brown long-eared, pipistrelle and 28 species of bird call it home.
Skipton has recently been given the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and has reached a milestone of hiring 30 volunteers to support the work done in the wood. Images of Skipton were taken when filming a virtual reality 360 degree tour of the site.

Smithills Estate, near Bolton, Greater Manchester

Smithills Estate (Photo: WTML/ John Macpherson)
Smithills Estate (Photo: WTML/ John Macpherson)

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Visiting Woods

The iconic Smithills Estate is the largest site ever acquired in England by the Woodland Trust. Steeped in history and shadowed by the famous Winter Hill TV mast, it’s a rich mosaic of grassland, moorland and bog habitats.
Many features of the Smithills Estate are in need of restoration but this is still a wonderful place to visit, and over the next few years the Trust will preserve and enhance the iconic landscape for the benefit of people and wildlife.

Hainault Forest, near Romford, Essex

Hainault Forest (Photo: WTML/ Michael Heffernan)
Hainault Forest (Photo: WTML/ Michael Heffernan)

Although once the scene of royal hunts during the 11th Century, this ancient woodland is now a haven for birdwatchers trying to catch a glimpse of 158 different species. It is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its wide range of habitats – ancient broadleaf woodland and pasture, grassland, heath and wetland. It’s also easily accessible from London and has free parking on site.

Things to do, see and make

We’ve got some perfect pastimes for chilly, woodland adventures.

1. Brave a leaf storm…
Nature Detectives scheme has over 220 fun, free activity sheets for families to download as inspiration for trips out. Ideas for autumn play include creating a leaf storm, building a giant bird’s nest and making woodland potions.

2. Be a seasonal scientist
Nature’s Calendar is one of the longest running citizen science surveys in the UK, which asks members of the public to help track the changing seasons. So, keep a look out for leaf tint and fruit ripening, and log your dates online.

Our top ten woods are just a handful of our 1,200 + sites across the UK. We want everyone to find a wood near them, and enjoy all it has to offer.