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WELLBEING | Why Forests are Fantastic

Whether its sauntering along whilst the autumn leaves crunch beneath your footsteps or early Spring as birdsong battles follow you from tree to tree, it reminds me every time that forests or woods are fantastic. It is an easy free resource for all to use. To get muddy, to get lost and to pretend for a while that the world is really simple.

Trees are the sleeping old folk of these places; the crotchety Entish figures from Tolkien's dreams. Fashion dictates that Japanese 'tree-bathing' could make its way to British shores but it many ways that name supersedes what has gone before. That for most who were able, who knew - that hiking, walking the dog, mountain-biking, or just getting lost in an environment of trees and green is good for the soul. Brits need no tips from the east there.

By night and day, the world turns in slow movement. A simple disregard to all else. Sunlight, rain, insects, birds and small mammals live in this world. It is us who engage with it and then leave again.

Woodland offers us a chance to see birds and animals, to encounter deer grazing in the tall grass, the boar rooting amongst the vegetation and once we look under logs - a myriad of insects and invertebrates.

The simplest of observational tasks make a walk into a mystery - the wonder of tree identification from leaves (a secret ID which only the few know) or listening with eyes shut to the soundtrack of the wild.

What can you hear?

You may whisper to little ones or older ones? Birdsong? Bees? The wind? Trees? Woodland fairies?

Then there is the forest are night. Where the day-shift go to sleep, and the night shift comes on. A torch in hand. A midnight snack. A warm pair of gloves. And maybe a glance towards the night sky to see illuminations of a different kind, from a different time. The stars which have lit up the skies for an age or more. Those Dark Sky areas offer more for those who are so enthused.

But for me, it is a simple statement. Forests represent a freedom, for a few minutes or a while, under canvas or under brolly. Of fresh air, of earnest intrigue and innocent delights. A forest of adventures.