12 August 2013
National tourist board VisitEngland and Forestry Commission England have launched the More in the Forest campaign to promote summer holidays in and around England’s woods, forests and arboretums.
From taking long leafy walks, to relaxing with a picnic on the Downs, a break based around the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt will leave you feeling tranquil and quiet – the perfect antidote to a hectic lifestyle.
Research says that spending time amongst the trees helps alleviate stress levels . The healing properties of natural scenery are so popular for physical and psychological health in Japan that they call it ‘forest bathing’.
Taking your family on one of Westonbirt’s seasonal trails is a great way to benefit from the fresh air and green surroundings of the arboretum. The Forestry Commission has 17 miles of paths through the arboretum and dozens of leafy glades with levels of accessibility to suit a range of visitors on foot, in mobility scooters and with pushchairs.
There are also several family trails and quizzes to discover. Families can pick up a play trail from the Great Oak Hall when they visit, or enjoy activities which track down trees, wildlife and weather – using downloads for families available on Westonbirt’s website.
To really make the most of your visit, grab a bench or spread out a rug and enjoy a picnic on the magnificent Grade I registered Downs landscape, surrounded by historic trees.
The National Arboretum is also home to many species of mammals and birds. Pop along to their wild bird viewing shelter to catch a glimpse of woodland birds which make their home in the arboretum, including nuthatches, jays and tree-creepers.
Liz Bonnin, Biochemist, Wild Animal Biologist and TV Presenter commented:
"Forests and woodlands are magical places. They are home to an abundance of birds, animals and other wildlife and provide endless opportunities for exploration and adventure, and are perfect environments in which to escape from our busy lives and take a restorative break."
To really recharge your batteries, spend a few nights in one of the many charming hotels and bed and breakfasts to be found in the surrounding Cotswold area. There are also a number of great value camping and caravanning sites to be found nearby.
The arboretum is also a spectacular backdrop for a number of enjoyable courses amongst the trees, from one day photography workshops to week-long chair-making in the stunning Silk Wood Barn.
However you choose to unwind in the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt, you will leave feeling rested and recuperated. So next time you feel your stress levels rising, treat yourself to a spot of ‘forest bathing’ – the trees are yours to enjoy all year round!
Visitors can find out more about accommodation in the area surrounding the National Arboretum at Westonbirt on the official Cotswolds Tourism website: www.cotswolds.com
 Hartig T, Mang M, Evans GW (1991) ‘Restorative effects of natural environment experiences’ Environment and Behavior 1991; 23: 3-27; Ulrich RS (1984) ‘View through a window may influence recovery from surgery’, Science, vol. 224, no. 4647, pp 420-421; Ulrich RS, Simons RF, Losito BD, Fiorito E, Miles MA, Zelson M (1991) ‘Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments’ Journal of Environmental Psychology 1991; 11: 201-203. All three sources cited in Aldridge V, Howie F, Parrott E (2007) Wye Wood – The wider wood. See http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/fce-wye-wood-project.pdf/$FILE/fce-wye-wood-project.pdf
 Kinver M (2012) ‘Does outdoor play help keep the doctor away?’ BBC News website, 10 February 2013 – see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16963807?print=true