The Finest Forests of S-W England

tree tops of the finest forests of SW England

The finest forests of S-W England that made this personal top are those that offer a chance to hike, bike, recharge, connect with nature and re-learn how to listen to it.

What do you do when you go to a forest?

Do you set your imagination free while doing any of these activities and reflect on other times when our connection with nature was even more potent? Or do you think about the meaning of life; how we live and what remains behind when we move to where we came from?

Do you ask yourself if we had learnt what we were meant to when we arrived here or if we keep repeating the same mistakes from previous existences?

But most of all, do you enjoy being out, forgetting the stresses of day-to-day life, listening to birdsong, seeing and smelling a tree rather than a honking bus?

I aim for all of the above when I go forest hiking for kilometres on end, from spring to late autumn, to breathe fresh air, see nature transform, and forget about the harsh world around us.

I will make the text short on this occasion and let the images speak more about the simple act of forest hiking.

If you live in the region, you probably recognise many of these finest forests of S-W England. If you plan to visit the area, this post will hopefully inspire you to include a forest hike during your stay.

Enjoy reading down, and remember to go out whenever possible! Breathe, reflect, recharge!

Great Wood

Great Wood, The Quantox Hills

Located on Quantock Hills, minutes from Taunton and M5, Great Wood offers endless walking trails for all fitness levels. It is excellent for mountain biking too, with easy access and plenty of parking spaces. Families with children too young to hike can enjoy an outdoor barbeque at a large picnic clearing alongside the stream and the access dirt roads.

Nutcombe Bottom, Tall Trees Trail

Tall Tree Trail, Dunster Castle, on my list of the The finest forests of S-W England

Take this easily accessible trail to see the oldest and tallest trees in England, located close to Dunster Castle, out of Minehead. It takes less than an hour to see it and take pictures, but the forest does not end here. You can hike all you want, see Exmoor ponies.

Haddon Hill

Ponies on Haddon Hill

Haddon Hill is also part of Exmoor National Park, as the above forests. You have hours of hiking, biking or water sports opportunities around and on Wimbleball Lake (dam and wild ponies photo prospects included).

Stockhill Woods

Stockhill Woods the finest forests of SW England

Part of the Mendip Hills – home of the famous Cheddar Gorge (and cheese!), Wookey Hole Caves and Blagdon Lake – Stockhill Wood is a relatively recent patch of wood.

It is a fragrant pine forest, relatively small – reason enough to leave the beaten path and wander through the thicker vegetation without any fear of getting lost in the big dark wood! Forestry England planted it a few decades ago to decrease the pollution from lead mining activities.

Avalon Marshes

Avalon Marches, Somerset

Avalon Marshes is a wetland nature reserve situated alongside the drain that connects Glastonbury to the Bristol Channel. It is one of the best places in Somerset for bird watching; plus, it has a history dating back to the Neolithic.

Westonbirt Arboretum

Westonbirt Arboretum, my favourite of the The finest forests of S-W England
Westonbirt Arboretum
Westonbirt Arboretum

Paid entry to these woods is required, but it is worth all the money, especially if you visit in autumn, October-November. Westonbirt Arboretum becomes a symphony of colours that will remain with you long after leaving the site.

Forest of Dean

Forest of Dean

You can cross the bridge to Wales or drive north on the M5 to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. Also home of Puzzlewood, a famous film location for A list movies (Star Wars, Doctor Who, Jack the Giant Slayer to name a few), the Forest of Dean is an absolute must-visit for a variety of forest sculptures, mountain bike trails, endless hiking trails, Go Ape and so much more.

Bonus – Fine Forests of Wales

Coch Castkle
Fforest Fawr

If you are already planning to visit the finest forests of the S-W of England or are in the region, it is well worth a drive over the Bristol Channel to Wales.

If you head towards Cardiff, perhaps stop at Coch Castle and visit the woods around it called Fforest Fawr – my absolute favourite forest, no matter the season!

Explore Brecon Beacons National Park for a more extended trip, and don’t miss its beautiful waterfalls, such as Henrhyd Falls.

Henrhyd Falls

I hope you have a choice of woodland close to you and visit them often if only for clearing your mind and do some exercise. If you plan to visit S-W England, remember to include one of the above in your planning.

Helpful apps to use when roaming forests

Since we are so attached to the technology, you might find these two apps of use when you are in the middle of nowhere (provided there is signal coverage!)

AllTrails: Hike, Bike & Run is practical to find your whereabouts.

PlantNet Plant Identification is efficient for the kids to learn and differentiate between the tree and plant species.

What say you about the finest forests of S-W England?

If you have a preferred woodland that I have not included in this list, please mention it below in the comments. I might know about it or be interested in exploring it!

