If you spent last night wide awake at 2am mind racing, palms sweating, panic raging about whether you’d get a seat on the train during tomorrow’s commute, then take a deep breath, close your eyes, and follow us for some forest bathing.
Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is an ancient Japanese relaxation and healing practice of improving health and wellbeing using the natural environment. More than just a bracing ramble through the woods it’s about being calm and quiet amongst trees and nature.
Experts suggest moving very slowly, looking out for interesting colours and patterns, breathing deeply, and leaning against or touching the trees. Some even say, lie down beneath the trees and look up through the branches, but try not to spook the dogwalkers.
The crisp, cool autumn air and crunchiness of leaves beneath your feet make this time of year great for woodland walks and forest bathing. With that in mind, where are the best forests to escape the soul crushing stress of that meeting that could have definitely been an email?
Beechwood Friston Forest is nestled within the South Downs National Park, just a short 18-minute drive from Eastbourne.
Bathability: 3/5 There are plenty of trails to walk, and plenty of space to breathe in the stunning landscape and views of the Cuckmere.
Nearest town: Eastbourne
Nearest town/city: Basingstoke
A light and airy forest teeming with wildlife and protected species is what makes Basing Wood a great candidate for forest bathing.
Bathability: 3/5 It boasts three walking trails and plenty of winding paths for you to lose yourself in nature.
Great Hockham in Thetford Forest has two walking trails and a picnic area, but what makes it a great place for forest bathing is its pingos.
Bathability: 4/5 Pingos are a type of hill, only formed within permafrost areas, meaning these were formed during the last Ice Age!
Nearest town: Thetford
Listen to the sweet sound of the woodlarks and keep your eyes peeled for sika deer in this wildlife filled forest.
Bathability 4/5: Wareham provides a patchwork of habitats including bog lands, streams, heathland, and dense forest.
Nearest town: Wareham
Set in the hills of Dartmoor National Park, Canonteigh Forest is home to idyllic walks along the Beadon Brook.
Bathability: 4.5/5 Enjoy the tranquillity of the woodland at the stream or challenge yourself to one of the hikes through the trees.
Nearest city: Exeter
An open and airy forest with a number of glades, woods, and wide paths on the outskirts Bristol.
Bathability: 5/5 With a huge amount of space to relax and recharge, Leigh Woods is the perfect place to practice forest bathing.
Nearest city: Bristol
Haughmond Hill is full of history. Discover the Iron Age enclosure or look out over the quarry on the viewing platform.
Bathability: 3.5/5 Follow the trails for picturesque views across the River Severn and Shrewsbury whilst drinking in the nature around you.
Nearest town: Shrewsbury
A mixed woodland with plenty of open meadows and a network of paths make this park a great place to escape the busy city and take in the nature around you.
Bathability 3/5 Walk past the Georgian mansion’s foundations and feel connected to an era gone by.
Nearest city: Manchester
Find the hidden quarry workings within this coniferous wood and follow numerous streams down the hillsides under the trees.
Bathability: 4.5/5 The steep terrain within Wharncliffe Woods is not for the faint of heart but the views are worth the walk.
Nearest city: Sheffield
Enter this nature reserve for a reconnect and keep an eye out for adders in this flat, peaceful woodland.
Bathability: 4/5 This small pine wood can be found in the Vale of York and is a great place for a relaxing, slow stroll under the trees.
Nearest city: York
Enjoy miles of pathways through this 360-hectare mixed woodland, making Chopwell Wood a great place to try forest bathing.
Bathability: 5/5 Chopwell is also part of Forestry England’s Feel Good in the Forest project, aimed at improving mental and physical health. Find out more
Nearest city: Newcastle-upon-Tyne
You can either book a specific event with The Forest Bathing Institute or just head out into one of the forest areas above.
Affordable, convenient and comfy rooms close to the event you're going to
Travelling a while to find the perfect forest? Keep your trip stress-free with a hotel stay. Book your hotel with us here.
We’ve picked forests and woodland close to major transport hubs, making them all easy to reach.
If you’re a bit of a foodie Anatolian Grill in Prestwich, near Drinkwater Park will complete your forest experience. A delicious Turkish menu with all the classics, plus a take-away option to enjoy a picnic tea in the forest.
For those with mobility issues, we recommend Basing Wood and Leigh Woods due to larger paths and extended walking trails.
Affordable, convenient and comfy rooms close to the event you're going to.
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