Experience the magic of the summer solstice with Forestry England's top 10 walks
Forestry England invites nature enthusiasts and adventure-seekers alike to embrace the enchanting spirit of the summer solstice with a top 10 of summer solstice walks in the nation’s forests. This unique collection of walks promises breath-taking views, serene surroundings, and a chance to connect with nature at its finest during this celestial celebration.
During the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and when the sun is at its peak in the sky, Forestry England encourages you to immerse yourself in the enchanting allure of the nation’s forests and behold the abundant natural wonders they hold. With a choice of dense forests, or sprawling hills as your backdrop, these majestic forests offer an extraordinary experience for individuals, families, and friends to enjoy together.
Discover the captivating beauty and spiritual significance of the summer solstice on one of Forestry England’s walks:
The Ranger’s Path, Sherwood Pines, Nottinghamshire (8km)
Take a magical walk along the Ranger's Path, near the Visitor Centre of Sherwood Pines. If you're lucky enough to arrive early, you'll witness an awe-inspiring sight: the sun's golden rays shining through the lush trees, creating a mesmerising display. As you continue your journey through the forest, the walk reveals different peaceful areas of Sherwood Pines, providing a wonderful way to celebrate the joyful summer solstice.
Old Pale Trail – Delamere Forest, Cheshire (3km)
Starting from the visitor centre, head South-West up the steep gravelled track to the right of the natural amphitheatre, reaching Pale Heights after approximately 1.5 kilometres. At Pale Heights, a breath-taking panoramic view awaits, offering vistas of the forest, the Manchester skyline, Merseyside, and the mountains of North Wales on clear days. Notably, seven counties are visible, including Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Denbighshire, and Flintshire, each represented by large stones crafted from the corresponding county's stone. The central plinth showcases plaques featuring prominent landmarks visible from every direction, such as the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank and Blakemere Moss at the heart of Delamere Forest. Standing at 176 meters, Pale Heights proudly claims the title of the highest point in the Cheshire Plain. After immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring vista, which is amplified by the summer solstice sun, continue along the top from the stones, turning left onto another gravelled track to descend from the opposite end of the hill. As you journey back to the visitor centre, you'll encounter a different section of the forest and enjoy varied scenic views along the way.
Butterfly Trail, Haldon Forest, Devon (6km)
A fantastic walk to enjoy the summer solstice, that begins with a breath-taking viewpoint overlooking Exeter. The trail will lead you pass through a butterfly conservation area, where you can observe up to 30 different butterfly species, including the rare pearl-bordered fritillary. Furthermore, the route takes you through serene sections of the forest, offering ideal spots for shaded picnics. If you choose to do this walk during dawn or dusk, you might even have the chance to hear the distinctive call of the Nightjar, which nests in the heathland areas. This is a challenging route, featuring steep hills, however there are several resting spots along the way, as well as benches to stop and enjoy the scenic view. This route is also suitable for Trampers, and on the return leg, there are signs indicating an alternative path to avoid steps.
Mailscot Wood Trail, Symonds Yat, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire (6km)
Enjoy a wonderful walk on the summer solstice along a beautiful 6km path through enchanting woodlands. Be prepared for some hills along the way, which can make it moderately challenging. At the start of the walk, you'll come across a less crowded viewpoint that offers stunning panoramic views of the river, just as impressive as the famous Symonds Yat Rock viewpoint. To make your experience even better, you can take a short detour to the main viewpoint either at the beginning or end of the walk, following a brief section of the Symonds Yat Trail. From there, you can admire more captivating river views and have the chance to spot peregrine falcons gracefully flying around the nearby cliffs. To wrap up your adventure, you can visit a lovely café located nearby, or choose to relax at the charming riverside pubs, which are a short drive away or accessible by a slightly steep but invigorating walk on either side of the hand ferry.
