Travel Here’s looking at yew: the Borrowdale trees

The continuous ridge of russet, stone-strewn lakeland mountain encircles a valley floor as flat as a paddy field. Lights of farms are beginning to spark and the cries of tawny owls reverberate around the bowl of darkening fells. In the distance, sunset pinks the snow-dusted peak of Glaramara. It is a suitable stage to approach the most notable trees of northern England.

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Sweet birdsong that's like blossom in sound

The cottage looks out over a wide sea loch and across to the mountains in the distance. When we arrived, all the hills were hidden in cloud, but towards evening the banks of grey started to lift and first Blaven appeared, a peak as bulky as a prize bull, and then, in the sunset, the Cuillin ridge itself – a great jagged sawblade lit from behind by a blast of yellow light which slanted down onto the loch and turned the flickering waters to gold.

The Secret History Of: The PH Artichoke

I t has not escaped Secret History's notice that there's a certain fascination with all things Danish at the moment – the jumpers, The Killing, the interior design (that's Lego for the small ones). So we bring you this week... the Artichoke Lamp.

You'll catch your breath at these West Country views

Walk Of The Month

You can almost hear the corks pop in these woods

Walk Of The Month - The Forest of Dean: The historic border area has seen off yet another invasive threat, says Mark Rowe

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: The small-leaved lime, lost tree of England

Some myths are so tenacious as to be virtually unshakeable, and one such is that the national tree of England is the oak. There is no Act of Parliament proclaiming Quercus robur to be an official symbol of Englishness, but there doesn't need to be, with a belief which has such deep roots in Middle England's psyche that David Cameron's Conservative Party ditched Margaret Thatcher's red, white and blue "torch of freedom" in favour of an oak tree as the new Tory emblem (although I notice that these days they tend to fill in the tree's outline with the Union Jack, just in case anyone doesn't get the point. Didn't Dr Johnson say that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel?).

One down, eight to go as velodrome opens

Gold medallist Chris Hoy hails pace of track after first 2012 venue is completed 521 days before the Games

Philip Hensher: Deep in the enchanted forest, a very English sensibility has stirred

Forests are places of dapplement, of light and shade. At the back of everything is Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, turning the social hierarchy upside down

We got it wrong on forests, says Spelman

The Government was forced into a humiliating U-turn today as it scrapped controversial plans to privatise England's public forests.

Leading article: Can you see the wood for the trees?

The Independent today announces a competition for the best essay on "The Future of England's Forests". With the Government in spectacular disarray, as we report today, over the partial sell-off it broached last month, we are confident that our readers can do much, much better.

Forest sell-off 'threatens rare wildlife'

Concerns have been raised over the fate of threatened wildlife such as red squirrels and nightjars in woods which could be sold to private companies under Government plans.

Letters: Alternative Vote

Why we should vote down AV

Paul Octavious: Thrill of the hill

A field of swaying lavender in Provence; a hammock slung between two palm trees in the Caribbean – dream destinations for some, perhaps, but not the Chicago-based photographer Paul Octavious.

Take a turn around the magic circle

Walk Of The Month: The Somerset Levels - This county, on a sunny winter's day, offers great scenery and stunning wildlife, says Mark Rowe

Paul Vallely: Stealing the common off the goose?

The proposed sale of woodlands is making rebels of us all. Forests are part of our folk memory

Almighty pod: Skye Gyngell cooks with cardamom

More potent than its size suggests, the tiny cardamom is equally good in sweet and savoury dishes. And, says Skye Gyngell, its aniseedy flavour is utterly irresistible
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn