The forests in England and woodlands provide the ideal atmosphere for a day out in the country, whether you’re searching for an enchanted autumn walk, a cool summer promenade, or a winter saunter.
1. Popular Forests in England to Explore
You can experience breathtaking scenery when cycling, hiking, or walking amid the trees in forests in England.
See our ranking of the biggest & best forests in England by reading on.
1.1. The New Forest
One of the greatest remaining areas of grazing land, heathland, and forest in southern England is the New Forest, which was established as William the Conqueror’s hunting ground and mentioned in the Domesday Book.
The New Forest, the second-largest woodland in England, offers a variety of family-friendly activities. This is a must-see regardless of whether you prefer taking walks, riding a bike, or seeing local towns, and is one of the most famous forests in England.
The New Forest is 219 square miles in size and about 90 minutes by rail from London. You can find common British birds and reptiles, including the wood warbler and grass snake, among the moist heaths, bogs, and forests.
Be sure to catch sight of the famed ponies, which have priority over car traffic and number 5,000, as they can be seen freely grazing along the forest pathways.
There are many places to stay and eat while visiting the area because it is littered with picturesque “Vicar of Dibley“-style villages like Lymington, Hordle, Brockenhurst, and Beaulieu.
1.2. Gwydir Forests
Gwydir is a region replete with lakes, mountains, and entrancing landscapes.
It’s simple to become lost in its forested canopies full of tree roots coated in moss, boulders covered in lichen, dense carpets of climbing plants, and little brooks gurgling from jagged rocks and is one of the most famous forests in England.
Indulge in the myths and legends that this area is filled with, such as the Robin Hood-like character Dafydd ap Siencyn, tales about a dragon that lives in the forest by the name of Garog, whose name is given to an ancient Roman route that you can follow through the forest.
1.3. Grizedale Forest
Among the famous forests in England, the 8,000-acre Grizedale Forest, a masterpiece of mixed forest tucked away in the heart of the Lake District, undulates across the rugged hills between Coniston Water & Windermere.
A well-known sculpture path may be found there in addition to soaring trees, breathtaking vistas like Carron Crag, and countless fern-fringed trails that meander by bubbling streams and tarns.
The charming sculptures are all built of natural materials and were among the nation’s first woodland sculpture trails. Watch out for “Lady of the Sea” by Allanah Robbin and “17 Degrees South” by Linda Watson.
Moreover, keep a close eye out for fallow deer because this forest is home to England’s last remaining native woodland herd.
Everyone can enjoy an unforgettable day out at Grizedale Forest, located in the centre of the Lake District World Heritage Site. Discover everything Grizedale offers, including breathtaking scenery, exquisite artwork, and infinite woodland trails.
Is one day not sufficient? Stay a while at the nearby cottage or the neighbourhood’s family-run campsite to extend your forest excursion.
1.4. Ashdown Forest
Ashdown Forest may remind you of somewhere else because AA Milne drew inspiration for his Winnie-the-Pooh stories there and comes from the famous forests in England.
The Sussex landscape may be seen in some rather amazing ways from this location in the High Weald Region of exceptional natural beauty, which is also home to a large variety of plants and fauna.
The website of Ashdown Forest offers two Winnie-the-Pooh walks that can be downloaded.
Both have attractions from well-known bear stories, including Lone Pine, Roo’s Sandy Pit, and a wooden bridge made out of Pooh Sticks where you can play your own game. Simply watch out for Heffalumps.
1.5. Hainault Forest
One of the famous forests in England, the 336-acre Hainault Forest Country Park is one of the last remaining pieces of the Forest of Essex, a historic hunting area and one of the best-preserved examples of medieval woods.
The unusual singing of nightingales has indeed been heard here, and you can spot a variety of animals and plants as you stroll through the lovely foliage during the summer, you can see butterflies and turtle doves.
Visit in the spring to view a cobalt carpet of blossoms, and for the perfect day out, don’t forget to stop by the lake and petting zoo.
1.6. Forest of Dean
This patch of ancient woodland, Forest of Dean, sandwiched between the Rivers Severn & Wye like a tiny island, contains 20 million trees, free-ranging boar, and picture-postcard settlements and is among the most famous forests in England.
The environment has altered significantly over time, but remnants of the woodland’s previous uses as a coal mine site and a source of wood for Tudor warships can still be seen strewn about. Currently, it is abundant with unusual plants and creatures.
