17 Dec TV presenter Julia Bradbury says invigorating woodland walks have helped her cope with ongoing treatment for breast cancer
TV presenter Julia Bradbury says invigorating woodland walks have helped her cope with ongoing treatment for breast cancer.
Julia, who has presented both BBC’s Countryfile and Britain’s Best Walks, is an avid walker and has revealed some of her favourite free Woodland Trust’s woods for a winter stroll.
She says her diagnosis for breast cancer in September has magnified her love of the outdoors and made her even more aware of the healing power of nature.
“Although my treatment has left me feeling fragile, I’ve been trying to get outside every day and build up my steps,” Julia said.
“There’s nothing like a walk, through beautiful trees, to boost your physical and mental wellbeing.
Breathing in pure air and surrounding myself with nature is good for the soul and a welcome distraction from what I’m going through at the moment.”
The Woodland Trust has more than 1,000 woods across the UK, all free to visit and open every day.
You can locate your nearest woodland escape easily – just enter your postcode at woodlandtrust.org.uk/findawood or take a look at Julia and the Trust’s pick of the best winter walks from around the UK.
Julia added: “This Christmas people are really looking forward to getting together with friends and loved ones. I’d urge everyone to plan a trip to their nearest woodlands for some fresh air and to spend some time together in nature, whatever the weather.
“Woods are real winter wonderlands – whether it’s a crisp, frosty morning or soggy afternoon, it’s great to take in the oxygen and embrace the chilly weather.
“If your family overindulges during the festive season, head out for an outdoor adventure; my top Woodland Trust walks are ideal places to burn off those extra mince pies!”
In winter, woods take on a whole new character. Spectacular, frosty landscapes and bare branches expose elusive wildlife and hidden history. And what’s more, all Woodland Trust woods are free to enter.
After a day of indulgence, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree on repeat and the children arguing about the PlayStation, Boxing Day is a great time to escape outdoors – and where better than the UK’s glorious woods?
The Woodland Trust has more than 1,000 woods which are free to enter and open all year round so come prepared for nature in its natural state. This means no toilets, cafés, bins or cleaning staff – just unmissable views, clean air, birdsong and woodland paths for you to wander along to your heart’s content.
Embrace nature and enjoy but also back our Love Your Woods campaign by playing your part and protecting woods and nature for the future with these top tips for your visit.
Stay on the paths
Take dog mess and litter home with you
Protect wildlife by keeping dogs close
Stay fire free
Leave sleepovers to the wildlife
Be considerate with den building
Park with consideration for others
Swimming is for wildlife only
Woods aren’t good for rock climbing which destroys precious habitats
Check access rules before cycling
So, dig out your wellies and woollies say goodbye to some of those extra Christmas calories and pay one – or more – of the following woods a visit:
Hucking Estate – Kent
Breathtaking views of the Kent Downs, ancient woodland to explore and swathes of open grassland where the kids can run off steam make Hucking a must-visit in the south east. Hucking Estate is full of archaeological features, even the pond is a former ironworking site. You might spot medieval wood banks or some of the chalk pits where the chalk was mined to fertilise fields.
Hucking Estate – Visiting Woods – Woodland Trust
Penn Wood – Buckinghamshire
Historic Penn Wood lies in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so it’s worth a visit any time of the year. Wolves and wild boar once roamed through the trees, but these days you’re best off trying to spot red kites, buzzards and tawny owls.
Penn Wood – Visiting Woods – Woodland Trust
Hainault Forest – London
Herds of majestic red deer roam this ancient hunting forest, which once provided venison for the King’s table, and its just 15 miles from central London. With 158 species of bird recorded, it’s a bird-lover’s dream.
Hainault Forest – Visiting Woods – Woodland Trust
With awe-inspiring views of Belfast and the coast, Carnmoney Hill is a must visit. Steeped in history and folklore with a mix of ancient woodland, grassland and wetland, it is home to a wealth of wildlife and has a wide range of walks to suit all abilities. With easy access from the city and plenty of interest for history buffs, Carnmoney Hill is a great destination for a day out.
Carnmoney Hill – Visiting Woods – Woodland Trust
Crinan Wood, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
With sweeping vistas across Loch Crinan to Duntrune Castle and the Argyll coastline, there are few woods with a more breathtaking outlook than Crinan Wood. This ancient Atlantic oakwood is a wonderful example of Scotland’s rare and special rainforest and is brimming with wildlife, including the iconic red squirrel. It’s definitely one of our must-see gems.
Woods – Visiting Woods – Woodland Trust
Tring Park – Hertfordshire
A 10-minute stroll from Tring’s famous Natural History Museum, there are lots of hidden treasures to find at Tring Park. Climb the hill for amazing views of Hertfordshire and the Chilterns.
Tring Park – Visiting Woods – Woodland Trust
Swineshead & Spanoak Woods – Kimbolton, Bedfordshire
Rich and diverse woodland that’s part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Green and great spotted woodpecker have both been recorded in the wood as has the crossbill, which was first recorded breeding in the wood in 1991.
Swineshead & Spanoak Woods – Woodland Trust
Tyrrels Wood – Pulham Market, Norfolk
Quiet and off the beaten track, Tyrrels Wood is a welcome spot for visitors and wildlife alike with a circular route winding past big veteran oak trees, hazel, ash, field maple birch and rowan.
Tyrrels Wood – Woodland Trust
Once part of the hunting grounds of Chepstow Castle, Wentwood offers walks with breathtaking views over the Severn Estuary. Its diversity of habitats means it is home to some wonderful wildlife. Make sure to visit the ancient Curley Oak while you’re there!
Woods – Visiting Woods – Woodland Trust
Credenhill Park Credenhill, Herefordshire
Credenhill Park Wood is a local landmark on an imposing wooded hill, topped by one of the largest Iron Age Hill forts in England and thought to have once been an Iron Age tribal capital.
The walk to the top, where you can revel in views to Wales, is well worth it and when trees are bare you’re more likely to spot woodpeckers tapping the trees.
Credenhill Park Wood – Visiting Woods – Woodland Trust
Avon Valley Woods, Devon
A hidden treasure in the rolling hills of South Hams, the Avon Valley Woods cluster along the valley side. Winter is a great time to spot a whole range of finches, blue tits and long tailed and great tits that tend to flock in large groups at this time of year. While the riverside walk can be muddy, the extensive path network at the top of the site offers grassy tracks and views across Devon.
Avon Valley Woods – Visiting Woods – Woodland Trust
Hedley Hall, Sunniside in the North East
A mix of ancient woodland cloaking the slopes of the narrow Ridley Gill, and newer broadleaf planting, Hedley Hall has plenty to keep walkers amused, including babbling streams, birds and woodland sculptures, all within a stone’s throw of the famous Beamish museum.
Hedley Hall – Visiting Woods – Woodland Trust
Nidd Gorge, North Yorkshire
Ancient broadleaf woodland covers the steep cliffs and slopes of Yorkshire’s Nidd Gorge, which is home to more than 80 species of bird and 30 different kinds of mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
Take a stroll through the crisp winter wonderland and keep your eye out for roe deer, tawny owls, herons and woodpeckers.
Nidd Gorge – Visiting Woods – Woodland Trust
Hackfall – Grewelthorpe, North Yorkshire
Set in a 350ft gorge along the River Ure on the edge of the village of Grewelthorpe this fragile ancient woodland habitat has been restored since the Woodland Trust took over. Stroll along footpaths and woodland walks and spot grottos and glades, temples and waterfalls as well as kingfisher, dipper and grey wagtail.
Hackfall – Visiting Woods – Woodland Trust