England is home to some fantastic landscapes including areas with a high density of trees that we know fondly as enchanting forests.
Steeped in history and legend, forests are wonderful places to spend time – whether for a Sunday afternoon stroll, dog walk, adventure for the kids, or simply to enjoy connecting with nature. Often quiet and ideal for contemplation, forests have diverse ecologies and wildlife and can provide the perfect opportunity to spot rare species of trees and plants as well as different animals.
These 5 forests are some of the most famous that exist in England, and are located across the country.
1. New Forest
Situated in southern England, the New Forest covers parts of south-west Hampshire as well as south-east Wiltshire and east Dorset. The forest was created as a royal forest in 1079 by William the Conqueror for hunting deer, and was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as “Nova Foresta”.
There are various myths associated with this forest, including the Rufus Stone. When King William II, known by the nickname Rufus because of his ruddy complexion and red hair, was out hunting deer in the forest an arrow said to have been aimed at a stag struck an oak tree and bounced off and struck William, killing him instantly. When the tree died in the eighteenth century, Walter Delaware erected a monument in its place called the Rufus Stone.
2. Forest of Dean
Located in Gloucestershire, the Forest of Dean (pictured in the photo on the right) has a long history. A big area was reserved for royal hunting before 1066, and remained as the second largest royal forest in England, after the New Forest. Tudor kings in particular used to hunt in this forest, and timber from the trees was used to build various ships including the Mary Rose.
3. Sherwood Forest
This famous forest of Nottinghamshire is associated with the legend of Robin Hood, who is said to have robbed the rich to feed the poor and fought against injustice. Robin and his band of Merry Men were said to have sought refuge in the enormous oak tree in Sherwood Forest called Major Oak. This tree is so vast that since Victorian times it has needed scaffolding to support it.
4. Epping Forest
On the border of Greater London and Essex, the name of Epping Forest was first recorded in the seventeenth century – before that time, it was known as Waltham Forest. Given legal status as a royal forest in the twelfth century by Henry III, everyone was allowed to graze livestock in the forest and gather wood and food but only the king could hunt.
In 1543, King Henry VIII commissioned a building called Great Standing which was renovated in 1589 for Queen Elizabeth I, becoming known as her Hunting Lodge. This building still stands in Chingford and is open to the public.
5. Dalby Forest
Together with Langdale Forest and Cropton Forest, Dalby Forest forms part of the North Riding Forest Park within the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Its history is thought to date back to the Bronze Age, and today it is primarily used for recreation and timber production.
This post was contributed on behalf of Buxton’s online arborist store.