Nine fantastic destinations for forest holidays from Poland to Cumbria and Sweden
We all know deep down what a difference trees can make. This is why the Mail’s Be A Tree Angel campaign encourages readers to re-green Britain and plant them to really make a difference to our very troubled world.
And while millions of us flock to the beach to relax, others discover the unique joy of waking up in the company of trees.
They are balm for the soul and give meaning to what President Franklin D. Roosevelt said about “forests are the lungs of our land, they purify the air and give strength to our people.” So where as a tourist can you experience some of the most magical forests in the world? Here these are just some of the most fantastic forest holidays in the world…
THE CROY FOREST OF THE DARKEST POLAND
The Gryfino forest in Poland, where each of the 400 pines has a large 90-degree hook at the base
Setting foot on the wet ground in Gryfino Forest is like stepping into a Tim Burton movie where nature has gone awry. Each of the 400 pines here has a large 90-degree hook at the base, making them one of the strangest forest sights in Europe.
VIEW OF THE UPPER TREE: Visit at dusk, when the forest is most haunted, and speculate how this strange forest came to be (our money is on aliens).
BOOK: Rooms at the Radisson Blu hotel in nearby Szczecin cost from around £65, radissonhotels.com. Ryanair flies direct to Szczecin from £82, ryanair.com.
CRAZY SCULPTURES OF ANCIENT CUMBRIA
An ancient forest sandwiched between Windermere and Coniston in the Lake District, Grizedale has sculptures – including a recent work by Yoko Ono – placed in its natural clearings since 1977, forestry schools and stargazing.
VIEW OF THE UPPER TREE: The only native red deer in England live here.
BOOK: A double at the boutique Swan Hotel, eight miles away, starts at £110. Call 015395 31681 or visit swanhotel.com.
FLOATING RE-TREE-T IN ARCTIC SWEDEN
Treehotel is located 49 km from the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland. It has seven individual whereabouts, including the UFO, pictured here
One of the other properties on the branch in Treehotel. All the places to stay here are about ten meters above the ground
Taking immersion to the next level is Treehotel, 30 miles from the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland. This futuristic-looking branch-height property has seven individual accommodations, including a ‘nest’, ‘mirror cube’ and ‘UFO’ – all of which hover about ten meters off the ground.
VIEW OF THE UPPER TREE: A twilight snowmobile tour through the Lule River Valley gives you the opportunity to get up close to the Northern Lights.
BOOK: A one night stay at UFO at Treehotel is £383. Call +46 (0)928-10300 or visit us treehotel.se. Norwegian flies to nearby Lulea, via Stockholm, from around £160, norwegian.com.
LOOKING AT THE SKY IN QUIET SCOTLAND
Reelig Glen Wood, pictured, a steep-sided gorge west of Inverness. It is home to centuries-old British Douglas fir
The British Douglas fir has a silent, sky-high competition; these centuries-old natural skyscrapers creak higher and higher. The current tallest, 220-metre giant, is in Gwydyr Forest in Wales, but there are plenty of tall trees in Scotland. Head to Reelig Glen Wood, a steep gorge west of Inverness, to see the mightiest of them all.
VIEW OF THE UPPER TREE: Dughall Mor, meaning “Big Stranger”, is a Douglas fir in Reelig Glen that grows over 196 feet.
FOREST RETREAT: The Achnagairn Estate country house offers double rooms from £100. Call 01463 831 878 or visit perfectmanors.com.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY TRIPS TO THE FOREST, UK
Forest Holidays offers family-friendly treehouses – cozy log cabins with fireplaces and hot tubs – in the picturesque forests of Britain. Pictured is a tree house in Cornwall
An unassuming alternative to Center Parcs, Forest Holidays offers family-friendly treehouses – cozy log cabins with fireplaces and hot tubs – in Britain’s scenic woodlands including Sherwood and Forest of Dean with an emphasis on nature outside the front door. Also great for groups of friends.
THE HIGHEST TREES: Take a forester’s course – make nettles, build fires and look for food.
BOOK: Three-day weekends in January cost from £555, based on four people sharing a two-bedroom cabin. Call Forest Holidays on 03330 110 495 or visit forestholidays.co.uk.
CARPET OF BELGIUM IN DIAMOND BLUE
Pictured here, Hallerbos is 1,360 acres of forest less than an hour south of Brussels. As winter bids farewell, a spectacular deep purple carpet emerges and thousands of bells ring in Belgian spring
As winter bids farewell, Hallerbos, 1,360 acres of forest less than an hour south of Brussels, marks the changing of the seasonal guard, laying out a spectacular deep purple carpet as thousands of bells chime the Belgian spring.
THE HIGHEST TREES: Hallerbos is most photogenic when the young beech trees are in bloom – usually in April – creating a dazzling green contrast with the cornflower blue below them.
BOOK: A double room in a pretty B&B Gusto, two miles from the woods, from £70. visit gustobnb.be. Return tickets from London to Brussels on Eurostar from around £60, eurostar.com.
AGED TREE DEVON SKY
The oaks on the northern fringes of Dartmoor have been overtaken by unnatural conifers over time. Pictured is a copse at Dartmoor
Mighty Iron Age oaks once reigned in the 825-acre Fingle Forest on the northern outskirts of Dartmoor, but over time they have been taken over by unnatural conifers. Visitors are now privy to the inspiring resurgence of the oaks – thanks to the National Trust and the Woodland Trust – although a full recovery is expected to take 200 years.
VIEW OF THE UPPER TREE: Fort Wooston Castle offers great views of the woods and the opportunity to spy on Drogo Castle, the last castle built in England.
BOOK: Five-star accommodation at Bovey Castle with double beds from £164. Call 01647 445000 or visit boveycastle.com.
CALIFORNIA’S SEQUEO GOLIATS
To find some of the tallest – and oldest – sequoias in California’s Pacific Northwest, head to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, pictured
A trek among the redwoods of California’s Pacific Northwest Coast is the entrance to a geological time machine stretching back two millennia. Find some of the tallest – and oldest – in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the backdrop to the original Star Wars movie.
VIEW OF THE UPPER TREE: Get behind the wheel; The scenic Howland Hill Road meanders for 11 miles through the most remote parts of Jedediah Park.
BOOK: Rooms at the nearby historic Trees Motel (moteltrees.com) from £63. Fly to the nearest airport, San Francisco, with United Airlines from £288, united.com.
A GREAT FEAST IN THE BLACK FOREST
The Black Forest is the quietest of short breaks. The photo shows the Edelfrauengrab waterfalls near Oppenau
The undisputed champion of Germany’s tourist offer, the Black Forest offers green meadows, deep valleys and beautiful forests that are said to have inspired the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. Add to that quaint, wooded villages where you can find comfort food, and the Black Forest provides the quietest of short breaks.
THE HIGHEST TREES: Hike through a pristine coniferous forest in the outdoor wonderland that is the Black Forest National Park, near the spa town of Baden-Baden.
BOOK: Double rooms at the luxury spa hotel Brenners Park-Hotel in Baden-Baden start at £290. visit oetkercollection.com. The Black Forest is less than six hours from London by train. Return tickets from around £200. See raileurope.co.uk.
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