Set off on a buggy walk
With their ever-changing patterns of light, rustling leaves and birdsong, and all kinds of new textures and scents, woods are fantastic places for babies and toddlers to explore. So we’ve put together a list of our favourite buggy and family-friendly woods.
Don’t forget to go armed with some woodland activities. How about putting together a sensory box, going on a touchy feely texture hunt, making a leaf collection or seeing how many animals and birds you can identify with our cute little critters spotter sheet. Check out our sensory activities for babies blog for some more ideas too.
Hainault Forest, Essex
This beautiful ancient woodland, right on the outskirts of London, has a network of surfaced paths. Toddlers will love following the Monster Trail to discover the creatures hiding in the forest. Why not make a day of it and explore Hainault Forest Country Park next door too? It has adventure play areas, nature trails and a petting zoo, as well as a café and toilets.
Heartwood Forest, Hertfordshire
Follow the circular trail through the wood and discover Heartwood’s beauty. The fully surfaced path starts at the car park and meanders through the newly planted areas – perfect for pushchairs. There’s also an extra path that takes you to Langley Wood, an ancient woodland with a play area for your little explorers!
Skipton Castle Woods, North Yorkshire
The wood is an easy stroll from the town (where you’ll find the nearest car park) and right next to the towering castle – sure to impress your toddler! The Wild about Woods trail is perfect for buggies too (though there are steps on some other routes).
Fingle Woods, Devon
Stroll along the 4 kilometres of riverside path in this woodland right on the edge of Dartmoor. The family-friendly Fingle Bridge Inn is a good starting point and there are public toilets in the nearby National Trust car park.
Lang Craigs, Dumbarton
This wild and wonderful woodland has a network of easy paths that are ready for you to explore. Start your walk at Overtoun House and follow the marked trail to the fish pond, or if you’re on the hunt for amazing views of the craigs, take the track opposite the car park and follow the path loop. The tea room’s open on Friday and Saturday, plus Thursday in July and August.
Pressmennan Wood, East Lothian
The Glingbobs and Tootflits live in this ancient oak woodland – toddlers will love looking out for these magical creatures in their tiny houses on the circular sculpture trail. They’ll need to be very quiet so they don’t scare off these shy creatures though! Please note, only part of the trail is accessible by buggy, and the lower trail (running along the lake) is pedestrian access only and often muddy. Wellies for wee ones are highly recommended!
Butterdean Wood, East Lothian
This beautiful wood has a car park and an all-abilities, buggy-friendly path, which follows a circular, waymarked route (colour coded orange). Along the trail you’ll find several fantastic sculptures hidden among the trees, and at Lara’s Land there is a special outdoor seating area for families and friends to meet, picnic and – best of all – make dens!
Dyffryn Woods, Neath
Take a stroll on the gentle, lower slopes of Mynydd Drumau mountain and enjoy some spectacular views of the valley and coast. This ancient woodland has a huge range of insect species so it’s a great place for a first minibeast hunt.
Coed Hafod y Llyn, Snowdonia
This wood’s great for little train lovers as you can travel there on the historic Ffestiniog Railway. There are lots of accessible paths and you can have a picnic and feed the ducks at Llyn Mair lake too.
Oakfield Glen, County Antrim
Newly laid concrete paths mean it’s now a breeze to push the buggy through this historic woodland, once part of a country estate. Look out for the Púca, mischievous, fairy-like creatures who peer down at you from the trees! There are some lovely, steel leaf sculptures too.
Drumnaph Wood, County Londonderry
Summer’s the perfect time to visit as this ancient woodland comes alive with butterflies, while damselflies and dragonflies dart around the pond. Remember to bring your net and try your hand at pond dipping! If that’s too much for your toddlers, they’re sure to be fascinated by the tree stump sculpture with different woodland creatures – including an otter, an owl and a hedgehog – carved into it. How many can they name?
Find another wood
If these woods are too far away, you can search for woods near you. Don’t forget that lots of woods have areas of muddy and uneven ground, so make sure you take your all-terrain buggy!
Do you have your own favourite wood to walk in with the buggy? Tell us about it in the comments below or on our Facebook page. We’d love to see some pictures too. You can post them on Twitter and Instagram using #NatureDetectives.