Britain’s best woodland sites for a relaxing escape

The Tawny Hotel grounds in rural Staffordshire
Guests at The Tawny Hotel in Staffordshire can book a forest bathing experience in the stunning 70-acre rewilded grounds - The Tawny Hotel

This year, a forest bathing garden was crowned the winner of the RHS Chelsea Best in Show, demonstrating that you don’t need to travel halfway around the world to experience the practice. But what is forest bathing?

Known in Japan as shinrin yoku, forest bathing encourages taking time to be quiet and calm among the trees, to be in the moment and absorb the sights and sounds around you and feeling more connected to nature.

Research has demonstrated that even as little as 15 minutes spent among trees can lower cortisol levels, boost the immune system and reduce anxiety. There are plenty of places in Britain where you can experience the healing power of trees, albeit in a less structured, more DIY style than in Japan.

So here are our suggestions for where to go to experience forest bathing in Britain. Just remember to switch off your phone before you go – and leave your camera behind.

Hampshire and Gloucestershire

Forest of Dean
Forest Holidays offers 90-minute forest bathing sessions free of charge - Alamy

Forest Holidays – a partner of Forestry England – has trained rangers as forest therapy guides, offering 90-minute forest bathing sessions free of charge. The gentle strolls encourage people to experience contact with nature. Each outing will end with a tea ceremony – the brew made from foraged local plants. From £710 for a 4 night break at the Forest of Dean in September (03330 110495;


Fifinella Retreat's Scandi-inspired wood cabin looks out over the Black Mountains
Fifinella Retreat's Scandi-inspired wood cabin looks out over the Black Mountains - Canopy & Stars

Glamping specialist Canopy & Stars has a huge collection of woodland sites for a shinrin-yoku break. Among them is Fifinella Retreat, a unique Scandi-inspired wood cabin designed and hand-built by the owner, Zac. Flanked by an ancient woodland and with views of the Black Mountains from the deck, sweet isolation can be enjoyed. Cabin from £180 per night, sleeps 2 (0117 204 7830;


The owner of Happy Valley glamping retreat in north-west Norfolk is an enthusiastic advocate of forest bathing. Katy Coe’s shepherd’s huts, tree cabin, tepee and bell tents are set among lofty trees and she hands out maps and information to all guests, offers a guided tour of the immediate woodland space and provides hammocks for guests to absorb the forest atmosphere. From £99 a night for a two-person bell tent; book through


The Tawny Hotel, Stoke on Trent
Relax in The Tawny Hotel's heated outdoor pool

Forestry England recommends stepping out in Cannock Chase Forest on the 2.5-mile loop that takes in Fairoak Valley and the pools, which are an important habitat for the area’s wild deer.

Staffordshire’s Community Forest Services provides a free course to deeper understand the benefits of forest bathing with classes in outdoor breathing exercises, barefoot walking and foraged art all taking place among the trees.

Stay nearby at The Tawny Hotel (Huts from £250) and you can book a forest bathing experience in the stunning 70-acre rewilded grounds, and afterwards retreat to the heated outdoor pool.


You can find otters, badgers and more than 100 species of bird at the Falls of Clyde reserve near Lanark in Scotland – not to mention four spectacular waterfalls alongside well-marked woodland trails. Visit from January to March to see otters in the wild or April to August for a beautiful display of woodland wildflowers.

The reserve is on the Clyde Walkway, which leads to the nearby New Lanark World Heritage site, a 18th-century former cotton-spinning mill village on the banks of the Clyde with a hotel. Doubles from £85 room-only; cottages cost from £129 per night.

On the Lanrick Estate, Kip Hideaways, has treehouse accommodations with alfresco baths and a woodland sauna. Their Pipin treehouse sleeps 4. Prices from £210 per night, min 2 nights; (


Guests at Lost Meadow in Cornwall can stay in cedar-clad pods suspended in the trees
Guests at Lost Meadow in Cornwall can stay in cedar-clad pods suspended in the trees - Bonnie Gough

Another Canopy & Stars suggestion is Lost Meadow in Cornwall, where you stay in a spherical, cedar-clad pod suspended in the trees. There are lovely views down to the river and 20 acres of woodland for secluded forest bathing. The tree pod sleeps two and costs from £115 a night (booking as above).

Tree house stays are perfect for immersing yourself in the beauty (and silence) of the forest, and they don’t get much more nature focused than at Kudhva, an architect-designed, off-grid glamping site near Tintagel and Port Issac. The stilted huts start from £100 a night with a two-night minimum.


One of the largest and most beautiful ancient oak woods in Britain, Horner Wood on the Holnicote Estate in Somerset was historically used to produce wood for fuel and crafting hand tools, and winter fodder for stock. Today the ancient oak pollards provide a home for wood warblers, pied flycatchers and deer. Book into Holnicote Lower House, five-bed part thatched cottage managed by The National Trust, prices from £700 for two nights.

An hour across the border in Devon, and attracting the Center Parcs crowd, is the Mole Resort (01769 540561;, which offers two-bedroom lodges from £168 per night, based on a three-night stay.

The New Forest

Lime Wood Hotel is set within the sylvan New Forest National Park
Lime Wood Hotel is set within the sylvan New Forest National Park - Amy Murrell

You’ll find miles of ancient woodland, much of which has remained unchanged since William the Conqueror declared it his royal hunting ground in 1079. Footpaths and cycle tracks lead to peaceful glades conducive to meditation and forest bathing – there are particularly beautiful forested areas around Bolderwood car park and visitor site. See the Forestry website for details.

Lime Wood Hotel is set within the sylvan New Forest National Park and offers the ‘Wild Wanderings’ one-day retreat, which includes forest bathing, pilates, breathwork and sound healing at £265 per person. Rooms at Lime Wood start from £495 per night.


Another trust property ideal for a spot of shinrin-yoku is Colby Woodland Garden in Pembrokeshire. Set in a leafy valley, it has striking sea views and you can de-stress beneath the tallest Japanese redwood in Britain ( The two-bedroom Colby Rose Cottage is managed by National Trust, with prices from £520 for two nights.


Immerse yourself in ancient woodland at Badgells Wood
Immerse yourself in ancient woodland at Badgells Wood - Alamy

According to the team at Badgells Wood, this site on the Kent Downs is a “an experience as close to wild camping as possible.” The team boasts “the chance to immerse yourselves in our beautiful ancient woodland and allow nature, and the magic of the campfire, to send you home feeling healthy, energised and relaxed.” Perfect for shrugging off the pressures of the modern world. Camp in tents and campervans from £24 a night adult, £12 child. (

Lake District

Cumbria has several ancient mountain and lakeside forests to explore and its at Whinlatter that Lakeland Wellbeing’s Jen Grange runs her wild wellbeing experiences, from first bathing and mindfulness to foraging, full moon circles and Reiki courses. Jen says the area “is a wonderful place to relax and heal; in nature there is no judgement, just acceptance and space to breathe.”

Having worked in conservation for many years, Jen now instils the importance of respecting nature in all who take her classes, which can be booked as part of a group or as a privately guided experience. Stay at Armathwaite Hall, Keswick, Cumbria, which offers its own ‘Forest and Moon Bathing Experiences’ too. Rooms from £199 per night.


A spa day might not be entirely in the spirit of shinrin-yoku, but the Aqua Sana spa at Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest does include a forest meditation immersion zone with a glass wall overlooking the forest and a 32ft high treetop sauna with views across the canopy. There are two open-air hot tubs in the forest and a wide range of de-stressing treatments. Spa days cost from £119 per person Monday-Friday and it is possible to visit as an external guest for the day. (0344 826 6205: