Enchanted forests to visit with your family!
We’ve picked our top 5 most enchanted forests for you and your family to explore. Keep a look out for fairies, boggarts and other creatures of the wild woods…
1. Runnymede, Surrey
The Ankerwycke yew tree, near Runnymede in Surrey, is thought to be the oldest tree looked after by the National Trust. Believed to be around 2,500 years old, if any tree is enchanted, this is the one.
It’s said to have witnessed the events around the sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215 and King Henry VIII’s wooing of Anne Boleyn in the 1530s! So discover the secrets of the Ankerwycke yew on the park circular walk.
2. Lydford Gorge, Devon
Lydford Gorge in Devon is an ancient forest with a deep secret: this special place is the deepest gorge in the South West, and boasts the spectacular 30m White Lady Waterfall.
You can also walk out over the Devil’s Cauldron, a naturally-formed pot hole. ‘The Devil's Cauldron inspires young children's imagination,’ says Hannah, a visitor to the gorge.
The place is awash with stories and myths – discover more by visiting with your family and exploring its secrets yourself.
3. Ullswater, Cumbria
Hidden in the ancient woodland of Ullswater is the tumbling 65ft (nearly 20m) Aira Force waterfall.
If the Lake District weather is kind to you, stop for a while in the peaceful glades and enjoy a family picnic.
But even if other adventurers are few and far between, it’s unlikely you and your family are alone – look up and you may well see strange red creatures, with bushy tails, watching you from the trees.
4. Hatfield Forest, Essex
The ancient trees of Hatfield Forest are like living sculptures. Some are an incredible 1,200 years old, and there are even some that have become ‘walking trees’.
A 'walking tree' is born when the middle of the trunk becomes so rotten that the tree falls over. It re-roots and begins to grow again.
Whether you want somewhere for the children to run off energy or a place for quiet reflection, you will find your own special place at Hatfield – Britain’s best-surviving example of an almost-complete medieval royal hunting forest.
5. Ashfield Estate, Hertfordshire
Ashridge Estate has more than enough space for children and their imaginations to run wild. Rare breeds of deer, bats and songbirds all call this mystical forest their home.
Coralie, who works at Ashridge, explains how it’s easy to see it as the setting of a fairy tale: ‘To many, our monument is Rapunzel’s tower, the shooting lodge is the witch’s house and the crossing between the two is troll bridge.’
But watch out - it’s also home to the evil fairy from Sleeping Beauty. Disney’s film Maleficent was filmed here among the ancient trees.