Create a sculpture path through the forest to explore the works made of wood, stone, and stained glass that are suspended from the trees.
You may also visit Puzzlewood, which served as the model for Tolkien’s Middle-earth, and explore its decrepit wooden tunnels, bridges, and paths covered in thick moss.
1.7. Sherwood Forest
Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire is one of those well-known old royal hunting forests, and this particular grove of weathered trees is famous for having been the old haunt of Robin Hood; certainly one of the most famous forests in England.
Most of the trees in the forest have been present for more than 500 years, along with the fabled Major Oak, which is thought to be over 1,000 years old. As a result, the woodland has mostly remained untouched since the days of merry men and men in green tights.
It now serves as a National Natural Reserve and is home to unusual mammals, fungi, birds, insects, and trees, including the largest stand of ancient oaks in all of Europe.
Be on the lookout for alien-looking mushrooms or bright red cardinal beetles on the bark of downed trees.
Visit the Budby Reserve to listen to the nightjar’s characteristic churring call, or take a guided bat or glo worm walks through the forest after dusk.
Make a weekend of it by extending your stay and refuelling at one of the old Edwinstowe or other nearby villages that are situated on the edge of the forest.
1.8. Ashridge Estate
Ashridge Estate woodland seems like something out of a fairy tale, with twisting trees sticking out of the ground like aged fingers, winding mossy verges, and vibrant carpets of wildflowers and is one of the most well-known forests in England.
In reality, it appeared as an enchanted woodland in the Disney movies “Into the Woods” and “Maleficent.” Its historic beech & oak woodlands are best explored on foot, and miles of bridleways and trails wind through the forest.
Break the charm on the broad commons and towering chalk downlands of the adjacent Chiltern Hills if you’re beginning to feel a touch enchanted.
1.9. Loch Ard Forest
The vast Loch Ard Forest is a magnificent collection of trees that stretches from the charming settlement of Aberfoyle to the rough hills next to Loch Lomond, concealing both man-made and natural beauties.
Among the popular forests in England, roe deer, otters, red squirrels, water voles that have been restored, and osprey are among the few animal species that call its engulfing conifers and ancient oaks home.
Explore the many forest trails to try and locate Loch Ard, a sparkling body of fresh water that is ideal for water sports, including kayaking & wild swimming, due to its sheltered location.
Keep an eye out for the exquisite sculptures created by local artist & environmentalist Rob Mulholland and placed throughout the trees.
A wonderful place for wild camping is in Loch Ard’s protected woodland if you want to extend your stay. With sculpture pathways and hidden play areas, the gently rolling roads around Loch Ard are ideal for biking and provide hours of family-friendly entertainment.
1.10. Epping Forest
If you ever make it up to Zone 4 in northeast London, you will see a looming line of trees on the horizon.
More than 100 lakes & ponds are scattered throughout the lovely expanse of old-growth native woods.
There are walking paths marked throughout the region, and cycling and horseback riding are likewise allowed. Regular activities are held at four forest centres to assist guests of all ages, and they are one of the most famous forests in England.
Stroll along the Oak Trail, which leads to the more remote northern regions of the woodland where gnarled beeches have developed enormous crowns, and crosses the M25.
Horseback riding & cycling are both allowed, and there are marked walking pathways throughout the area.
The tradition has it that Boudicca fought the Romans here. You also cross a deer sanctuary & Iron Age earthworks. It’s a truly beautiful ramble.
Regular activities are held at four forest centres to aid guests of all ages in enjoying the forest, & Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge provides more context to the region’s history.
1.11. Hatfield Forest
Ready for a scene change? How about going back in time? The best-surviving example of a nearly full royal hunting forest in Britain is Hatfield Forest in Essex, which has undergone little modification in the last 1,000 years.
It is renowned for its gnarled old trees, several of which have remained standing tall for hundreds of years and are referred to by the locals as “living sculptures.”
A fishing lake, trails for riding horses and bicycles, herds of fallow deer, uncommon woodland species, and the ruins of a “pleasure ground” that was partially created by renowned landscape architect Capability Brown are all there.
The lowlands surrounding Hatfield Forest will become yellow between May and June when more than 300 million buttercups bloom.