The Finest Forests of S-W England

The World Is An Oyster

Working as a journalist during university was pretty exciting. But landing a cruise ship job barely a year in my new graduate career was something else! Overnight, I moved from an already exhilarating job to an even better one. One that would allow me to wake up every morning in a different country. What more can a twenty-something wish for? The fact that I was fluent in a few languages helped. It made it easier to obtain the position I was seeking at the Shore Excursions department. Apart from dispatching tours in the morning and selling tickets in the evening, I would spend nearly every day on different trips. I did this a few years, spending half a year onboard and about two months at home. I enjoyed it immensely. I met fascinating people from all over the Globe and collected memories to last me a lifetime. Not to mention that I received a salary for seeing all those magnificent places the Earth has to offer! In an ideal world, everybody should live as they want. For me, that would translate into travel, then travel some more and keep travelling!

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27 Responses

  1. Byrne says:

    Thank you for your words that allowed me to vicariously experience the beauty of the finest forests in Southwest England. After going through your visuals and narrative, my spirits were uplifted, and I am grateful for your generous sharing.

    • I am so glad you enjoyed the read and thank you for your kind words! Weather permitting, hopefully you get to hike some of them. I am definitely missing the fresh air and looking forward to a break in the rain to reconnect with nature:)

  2. DeShena says:

    So many beautiful, scenic forests to see. It definitely feels good to step out into nature and take it all in. I like to clear my head and shut out the rest of the world for at least a short while. 🙂

  3. Awesome forest, I will check this out when going to the UK soon. It would be interesting to check it out!

  4. Lovely! You’ve got me dreaming of traveling again! Great post 🙂

  5. Paige says:

    These forest destinations look so beautiful and peaceful! I love the Forest of Dean and the Westonbirt Arboretum

  6. Vi-Zanne Ho says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I lived in England for a short period of time, but never got to explore the S-W section of it. It is beautiful there! It is my hope to be able to bring my kids there one day to explore the beauty and greatness of England.

  7. Daniel Ng says:

    My dream is to hike and explore all the forest of the world. I love your article.

  8. Joanna says:

    I am sure you’ve heard of the Japanese concept of forest bathing. Your post reminded me of it. I love how you remind us to listen to nature. I think so many of us forgot how to do it. The English woods look amazing btw.

    • Yes, I’ve heard of it and try to practice it every time I go hiking. The massive plus I forgot to mention in the post is that wildlife is pretty much non-aggressive on the island. There is no need to watch over your shoulder for a big black bear or a sneaky wolf, so it is pretty easy to just let go and enjoy the beauty and healing power of any forest around here!

      • Joanna says:

        I envy you for having amazing nature so close by. Here in California we have lots of great nature too but the distances are so huge, it’s impossible to visit the Yosemite park just to n a weekend. You have to make it as a planned trip. So my forest bathing is mostly beach bathing (without stepping into the freezing Pacific Ocean)

  9. Each of these places look so lovely to visit. Thank you so much for sharing. 😊

    Pastor Natalie (ExamineThisMoment)

  10. Victoria says:

    Incredible pics! I would love to visit this beautiful destination one day! Thanks for all the useful information!

  11. Jeannie says:

    so peaceful and relaxing, I always love the countryside I can see myself running in the woods here.

  12. Nikole Stone says:

    I never knew I thought about such deep things when I go hiking. Very interesting how the woods can bring those thoughts out. Awesome pictures, I love the castle!! Absolutely stunning!

    • Coch Castles is pretty, and the surrounding woods are fabulous. A few years ago, my kid found a large (-ish) stick to use as a walking stick. The stick is safely placed behind a large tree at the end of the hiking day. Every time we go back, the stick is still there, waiting to be used. It’s been a few years now:)

  13. Jenn says:

    Beautiful. I didn’t realize how pretty the forests of England are! Love your pony and mushroom pictures!

  14. I recognized the forest of Dean from the Harry Potter movies. All these forests look like the perfect place for an adventure.

    • It is incredible how one can spend a whole day hiking these places and still have uncovered corners to discover next time! Forest of Dean is pretty iconic. Very diverse, too. We are looking for roof bars for bikes to explore those trails soon. There are miles of them.

  15. Jeanine says:

    I think I want to see them ALL I love forests nearly as much as a beach, the smell of earth dry or damp the sound of water crashing from a waterfall or an unexplained carving/painting or structure. They are one of my happy places… thank you for sharing

  16. All those places look like they come straight from a fairytale. My favorites are Haddon Hill and Fine Forests of Wales. I hope I’ll be able to visit them someday. Thank you for this virtual travel 🙂

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