Enjoy a woodland walk
Take a stroll through the woods this autumn
Even the least spiritual rambler cannot fail to be moved in the presence of trees more than 400 years old in an ancient woodland. Shrunken over the centuries, the trees' height is no indicator of their age, but it's the girth that betrays the length of their life. Most iconic is the oak, which flaunts the largest circumference, but even a silver birch can prove ancient with a far slimmer waist. Let their size diminish you as you take equally old paths between them, your tread rendered almost mute by the deep litter of leaves.
Or venture into a young plantation where new generations of promising slim saplings can't fail to lift the spirits. Woodlands, whether broadleaf or coniferous, ancient or modern, have their own magical character, enveloping you as you explore along paths and catch glimpses of their wild inhabitants from dormice to deer.
Country Living Magazine's Charity of the Year, the Woodland Trust, features 14 walks around woods across Britain, from North Yorkshire to Gwynedd. See its website for the routes.
The conservation charity also has an interactive map on its website where you can find your nearest WT site - simply type in your postcode and discover a wonderful woodland in your area.
Enjoy England has a collection of inspiring autumnal walks on its website, many of which include woodlands, as well as other landscapes that are spectacular during the season such as the National Trust's house and gardens at Stourhead in Wiltshire, and Symonds Yat, in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
The Forestry Commission also has a walk finder that allows you to search for forests and walks all over Britain.
Always follow The Countryside Code when out and about - click here.
If you can't get out and about in the woods this autumn, try these books for a little virtual travelling.
'A Walk in the Woods: Exploring Britain's Great woodland' by Archie Miles (Frances Lincoln, £25) is an evocative celebration of the diversity of our woods, in association with the Woodland Trust.
'Wildwood' by Roger Deakin (Hamish Hamilton, £9.99). The late writer and CL contributor explores the ‘fifth element' of wood as it exists in nature, in our culture and our lives.
'The Tree House Diaries' by Nick Weston (Collins & Brown, £16.99) is a fascinating account by a man who lives up a tree and off the land in Sussex woodlands for six months to pursue a cheaper, more self-sufficient lifestyle.
'A Year in the Woods' by Colin Elford (Hamish Hamilton, £14.99) follows a forest ranger about his work through the seasons, alone but for the wildlife inhabiting the woods he loves.
Plant a tree
Country Living magazine has a 10-year-old grove in The Woodland Trust's Hucking Wood. As it proves, tiny saplings quickly become woodland, offering a home for wildlife, a place where children can play, adults reflect, and communities come together.
But to achieve this we need to plant more trees, a lot more. Native-tree planting has fallen to six million a year and the Woodland Trust calculates we need to be planting 20 million to benefit people, wildlife and the environment.
For more information about tree planting possibilities with the Woodland Trust and its More Trees, More Good campaign, visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk.
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