Forestry England and TV presenter Kate Humble, who is also ambassador for the UK walking charity Living Streets, have got together to encourage people to put one foot in front of another and soak up the nation’s forests during Mental Health Awareness Week (May 13 to 19).
Kate says: “Walking for me is a form of mediation and the simple act of putting one foot in front of another has extraordinary benefits to my mental wellbeing. It helps me feel relaxed, less anxious and more creative.
“Walks enjoyed in the nation’s forests can be particularly special. I love to follow trails through the trees where, with every step, you can enjoy the sounds, sights and smells of nature.
“Never knowing what wildlife is going to appear on my pathway makes me excited. There is something so simple about walking but the benefits are huge.”
Forestry England’s top 10 walks for your wellbeing
1 Alice Holt Forest
Lodge Pond trail (2.5 miles)
Starting from the hustle and bustle of the play areas, this scenic walk leads you into the heart of the woodlands to enjoy peaceful broadleaf woods and mature pine forests.
Take a moment to relax by the tranquil Lodge Pond, believed to have been created by medieval monks to breed carp, where you might be lucky enough to see dragon and damsel flies put on an aerial display.
2 Blackwater, New Forest
Walk the Tall Trees trail (1.5 miles)
Walking the circular Tall Trees Trail will take you beneath towering Douglas fir and mighty redwoods. The path is a flat and fairly smooth gravelled surface with frequent resting places to enjoy the forest atmosphere.
3 Cannock Chase Forest
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 look out for grebes and kingfishers whilst clearing your mind.
4 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.
5 High Lodge, Thetford Forest
The Fir Trail (3 miles)
Far away from the visitor centre, this trail takes you into the heart of the forest, allowing you to soak in the atmosphere with all your senses.
6 Jeskyns Forest
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 back your energy.
7 Moors Valley Country Park
The Lookout (1.5 miles)
This lovely meandering route takes you away from the visitor centre into the peace and quiet of the forest.
At the Lookout, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views across the valley.
8 Symonds Yat
Mailscot Wood Trail (4 miles)
With spectacular views across the River Wye and the forest beyond, Symonds Yat is a fabulous place to unwind.
Take the Mailscot Wood Trail through a wonderful mosaic of trees for a challenging and hilly walk that rewards with panoramic views of the River Wye.
9 Wyre Forest
The Buzzard Trail (3.25 miles)
The Buzzard Trail explores the depths of the forest through beautiful mixed woodlands. You will follow forest tracks and narrow paths and walk past majestic old oaks, as well as the Wyre Arboretum.
10 Haldon Forest
The Butterfly Trail (4 miles)
The Butterfly Trail leads you on a circular trail to the peaceful depths of the forest. Discover rare butterflies such as the pearl-bordered fritillary, while bathing in the forest atmosphere. Meander slowly along the trail and take in the stunning views across the forest and over the Teign valley.
The nation’s forests are so much more than just rural landscapes. With more than ,500 forests across the country, there are limitless ways for you to find your connection and enhance your wellbeing. To find out what your forest can do for you, visit Forestry England.