• Feel Good
  • 19th Jun 2024
  • 0
  • 6 minutes

What is Forest Bathing and where can you do it in the North East?

We’re always looking for new ways to relax and practise self-care, and Forest Bathing is our new obsession. Or, at least it will be when it FINALLY stops raining in the North East.

Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku, is a Japanese mindfulness practice that inspires you to take time out of your day to day and reconnect with nature.

Developed in Japan in the 1980s, as an antidote to tech-boom burnout, it is no more complicated than simply going for a walk in your local woods, park or forest, without any technology and observing your surroundings.

Scientists claim that two hours of shinrin-yoku can reduce your blood pressure and cortisol, and improve your concentration and memory. So, if you can bear to step away from TikTok and leave your headphones at home for your Hot Girl Walk, you could really reap the benefits.

How does it work?

You don’t need any equipment – just comfy shoes to walk in – and an open mind.

It’s no different to going for a walk in your local woodland, except in this instance you’re focusing on the natural world around you, rather than your pace, or the number of steps you’re doing.

We recommend picking a quieter time of the day, like early mornings or weekday afternoons, so that there are fewer people around and you’re better able to focus.

All you need to do is set off on your work, unencumbered by technology (so no headphones) and observe the world around you. Take in the sounds of the birds, the smell of the rain, the deep colours of the different types of trees.

Walk at a slower pace, enjoy the time out and the time to yourself, and really try to unwind from your day-to-day.

Although you can take the kids to introduce them to the practice, Forest Bathing is best done alone. However, it’s really important that you do take your phone with you (even though it’ll be switched off and in your bag) – just in case you need to call for help – and always let someone know where you’re going.

So where can you do it in the North East?

You can forest bathe in any green space, as long as you take the time to observe the sights, sounds and smells of the nature around you – and we’re really lucky to have beautiful green spaces in abundance in the North East.

Here are some of our top recommendations…

High Life North

Hamsterley Forest, County Durham

Location: DL13 3NL

Parking: On-site car park, payable with cash, card, app and phone. 

An extensive network of trails makes Forest Bathing easy at Hamsterley Forest.

Try the magical Three Becks Walk, and wander 7km through the forest, taking in the beauty of the birch trees and the sounds of trickling water.


High Life North

Jesmond Dene, Newcastle 

Location: NE7 7BQ

Parking: Parking available on Red Walk and Benton Bank

City-dwellers don’t need to go far to find this tranquil oasis on the edge of Newcastle.

Follow the river Ouseburn, listening to the sounds of the waterfalls, and taking in the beauty of the ample native and exotic trees. It’s also a haven for wildlife – you might even spot a Red Squirrel.


High Life North

Chopwell Wood, Gateshead

Location: NE39 1LT

Parking: Free parking available on site

Chopwell Wood, on the edge of Gateshead is set in 360 acres of mixed woodland.

It’s a great place to take the kids to try Forest Bathing, as there’s an easy-access trail with no inclines and a specially laid surface.

There’s also a great picnic area where you can relax and reflect on your experience.


High Life North

Thrunton Wood, Northumberland 

Location: NE66 4SD

Parking: Free parking available on site

If you’re looking for a more challenging walk to go alongside your Shinrin-Yoku, then Thrunton Wood is a great shout.

The Castle Hill walk spans 5 miles, which includes a long ascent through the forest, where you’ll have ample opportunity to reconnect with nature through this sensory experience.

Plus, at the end of your walk you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Cheviots.


High Life North

Cragside, Northumberland

Location: NE65 7PX

Parking: There are 7 payable carparks at Cragside, free with a National Trust membership

Cragside was practically designed for Forest Bathing.

Its 40-mile network of walking trails have options for short, easy walks and more challenging hikes, and you’ll be taken under a canopy of trees, through rugged rocks and alongside sparkling lakes.

The Gun Walk is 3 miles long and is perfect for forest bathing as you’ll experience the diverse delights of Cragside, including the Rhododendron tunnels.


High Life North

Guisborough Forest, Teesside

Location: TS14 8HD

Parking: The car park at Guisborough Forest is council-owned, priced up for £4.00 to park all day. 

Nestled between Teesside and the North York Moors, Guisborough Forest has three walking trails that are perfect for relaxing, connecting to nature and getting lost in the trees.

If you’re a little anxious about walking in the forest alone, they offer some great regular events such as Nature Journalling and Tai Chi as part of its ‘Feel Good in the Forest’ project.


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Laura Kingston
Founder and Editor

Laura is the Founder and Editor of High Life North. She had the idea to set up an exclusively digital women’s magazine after feeling there was a gap in the market in the North East. With over 10 years of experience in marketing and PR, Laura had a very clear…


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