Top 10 coastal woods in the UK
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Summer is almost here and many of us are thinking about fabulous fun days out and relaxing evening strolls. What could be better than a woodland adventure with the seaside thrown in for good measure?
Bats, rare butterflies, dinosaur footprints and even the roar of a whirlpool are just waiting to be discovered. Here's our top 10.
1. Uig Wood, Portree, Skye
On the Scottish island of Skye, this wood has three distinct parts: a fringe of mature woodland along the shore of Uig Bay, and two steep-sided ravine woodlands. In a largely treeless landscape, Uig Woods is of great importance for its aesthetic value and for the flora and fauna it supports. Don’t miss the falls on the River Rha that flows through the wood towards the sea.
2. Old Wood, Sheringham, Norfolk
Enjoy great views across the wood to Sheringham and the sea beyond – the southern end of Old Wood is one of the highest points in Norfolk. The wood is also home to a variety of flora and fauna. Look out for pipistrelle bat, common shrew, adder and the elusive roe deer. Fourteen species of butterfly have been recorded here too, including comma and holly blue.
3. Butcher's Wood, Brighton, East Sussex
Less than 10 miles from Brighton, Butcher's Wood lies in the Sussex Downs Area of Natural Beauty (AONB). Over 400 years old, this ancient woodland has a great path network for you to explore the whole site. Don’t miss the abundant ground flora including wood anemones, yellow archangel, early purple orchid, moschatel, enchanter's nightshade and various woodland sedges.
4. Pond Wood & Compass Hill, Strangford, Northern Ireland
Planted in 2001, this scenic young wood has lots to see. A Victorian pond at its centre has been restored to its former glory and seven unique animal sculptures are dotted along more than 1km of paths. Take in great views to Castleward Estate and far up Strangford Lough, a large sea loch. Look out for heron, otters and seals towards the coast.
5. Marl Hall Woods, Llandudno, Clywd, North Wales
Resting on a cliff-side around Llandudno Junction, Marl Hall has spectacular views into the valley and Conwy Estuary below. Rare and beautiful wildflowers grow among areas of ancient woodland and younger trees. Listen and watch for wildlife including great spotted woodpecker, jay and the iridescent green cistus forester moth.
6. Scar & Castlebeck Woods, Scarborough, North Yorkshire
Set in the North York Moors, these secluded woods straddle a steep ravine carved by streams and rivers that run off the moors. The area is cited as one of the best inland exposures of dinosaur footprints in the UK - a real must-see for keen archaeologists and palaeontologists!
7. Brookings Down Wood, Plymouth, Devon
Above the tiny fishing village of Noss Mayo near Plymouth sits a real hidden gem. Managed mostly by local volunteers, the site is thriving with birdlife. Hunt for the ancient trees on site and come back in spring and autumn for spectacular displays of colourful leaves and flowers too. Footpaths are steep in places but worth the climb to the glades packed with wildflowers.
Credit: Pete Holmes/WTML
8. Sea Wood, Bardsea, Cumbria
Sea Wood stands against the shore of Morecambe Bay and is edged by the shingle beach of Ulverston Sands. The long distance Cumbria Coastal Path runs along the beach just outside the wood boundary. Discover the old oak trees that still stand here. In the past, large oak timbers from the site were floated to ship builders in Ulverston at high tide.
9. Allington Hill & Cooper's Wood, Bridport, Dorset
This expanse of open heathland and old oak woodland is home to a variety of special wildlife. Spot Dartford warblers nesting in the heather, nightjars flying at dusk and as many as 22 species of colourful dragonflies. The reserve overlooks Poole Harbour where thousands of wading birds can be spotted. Ospreys are regularly seen on migration in late summer and autumn.
10. Crinan Wood, Crinan, Argyll and Bute
Crinan Wood rises above Crinan village to give superb views across the Argyll coastline to the islands of Jura, Scarba, Luing, Seil and Mull. From here you can also spot the 12th century Duntrune Castle across Crinan Loch. With the right combination of tide and wind, you can hear the roar of the famous Corrievreckan whirlpool.