Please note this blog was written pre COVID19, so when visiting these woodlands please follow all social distancing guidelines.
Whatever the weather, a woodland walk is a great activity for the whole family. Get your wellies on in the rain, crunch Autumn leaves, or pack a picnic for the sunnier months.
Taking a walk in the woods is a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors, get closer to nature and leave behind the hustle and bustle of modern everyday life. We’ve picked out our favourite woodland walks around the UK that are easily accessible by train.
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Wandlebury Country Park, Cambridge
Visit Cambridge to explore the enchanted world of Wandlebury. Amidst the Gog Magog hills of Cambridgeshire lies 110 acres of woodland paths and chalk grassland, waiting to be discovered. As you wander down the winding pathways of the shire’s best kept secret, look out for a 5th century BC iron age ring ditch and the Godolphin Arabian horse grave.
Whatever season you visit, Wandlebury is a year-round spectacle for all ages. Wrap up warm and enjoy the stillness of a frosty winter’s day, or wade ankle deep through flame-coloured leaves during Autumn. In summer, pack a picnic and enjoy the sunshine. The kids will love the den building area and games field (for ball games, frisbees, flying kites and sledging when there's snow). Not to mention 60 hectares of woodland and meadows for running around and exploring.
Adults and seniors will enjoy watching wildlife - spot the herd of Highland Cows, natural lawnmowers that help keep the meadows in good condition for flowers and wildlife. You can take a gentle stroll (or a strenuous hike) before enjoying tea and cake at the pop-up café. Walk up to Ely Viewpoint, to try and spot Ely Cathedral on a clear day.
Getting there: From Cambridge Station, you can walk to the Botanic Gardens bus stop and a 20-minute bus ride will take you to the park.
Hermitage of Braid & Blackford Hill, Edinburgh
This delightful walk combines the wooded nature reserve of the Hermitage of Braid with an ascent of Blackford Hill, giving superb views over Edinburgh.
The Old Hermitage House is a fantastic place to enjoy the great outdoors. As well as woodland, there is scrubland, grassland, and the Braid Burn – all of which house a variety of wildlife. Keep an eye out for green woodpeckers, and if you’re lucky you may see herons, kestrels and kingfishers too. Other attractions include the Ice House and a pump system along the burn which was used to provide running water to the House.
The Hermitage is designated an ancient woodland, as there have been trees on this site for over 300 years. Beech, ash and sycamore trees are common, mainly dating from the early 19th century, but there are some older specimens which have grown over 40 metres tall!
The Hermitage is also home to Blackford Hill, a muddy woodland walk that offers a beautiful 360-degree view over the city skyline, Arthur’s Seat and the Pentland Hills from the top.
Visiting Edinburgh? Check out Edinburgh’s hill walks.
Cardinham Woods, Cornwall
From adventure and exercise to peaceful strolls and stunning scenery, Cardinham Woods in Cornwall is a wonderful place to explore. Famed for its walking trails, from easy routes to longer walks that include steep valley climbs and fantastic views, this mixed woodland is a great day out for all.
You’ll find mountain bike trails and family-friendly play and picnic areas. Discover stunning viewpoints and evidence of the area’s fascinating history, including remnants of the old mine and traditional clapper bridge.
There are easy short strolls around Lady Vale Bridge, and a slightly more strenuous uphill trek brings you to the old lead and silver mine of Wheal Glynn. The old engine house and chimney can still be seen through the trees.
A day out to Cardinham Woods would not be complete without a pit stop at the Woods Café, renowned for its outstanding Cornish cream tea!
Getting there: From Bodmin Parkway Station in Cornwall, you can hop on the 11a bus directly to Cardinham Woods.
Ecclescall Woods, Sheffield
From twisting tracks, tangled roots and unexplored pathways to leafy tunnels, sparkling streams and waterside wildflowers, Sheffield’s Ecclesall Woods are delightful. They are the largest semi natural woodland in South Yorkshire and are popular due to the wide range of wildlife, plus the archaeological and historic features.
The woods offer miles of great walking trails to try – with over 300 acres to explore you’ll be spoilt for choice. Historic features to look out for include a World War Two bomb crater that was created in December 1940. There is also evidence of saw pits, charcoal heaths and quarrying in these ancient woods, plus a 200-year-old oak tree!
Head to the Woodland Discovery Centre at the Abbey Lane entrance, here you can pick up walking trails to follow. Explore the routes given in guides such as the archaeological walking map or listen to a family-friendly audio adventure.
If you fancy a cuppa and a piece of cake whilst you’re in the woods, head to the Woodland Coffee Stop. All their produce is sourced from small local businesses and the cakes are delicious!
Getting there: If you want a decent walk, the walk to Ecclesall Woods from Sheffield Station is 1 hour and 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can jump on a bus and get there in half an hour.
Whichever woodlands you’d like to visit, buy an Advance ticket with CrossCountry and download our Train Ticket app.