Pinetum trail - Bedgebury National Pinetum, Kent (3.2km)
Enjoy a summer solstice walk along the captivating Pinetum Trail. This extraordinary collection of conifers from across the globe has been captivating visitors since 1836. Carefully nurtured by Forestry England, the national pinetum serves as a haven for both people and wildlife, offering a sanctuary for scientific study and a place of awe-inspiring beauty for all to enjoy. As you wander along the waymarked trail, be prepared to encounter an abundance of extraordinary trees and a rich diversity of wildlife. Whether you choose the short loop or the long loop, this accessible trail welcomes visitors of all ages and abilities, commencing at the double gates near the main car park.
Fairoak trail - Cannock Chase Forest, Staffordshire (4km)
This trail takes you through Fairoak Valley in a circular path, passing by two big fishing ponds that are surrounded by beautiful pine trees. You can paddle through the stepping stones in the water and keep an eye out for herons and deer. There are benches placed throughout the trail where you can rest and enjoy the sounds of the forest. One of the ponds is specifically designated for dogs to paddle or swim in, making it a perfect spot for them to cool down after a sunny summer solstice walk.
Boundary Walk - Chopwell Wood, Northumberland (9km) with the option of completing the shorter North or South Loop
This walk allows you to choose your challenge. Complete the full Boundary walk or choose between the North or South Loop, starting at the main car park. This is a beautiful walk, that takes you on a journey through the woods enabling you to explore the quieter areas of the forest. The route will take you through conifer and broadleaf woodland and along the River Derwent, giving you views of the amazing Derwent Valley and the surrounding area from various viewpoints along the way. Discover Chopwell’s heritage when crossing the stone railway bridge above the old colliery line.
Mindfulness trail, Alice Holt Forest, Surrey (1.5k)
Being one of the last surviving ancient woodlands in the South-East of England, Alice Holt Forest, south of Farnham, provides a peaceful and serene environment. The mindfulness trail within the forest guides you through breath-taking areas filled with tall Douglas fir trees. As the sunlight of the solstice filters through the branches, it creates a beautiful glistening effect. If you manage to maintain a quiet demeanour, you may even catch a glimpse of fallow deer during your journey.
Woodpecker trail, Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire (10km)
From the Visitor Centre, your journey will begin, taking you on an exciting adventure to the farthest corners of the ancient woodland. Along the way, you'll come across several well-known oak trees that have fallen over the years, some of which are more than 400 years old! The path you'll tread varies, ranging from soft trails to stony forest roads, making it a challenging but wonderfully tranquil experience. The trail is also the perfect way to catch a glimpse of numerous rare butterfly species that grace Salcey Forest, especially on a beautiful Summer Solstice day.
Bedburn Valley Walk - Hamsterley Forest, Northumberland (4km)
This is a moderate walk which will offer some challenge but with great reward. Showing you everything Hamsterley has to offer in the glorious summer solstice sun. You will set out following the calming Bedburn Beck before climbing through a beautiful mixed woodland, giving you views of the Bedburn Valley below. Having reached the highest point on the walk, you then descend back into the forest, re-joining the Bedburn Beck. At Low Redford picnic area, you can take some time to recharge before returning through an oak wood which was planted in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of George VI. Be sure to look out for the Green Man sculpture on route.
Forestry England encourages everyone to visit responsibly, following local guidelines, respecting wildlife and fellow walkers, and leaving no trace of their visit. Embrace the beauty of nature while taking care to protect it for future generations to enjoy.
Head out on one of Forestry England's summer solstice walks and create lasting memories as you connect with nature, marvel at the wonders of the summer solstice, and bask in the splendour of the great outdoors.
Notes to Editor
- Images are available here. Please credit Forestry England/Crown copyright.
- Forestry England manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, with over 363 million visits per year. As England’s largest land manager, we shape landscapes and enhance forests for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and businesses to grow. We are continuing the work we have already started to make the nation’s forests resilient to climate change and by 2026 we will:
- create at least 6,000 more hectares where we integrate wilding activities in our productive forests.
- increase the diversity of visitors to the nation’s forests and have one million hours of high-quality volunteer time given to the nation’s forests
- plant at least 2,000 hectares of new, high quality, predominantly broadleaf woodlands
For more information visit forestryengland.uk. Forestry England is an agency of the Forestry Commission.
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