Cool, shady woods...
It's going to be hot, hot, hot - and the best advice is to stay indoors if you can, drink lots of water, and move as little as possible. But if you're really fretting, and really need to get out, then what could be better than a lovely cool, shady woodland? Some of our favourites are:
Billy Banks Wood. On the edge of Richmond town, this beautiful wood is partly owned by the National Trust. Many of the paths run close to the River Swale (perfect for a quick splash or a cooling swim), while others lead gently upward to the village of Hudswell, where you can recover in the coolth of the George and Dragon inn. We've got a useful leaflet in our Information Centre, or you can find details on this National Trust page.
Deepdale Wood Nature Reserve, just outside Barnard Castle. An ancient semi-natural woodland in a deep valley, with several small becks tinkling away in the valley bottom. A wonderful, peaceful atmosphere - you'll feel a long way from anywhere. Access details are here.
Foxglove Covert - another beautiful nature reserve, this one incongruously sited in the middle of Catterick Garrison! Covering more than 100 acres, the reserve contains woodland, heathland, flower-rich grassland, streams, ponds, a lake and wet meadows. There's an excellent Visitor Centre, with information boards, activities for children, and refreshments. You'll need a driving licence or similar photo ID to get in, but that's a minor inconvenience. More info here.
Freeholders' Wood, at Aysgarth in Wensleydale. There aren't many large woods in the Yorkshire Dales, and this one's a beauty. From the convenient public car park and cafe you can find dozens of paths through the coppiced woodlands. All the while you'll hear the roar of Aysgarth Falls, where the River Ure cascades over shelves in the limestone, and if you're really lucky you may see a dormouse! Details are on this National Park web page.
If you're in Richmond, call by the Information Centre in the old Market Hall, where you can pick up a leaflet called Discover Yorkshire's Incredible Woods, which also features the Nidd Gorge Woods, romantic Hackfall Woods, and Preston Spring Woods near Leyburn, among others.
Wherever you go, please remember a few precautions: swimming in cold water can be dangerous; and fires - including cigarettes - can be hugely destructive. Have fun! Stay cool!
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