Summer days out: Woods and Countryside

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The Independent Travel

1. Aberdulais Falls, Neath

Waterfalls here drove industry for more than 400 years, and special lifts give excellent views. Open: Sat, 10am; Sun, 11am. £3.20; child, £1.60; family (two plus three), £8. (01639 636674).

2. Alice Holt Woodland Park, near Farnham, Surrey

Famous for oaks which once supplied timber for the Royal Navy's ships. Good cycle ways, picnic spots and walks. Open: daily, 7.30am. (01420 23666).

3. Allen Banks and Staward Gorge, Hexham, Northumberland

Miles of walks through ornamental and ancient woodland, plus the remains of a medieval tower in Staward Wood. (01434 344218).

4. Bedgebury National Pinetum, Bedgebury, Kent

Finest collection of conifers on one site in the world. Founded by the Forestry Commission and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

Entrance on the B2079, accessible from Goudhurst or off the A21. (01580 211044).

5. Bishop's Knoll, Avon Gorge, Bristol

Network of paths criss-cross woods that were once a medieval deer park and 19th-century terraced garden.

Near the railway. (01476 581112).

6. Blackbush Shaw and Twenty Acre Shaw Woods, Down Valley, Kent

Ancient woodland lying within Downe House, the former home of Charles Darwin. Rich variety of plants.

(01476 581112).

7. Brimham Rocks, near Harrogate, Yorkshire

Spectacular views, but the real joy of this moorland is the strange and fantastic rock formations. Open: daily, 8am. Car parking: up to four hours, £3; £4 thereafter. Motorbikes free. (01423 780688).

8. Byron's Pool, near Cambridge

Footpaths and picnic tables along River Cam, which winds past this idyllic spot. Watch out for exhibitionist dons bathing. (01223 717111).

9. Chopwell Woodland Park, Tyne and Wear

Some 900 acres on the fringe of Gateshead, it is run by the Forestry Commission with much involvement of locals. (01223 314546).

10. Coton Wood, Derbyshire

Meadows and broadleaf woodland, making a perfect environment for birds and insects. (01476 581112).

11. Dalby Forest, near Thornton-Le-Dale, North Yorks

Valley and an upland plateau in the southern part of the North York Moors National Park. Oak, beech, ash, alder and hazel as well as many conifers, plus clear streams. (01223 314546).

12. Dimmings Dale, Oakamoor, Staffordshire

Thanks to the Forestry Commission, visitors can now stroll where the aristocratic guests of the Earl of Shrewsbury proceeded in their carriages. Rolling hills, dramatic sandstone outcrops, pools and woodland. (01223 314546).

13. Droitwich Canals, West Midlands

Waterways Trust is in the middle of restoring this 7.5 mile stretch of canal, which links the Worcester and Birmingham Canal with the River Severn. (01452 318220).

14. Elibank & Traquair, Innerleithen, Scottish borders

Largest woodland in the Tweed Valley, with one of the finest downhill mountain-biking venues in Europe. (01223 314546).

15. Gisburn, near Slaidburn, Lancashire

Set in the upper Hodder Valley, its tracks have great views over Stocks Reservoir and the surrounding Forest of Bowland Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty. (01223 314546).

16. Glen Finglas, Loch Lomond National Park, Glasgow

A former royal hunting forest which now has one of the largest collections of ancient trees in Scotland. Woodland Trust has spent much money restoring it. (01476 581112).

17. Gorse Covert Mounds, Warrington, Cheshire

Mix of marsh, grassland and broadleaf and deciduous trees make this a complex, mosaic habitat. (01476 581112).

18. Grizedale Forest Park, near Hawkshead, Cumbria

Famous for forest sculptures, Grizedale offers an extensive range of waymarked trails, adventure playground, picnic areas, a forest shop, exhibition, Visitor Centre and forest tea room. (01223 314546).

19. Hatchet Pond, near Beaulieu, Hampshire

The largest stretch of water in a forest. Valuable habitat for wildlife, good for picnics and great for sunsets. Off B3055 towards Brockenhurst. (01223 314546).

20. Herodsfoot, near Looe, Cornwall

Mixed beech and oak woodland just off the B3359 within the West Looe Valley. Has good walks, cycle tracks, millpond. and cabins to rent. (01223 314546).

21. Hodgemoor, near Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire

Medieval woods with later Victorian additions, and so a huge variety of trees and shrubs. (01223 314546).

22. Lynford Arboretum and Lakes, near Mundford, Norfolk

Part of Thetford Forest Park, with more than 200 tree species. Good footpaths on this Forestry Commission site, most of which are suitable for wheelchair users. (01223 314546).

23. Melton Country Park, near Doncaster, Leicestershire

Nature and sculpture trails, plus a large lake. Part of the Jubilee Way, a 15-mile path to Belvoir Castle crosses the park.

Open: Wed-Mon, 11am. (01664 480164).

24. Nant Mill Woods and Plas Power Woods, Bersham, North Wales

Plas Power includes a section of Offa's Dyke. Visitor centre (with loos, ice creams, picnic area, river for paddling in) is between the two sites.

25. Prehen Wood, County Derry, off Derry-Strabane road, N Ireland

The Woodland Trust owns this 400-year-old wood of mature oak, ash and beech, plus 60 plant species. Long-eared owls and red squirrel thrive here.

26. Reynold's Wood, Brogborough, Bedfordshire

Mix of ancient, semi-natural woodland and modern woods, with good views. Ancient boundary banks and Saxon farm sites visible. (01476 581112).

27. River Wey Navigations and Dapdune Wharf, Surrey

A 20-mile towpath and wharf tell the story of the river and its people. Dapdune Wharf: Open: Thurs-Mon, 11am. £3.50; child, £2; family (two plus three), £10. (01483 561389).

28. Sence Valley Forest Park, nr Ibstock, Leicestershire

Disused open-cast colliery transformed into a diverse wildlife haven: 150 species of birds have been recorded.

Open: daily, 8am. (01455 290429).

29. Tring Park, Tring, Hertfordshire

Lovely parkland and woodland has great views. If wet dive into the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum. Museum open: Mon-Sat, 10am; Sun, 2pm. Free. (020-7942 6171).

30. Waterfalls, near Pontneddfechan, Powys

Spectacular waterfalls set among broadleaf woodlands in the Brecon Beacons National Park. (01970 526866).

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