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Britain’s Best Rainforests

June 22nd is World Rainforest Day, dedicated to raising awareness of rainforests, and the need to protect them. While commonly associated with tropical climates such as the Amazon, rainforests also exist in cooler climates too (if you haven’t read it yet, read Guy Shrubshole’s 'The Lost Rainforests of Britain'). The UK is home to globally rare temperate rainforest, much of which is also ancient woodland. Here, we list four of the UK’s best examples to explore on foot.


Ariundle Oakwood National Nature Reserve

Ariundle Oakwood National Nature Reserve is incredibly remote, located on Ardnamurchan in Scotland’s West Highland Peninsulas. The temperate rainforest is home to oak, ash, birch, hazel and Scots pine, as well as abundant wildlife including the rare chequered skipper butterfly. An easy 5km circular trail begins near Acharacle, and takes around an hour to walk. The best time to visit is June through August, and you’re unlikely to encounter anyone else while you explore.


Barnluasgan is a lochside temperate rainforest, part of Argyll’s wider Knapdale Forest.  The ancient woodland is made up of oak, hazel and birch, but what’s really exciting are the unique miniature plants such as tree lungwort, glue fungus and Wilson’s filmy fern. The wetland habitat is also where the first beavers were reintroduced to Scotland in 2009. A 9km moderately challenging trail loops around Barnluasgan and Loch Coille Bharr, taking in an ancient cross slab, as well as various beaver lodges.

Coed Felenrhyd & Llennyrch

Coed Felenrhyd & Llennyrch is a temperate rainforest and one of Wales’ largest woods. It’s around 309 hectares, situated between Llyn Trawsfynydd and the Dwyryd estuary in Eryri National Park. Part of the rainforest encompasses the steep sides of the Afon Prysor gorge, thought to have been wooded for thousands of years — maybe even as long ago as the last Ice Age. It’s a popular birdwatching spot, for migrant redstarts and pied flycatchers. There’s informal public access to the woods through two public rights of way, as well as many permissive paths. 

Wistman’s Wood

Wistman’s Wood is a temperate rainforest located in Dartmoor National Park’s West Dart Valley. It’s a small patch that feels like a portal into a Grimm’s Fairytale, with twisted, low-branched pedunculate oak trees draped in rare horsehair lichen. It’s also home to human history dating back to the Neolithic period, and mossy rocks carved with pagan spirals and symbols. In order to protect this fragile habitat, Natural England asks visitors to stick to the paths and walk around the outside of Wistman’s Wood rather than through it. The 8km Wistman’s Wood Circular Trail begins and ends in the village of Two Bridges. It’s a moderately challenging walk through open moorland, with good views into the wood as you pass. 


Source: Lost Rainforests of Britain