Also, there is a sizable lake where you may go rowing or enjoy the ducks & swans. Nearby, a charming house from 1757 is decorated with colourful shells and flint from many parts of the world.
The owner’s adolescent daughter created it and is a beautiful example of an 18th-century style that no modern estate would recognize without a shell house or grotto next to it.
Among the famous forests in England, Hatfield Forest is relatively close to Stansted Airport and is bordered by cosy flats and apartments, allowing you to set up camp right outside the door without giving up modern conveniences.
1.12. Thetford Forest
Thetford Forest stands apart from the majority of the forests on this list due to its odd history.
Thetford Forest is the opposite of most of these woodlands, which are the surviving fragments of the vast old forests that formerly covered most of the UK & have been preserved overall chances and is one of the most popular forests in England.
In truth, this is the biggest artificial lowland forest in the nation. It was established in the 1920s to enhance the country’s timber supply in the wake of World War One.
Being classified as a Special Scientific Interest Site, the area is covered in tall pine trees that give it the appearance of being in a Hans Christian Andersen novel.
1.13. Swinley Forest
Swinley Forest offers activities for all ages, whether you’re searching for a tranquil stroll, a thrilling mountain bike adventure, or family fun. There are many things to do in this area, which spans 2600 acres from Bracknell to Crowthorne.
Bring your little ones towards the play area where there is an infant, junior, and inclusive play space so that everyone may participate.
Consider having a picnic under the trees or stopping by the Woodlarks Café for coffee & pastries. After a day of riding or walking, it’s the ideal place to rest.
Among the famous forests in England, the Crown Estate owns and operates Swinley Forest, which spans 2,600 acres of rolling hills between Bracknell and Crowthorne.
The Look Out serves as a popular starting point for guests who enjoy exploring the forest. The Look Out is frequently used as a launching point for excursions into the surrounding area by tourists who enjoy the forest.
Did you know that Swinley Forest served as the backdrop for numerous sequences in Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Parts I and II? All you Potterheads will love this!
Around the beginning of 1066, King Harold controlled this ancient royal hunting woodland on the boundary of Essex; nevertheless, after his victorious conquest, William the Conqueror quickly took possession of it.
Throughout World War II, the forest was utilized to store ammunition, and remnants of the conflict may still be seen sticking out of the ground.
1.14. Delamere Forest Park
Delamere Forest provides 1,098 hectares of tranquil woodland amidst Cheshire’s structures and cities, and it is reachable via its train station.
Delamere is the ideal location for those of you who want to be active and are always looking for new things to do, as well as those of you who prefer peace.
The forest offers walking and hiking pathways for people of all skill levels. The sandstone walls are smooth underfoot, and on a hot day, the trees offer shade. You may even pause for an informal picnic.
One of the most famous forests in England, the Cheshire Plain Delamere Forest, southwest of Manchester, is a shaded oasis in the middle of an agricultural environment.
It’s a place to let off steam, get away from the crowds, and enjoy tranquillity in the middle of the forest.
1.15. Wyre Forest National Park
While being smaller (1,455 hectares), Wyre Forest is England’s largest woodland National Natural Reserve. This provides a respite from the rush of your hectic lifestyle and is located just west of Birmingham.
Wyre Forest Nature Reserve has a wide variety of walking pathways. Everyone can benefit from walking, whether it be Nordic walking or sensory treks that help you connect with nature.
You’ve earned it after all the walking, so don’t delay stopping in the café for a delicious hot dinner!
Natural England and Forestry England are in charge of managing the forest, which includes Worcestershire Wildlife Fund territory and spans the boundary between Worcestershire and Shropshire.
The nation’s woods are essential for combating climate change & biodiversity loss, as well as serving as a supply of locally grown, sustainable wood, a means of carbon sequestration, and recreational areas.
This acknowledges the significance of properly managing forests so they have long-term advantages for species, people, and the climate.
2. Final Note
Just slightly more than one-eighth of the UK’s total land area is made up of forests and woodlands. They serve as homes for a variety of creatures and contribute to keeping the air around us in balance.
You are expected to move more slowly, be quieter, be still, and pay attention to the trees’ ancient wisdom while in the woods.
In nature, age is important because it promotes continuity. In nature, continuity is important because it supports stable ecosystems. In nature, stable ecosystems are important because they maximize opportunities.