We all know deep down the difference trees can make. That’s why the Mail’s Be A Tree Angel campaign urges readers to make Britain greener again and plant them to make a real difference to our much-troubled world.
And while millions of us flock to the beach for a relaxing break, others are discovering the unique joys of waking up in the company of trees.
They are balm to the soul and make sense of what President Franklin D. Roosevelt said about how ‘forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people’. So where can you experience some of the world’s most magical woodlands as a tourist? Here are just some of the world’s most fantastic forest holidays…
THE CROOKED FOREST OF DARKEST POLAND
The Gryfino Forest in Poland where each of the 400 pine trees have a large 90-degree hook at their base
Putting foot to damp earth in Gryfino Forest is like stepping into a Tim Burton film, where nature has gone awry. Each of the 400 pine trees here have a large 90-degree hook at their base, making them one of Europe’s most bizarre woodland sights.
TOP TREE SIGHT: Visit at dusk, when the forest is at its most haunting, and speculate on how this weird woodland came to be (our money’s on aliens).
BOOK IT: Rooms at the Radisson Blu in nearby Szczecin cost from around £65, radissonhotels.com. Ryanair flies direct to Szczecin from £82, ryanair.com.
ANCIENT CUMBRIA’S CRAZY SCULPTURES
An ancient forest wedged between Windermere and Coniston in the Lake District, Grizedale has had sculptures — including a recent piece by Yoko Ono — placed in its natural clearings since 1977 and excels in finding clever ways to woo 21st-century visitors including electric bike trails, forest schools and star-gazing.
TOP TREE SIGHT: England’s only indigenous red deer live here.
BOOK IT: Doubles at the boutique Swan hotel, eight miles away, start from £110. Call 015395 31681 or visit swanhotel.com.
FLOATING RE-TREE-T IN ARCTIC SWEDEN
Treehotel is 30 miles from the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland. It has seven individual places to stay including the UFO, pictured
One of the other branch-height properties at Treehotel. All of the places to stay here float around ten yards above the ground
Taking immersive to the next level is Treehotel, 30 miles from the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland. This futuristic-looking, branch-height property has seven individual places to stay including the ‘nest’, ‘mirror-cube’ and the ‘UFO’ — all of which float around ten yards above the ground.
TOP TREE SIGHT: A twilight snow-mobile tour through Lule River Valley offers the chance to zoom under the Northern Lights.
BOOK IT: A one-night stay in the UFO at Treehotel costs £383. Call +46 (0)928-10300 or visit treehotel.se. Norwegian fly to nearby Lulea, via Stockholm, from around £160, norwegian.com.
LOOKING SKYWARDS IN SILENT SCOTLAND
Reelig Glen Wood, pictured, a steep-sided gorge west of Inverness. It is home to Britain’s centuries-old Douglas firs
Britain’s Douglas firs are in silent, stretch-to-the-heavens competition with each other; these centuries-old natural skyscrapers creaking ever higher. The current tallest, a 220ft giant, sits in the Gwydyr Forest, Wales, but Scotland has towering trees aplenty. Head to Reelig Glen Wood, a steep-sided gorge west of Inverness, to see the mightiest of them.
TOP TREE SIGHT: Dughall Mor, meaning ‘Big Stranger’, is a Douglas fir at Reelig Glen that reaches well over 196ft.
WOODLAND RETREAT: Country manor Achnagairn Estate has doubles from £100. Call 01463 831 878 or visit perfectmanors.com.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY UK FOREST BREAKS
Forest Holidays offers family-friendly arboreal abodes — cosy log cabins with woodburners and hot tubs — in scenic UK woods. Pictured is a treehouse in Cornwall
A low-key alternative to Center Parcs, Forest Holidays offers family-friendly arboreal abodes — cosy log cabins with woodburners and hot tubs — in scenic UK woods including Sherwood and the Forest of Dean, with the focus firmly on the nature outside your front door. Great for groups of friends, too.
TOP TREE TREAT: Take a forest ranger course — making nettle rope, building fires and foraging for food.
BOOK IT: Three-night weekend breaks in January cost from £555, based on four sharing a two-bedroom cabin. Call Forest Holidays on 03330 110 495 or visit forestholidays.co.uk.
BELGIUM’S CARPET OF BRILLIANT BLUE
The Hallerbos, pictured, is 1,360 acres of woodland less than an hour south of Brussels. As winter bids adieu a spectacular carpet of deep purple appears as thousands of bluebells ring in the Belgian spring
When winter bids adieu, The Hallerbos, 1,360 acres of woodland less than an hour south of Brussels, marks the changing of the seasonal guard by laying out a spectacular carpet of deep purple, as thousands of bluebells ring in the Belgian spring.
TOP TREE TREAT: The Hallerbos is at its most photogenic when the young beech trees blossom — usually in April — marking a dazzling green contrast to the cornflower blue beneath them.
BOOK IT: Doubles at the pretty B&B Gusto, two miles from the forest, from £70. Visit gustobnb.be. Return tickets from London to Brussels on Eurostar from around £60, eurostar.com.
DEVON’S AGE-OLD TREE HEAVEN
The oaks on Dartmoor’s northern fringes have been usurped by non-natural conifers over time. Pictured is a copse on Dartmoor
Mighty Iron Age oaks once reigned supreme in 825-acre Fingle Woods on Dartmoor’s northern fringes but have been usurped by non-natural conifers over time. Visitors now though are privy to an inspiring rebirth of the oaks — thanks to the National Trust and Woodland Trust — although a full recovery is expected to take 200 years.
TOP TREE SIGHT: Wooston Castle hillfort affords stunning views of the woods plus the chance to spy Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in England.
BOOK IT: Five-star accommodation at Bovey Castle with doubles from £164. Call 01647 445000 or visit boveycastle.com.
REDWOOD GOLIATHS OF CALIFORNIA
To find some of the loftiest – and oldest – Redwoods on California’s north-west Pacific Coast, head to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, pictured
To wander among the Redwoods of California’s north-west Pacific Coast is to step into a geological time machine peeling back two millennia. Find some of the loftiest — and oldest — in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the backdrop for the original Star Wars film.
TOP TREE SIGHT: Get behind the wheel; Howland Hill Road scenic drive meanders 11 miles through some of the most remote parts of Jedediah park.
BOOK IT: Rooms at the nearby vintage Motel Trees (moteltrees.com) from £63. Fly to the nearest airport, San Francisco, with United Airlines from £288, united.com.
FABULOUS FEAST IN THE BLACK FOREST
The Black Forest makes for the most serene of short breaks. Pictured is Edelfrauengrab waterfalls near Oppenau
The undisputed champion of Germany’s tourism offering, the Schwarzwald serves up green meadows, deep valleys and beautiful woodland, all said to have inspired the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Add in cute wooded villages dovetailed with lashings of comfort food and the Black Forest makes for the most serene of short breaks.
TOP TREE TREAT: Take a hike through the pristine coniferous forest in the outdoor wonderland that is Schwarzwald National Park, near spa town Baden-Baden.
BOOK IT: Doubles at luxury spa hotel Brenners Park-Hotel in Baden-Baden start from £290. Visit oetkercollection.com. Reaching the Black Forest by train takes less than six hours from London. Return tickets from around £200. See raileurope.co.uk.