The leaves are turning and it’s the perfect time for a woodland weekend away, a half-term break with the kids in the forest or a walking holiday treat with your dog. The UK has a wealth of beautiful woodland to explore from the dog friendly and family friendly woodland walks and cycle trails in the New Forest to great Yorkshire forest cycling hotspots like Dalby Forest in the south of the North York Moors. The rich autumnal colours of Britain’s forests as the leaves turn is a sight to behold. Here’s some of our ideas and suggestions on where to head for your Forest break this autumn, whether you’re looking for a luxury woodland retreat or a cycling and walking weekend challenge.
New Forest National Park, Hampshire
October and November are a great time for a short break in Hampshire’s New Forest National Park! Watch the leaves turn, spot the New Forest ponies and explore miles of woodland and heathland walking and cycling trails. The Forest hosts a walking festival through the second half of October into the beginning of November, with most of the guided walks in the festival accessible by public transport. Some even have a free mini bus service! There’s some great deals too on New Forest off peak short breaks – browse accommodation choice below, and have you heard … the New Forest is one of England’s top Forest holidays with dogs and horses too!
Grizedale/Whinlatter, Lake District National Park
See the leaves change on two wheels or two feet, and experience the best of the Lake District’s walking and cycling forest trails at Grizedale Forest near Hawkshead and Whinlatter, England’s great mountain forest near Keswick. Both these family friendly forest parks have lots of great facilities including bike hire, family cafes and a choice of gentle and challenging trails. Grizedale also has a Go Ape treetops adventure experience. Around Grizedale and Whinlatter you’ll find a variety of accommodation to suit all. Stay in a romantic 4 Star Ambleside B&B or a cosy dog friendly cottage in Elterwater within easy reach of Grizedale. B&Bs, inns and cottages in the Hawkshead and Coniston areas are all ideal for Grizedale. Or stay around capital of the Northern fells Keswick which is ideally close to Whinlatter Forest. Keswick has a huge choice of quality B&B guest houses, cottages, restaurants and a great independent shopping scene!
Dalby Forest, North York Moors, Yorkshire
Head to the home of the Tour de France in Britain – the county of Yorkshire where you’ll find more best forest parks for cycling and walking. Dalby Forest on the southern edge of the North York Moors near Pickering is a particular favourite with cyclists and features amazing bike trails to suit all! You can also hire electric bikes. Dalby has hosted numerous cycling competitions and you’ll find an excellent choice of friendly B&Bs, old inns with rooms serving local ales, Grade Listed cottages and self-catering farmhouses in the area all just a few minutes from Dalby.
Kielder Forest Park, Northumberland, North East
See not just the leaves turning but also some of the best starry dark sky views in the country. Kielder Water & Forest Park in the wider Northumberland National Park is one of the UK’s ‘Dark Skies Parks’. The Forest contains a huge network of off-road family friendly cycling and walking trails. Bike hire is available and Kielder has some fantastic Scandinavian style holiday lodges and cottages, most of which are dog friendly.
Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland
By day feel the cycling burn and watch the leaves turn, and by night be dazzled by starry skies at Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries & Galloway, Southwest Scotland. This popular family friendly forest is great for cycling holidays and another of Britain’s Dark Skies parks. It’s affectionately known as the ‘highlands of the lowlands’, and is home to 2 of the famous 7stanes mountain bike trails. The 7stanes are renowned as some of the world’s best off road mountain bike trails. Gentle forest cycling and walking trails are here too along with visitor centres, beautiful woodland walks like the Cally Woods walk and bike hire is widely available.
Dumfries & Galloway in Scotland’s South West is brimming with pretty cottages perfect for families, couples and activity holidays with dogs. Around the Forest park in popular bases like Newton Stewart you’ll find some wonderful country house hotels and holiday lodge parks. Browse accommodation below and start planning your Forest getaway.
Golitha Falls & Cardinham Forest, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall
A hidden gem wooded valley in Cornwall’s Bodmin Moor, Golitha Falls is cut through by the River Fowey and contains several breathtaking cascades of water. A fantastic woodland weekend retreat, and dog friendly, Golitha Falls has well marked trails and adjacent car parks which makes it easy to access this woodland paradise. The far south of Bodmin Moor around St Neot, St Cleer and Cardinham is famous for its beautiful woodland valleys – four legged furry friends will adore the area. You’ll find plenty of pet friendly B&Bs, cottages and old inns with rooms in the Bodmin town and Cardinham areas affording easy access to woodland trails.
Thetford Forest, Norfolk
Ever wondered where Britain’s largest low lying pine forest is located? You’ll find it in Norfolk and Suffolk. The Brecks cover a huge area of 370 square miles, and at their heart sits outdoor activity playground Thetford Forest Park, a top spot for family cycling trails. Hire bikes at the High Lodge Forest Centre and off you go on one of several forest bike trails branching out from the centre. Or head up into the trees on the Go Ape challenge. Thetford Forest is also home to some of the UK’s oldest mines. A trip down Grimes Graves Neolithic flint mine just off the A134 near Lynford is not to be missed. Quality B&Bs, heritage hotels, cottages and small, family run hotels are all widely available around Thetford Forest villages and the ancient market town of Thetford.
Winnie the Pooh’s Ashdown Forest, Sussex
For a really relaxing woodland getaway stay around Ashdown Forest in the heart of the East Sussex High Weald AONB. A deer hunting forest under the Normans, Ashdown today is one of Sussex’s great outdoor spaces. The Forest has famous connections to the author AA Milne who created the fictional character of Winnie-the-Pooh. Find out more at the central Forest Centre at Wych Cross just off the A22 and take a woodland walk to Pooh Sticks Bridge which is easily reached from car parks including Gills Lap and Piglets car park. Accommodation in the area perfect for a woodland escape includes beautiful self-catering barn conversions and charming historic hotels around Forest Row.
Afan Forest Park, Neath near Port Talbot, South Wales
Best forest parks for family cycling and scenic woodland strolls don’t come much better than Afan Forest Park in Neath near Port Talbot, South Wales. There are six brilliant mountain bike trails here along with a low level cycle route and 14 marked circular walks. The bird rich Afan Woodland Walk, a relaxing 1.5 mile (1 hour) walk takes in the ruins of Argoed Farm. There are newly built, family friendly hotels right on the edge of Afan Forest Park or book a stay in one of the many country cottages available in the Neath Valley.