Woodland Walkies Your Dog Wood Love
A trip through the woods can be a balm to the soul at any time of year. In the spring you can walk through carpets of wildflowers, and in summer you can enjoy their leafy coolness. The autumnal blaze of colour is always spectacular, and a brisk walk amongst the fractal forms in winter is the perfect way to blow away the cobwebs.
13% of the UK is covered in woodland, equating to around 3.16 million hectares, which is a lot of dog walking! We’ve pulled together some of our favourites below, but we’d love to hear your suggestions – do get in touch on Facebook or Twitter!
Woodland Walk, Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire. There is an official trail through the ancient oaks, birches and yews that takes in the grand ruins of the Abbey, the Devil’s Pulpit and a bridge across the River Wye, but if you want to follow your nose instead it’s a lovely place to wander as both Wordsworth and Turner discovered.
In ancient times England looked very different. Deep forest covered most of the land, and the few human settlements stood like islands in a sea of trees. Most of these wooden natives have fallen before the woodsman’s axe, but in places you can still find trees that stood during this arboreal empire. Places such as Kingley Vale Nature Reserve in Sussex. Some of the yew trees here are believed to be over 2,000 years old, some of the oldest living organisms in the country. It’s not a place to go off trail (visitors are requested to stay on the tracks to protect the delicate environment),but staying on the beaten path has never been so fascinating.
Unlike the previous two, Hackfall is very much the result of man’s handiwork. Sculpted in the eighteenth century, this wooded landscape in a Yorkshire ravine is studded with unexpected delights: secret grottoes, follies, waterfalls, even a gravity fed fountain that shoots water thirty feet into the air.
Part of the High Weald National Park in Sussex, Brede High Woods are a fascinating 262 hectares of rare wildlife, huge modern conifers and ancient hornbeams and sweet chestnut. Look out for the artefacts of a world long gone – it’s possible to see sawpits, iron-ore extraction pits and many ruined buildings on your travels.
Dunwich Forest, a few miles south of Southwold in Suffolk, is a lovely mix of conifers, wood pasture and wet woodland. Like most woods there are open spaces too, and you may see Dartmoor ponies grazing, having been transported from their native Devon. The eastern edge of Dunwich Forest is just a few hundred metres from the sea, and the air is an unusual mix of salty ozone and rich woodland.
Should you find yourself in West Cornwall, you and your dog should make your way to Tehidy Woods, the largest expanse of woodland in the area. The 101 hectares are now managed as a country park, so there are more facilities than you’d find in most woods – carefully maintained paths, cafes, lakes, a BBQ area. However, there is plenty of room to go off the beaten track and find your own space, so you and your dog can enjoy one of life’s great pleasures – reconnecting with nature.