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10 British woodland wonders to discover this summer

All is not quite as it seems in this ancient semi-natural woodland lining the southern bank of the Ure. Gnarled sessile oaks speak of great age, now interspersed with wych elm, sycamore, rowan, ash and silver birch. But those moss-greened ruins peering out from the greenery aren’t actually the remains of Roman temples or medieval bastions. 

Rather, they’re the creations of William Aislabie who, from the mid-18th century, created a fantastical landscape garden of Gothic follies, grottoes, waterfalls and fountains that inspired Wordsworth and Turner. Today you can roam nearly 120 acres of woodland and riverine habitat, watching (and listening) for kingfishers, wood warblers, tree creepers and a host of butterflies on summer days. 

Stay: The Ruin at Hackfall (landmarktrust.org.uk), sleeping two, costs from £416 for four nights.

Hafren Forest, Powys

Best for… crashing cascades and accessible trails

Unlike ancient woodlands lauded here, Hafren Forest dates back only to the 1930s, when spruce and pine were planted on former upland sheep-farms. The story of the land beneath, though, stretches back far into the distant past, before Bronze-Age miners dug for copper and lead, before prehistoric inhabitants raised a standing stone, to the epochs during which the nascent River Severn carved its course through the rock to create waterfalls and crashing rapids.

Among the numerous paths and tracks criss-crossing the forest and leading to the cataracts, notably the evocatively named Severn-Break-its-Neck and Blaen Hafren Falls Trails, several stretches are accessible to littler legs, buggies and wheelchair users.

Stay: Ty Capel B&B (tycapelbandb.co.uk) has doubles from £100 per night, including breakfast.

Grizedale Forest, Cumbria

Best for… active adventures and alfresco art