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New Year's Resolutions to help you have your best year ever in the National Forest

Friday, 22nd December 2017

Why not make 2018 your year for positive resolutions, and make the most of the National Forest to help you get fitter, more creative and get more out of life.

Focus on the detail – walk a daily route and notice the tiny differences which mark the changing seasons. The buds are already on the trees, watch them swell and break open, observe the leaves and flowers unfurling. Snowy day? Look for animal tracks and discover what’s been out and about before you were even out of bed.

Take a longer view - chose a route through the Forest and walk it each month.  Notice the changes in the air, the light, the view, the undergrowth at the woodland edge; what you can hear or see, what you can smell or touch. www.visitnationalforest.co.uk/walks

Capture the difference – choose your favourite tree or view and take a picture of it each month.

Hug a tree-trunk – seek out one of the iconic National Forest Noon Columns, to be celebrated in July at the National Forest’s Timber festival. International artist David Nash created six marvellous sculptures, each one made from a single massive trunk of oak, each standing in a different part of the landscape in the National Forest. At True Noon each day, sunlight moves through a slot carved into the Column and shines a beam of light on the shadow cast by the Column itself.  http://www.landshapes.org/newsandevents/news/Physicalprojects.php

Start a nature journal - write down what you see. Sketch some of the natural features of the great outdoors. Write down what you hear: try recording birdsong in words or rhythm on the page, so that you can learn it and recognise it again.

Collect ‘jewels’- seek out the snowdrops at Dimminsdale Nature Reserve; see carpets of bluebells at Lodge Hill Bluebells at Yoxall; marvel at the veteran oaks at Calke Park, their tiny buds brown as a hare; enjoy the bright spring green of unfurling leaves, the dusty yellow hazel catkins, or tiny ruby flowers of the alder. Look for kingfishers at the National Memorial Arboretum, Sence Valley Forest Park or skimming at the edges of the reservoirs in the Forest.

Get your hands muddy – take the kids pond dipping or mini beast hunting. Mini beasts live in undisturbed corners of woodlands (and gardens).  Remember to always replace dead wood or stones where you find them  – they are probably someone’s home.

Make something - try your hand at a range of new skills, so you can create a treat, for you…or someone else!

Have a go at Windsor Chair making, contemporary willow sculpting, longbow making and spoon carving at Greenwood Days. Set in a beautiful 90 acre woodland on the Leicestershire/Derbyshire border, Greenwood days has just picked up the ‘Best Woodland Courses’ award from woodlands.co.uk

Or you can come along and visit Woodland Survival Crafts, which offers a range of courses designed to educate, challenge and inspire both young and old. From foraging in the Forest to outdoor cooking and shelter building – you’ll gain a brand new set of skills in 2018!

Plant a Tree, of course!  www.nationalforest.org/sponsor/plantatree/

Join a volunteer group and help look after a local woodland www.nationalforest.org/involved/volunteering/

Or sign up to volunteer and be part of Timber festival in the heart of the Forest in July.

Free gym – the National Forest has hundreds of woodlands waiting for you to explore. Pick a woodland close to you, time yourself walking around it, and each week try and complete your walk a little faster. www.visitnationalforest.co.uk/woods

Take a Mystery Tour - find a map of the National Forest, shut your eyes, randomly pick a spot – go explore!

Join a local running club – they’ll introduce you to places in the Forest you never knew existed!

Challenge yourself – take up the #1000 miles Country Walking challenge and use this as a chance to explore the woodlands, or set your sights on one of the cycling sportives that run through the Forest.

Walk the National Forest Way – this 75-mile long distance trail takes in all the varied landscapes of this unique Forest. Suitable for experienced and beginner walkers alike, it can be walked in separate stages. Find out more at www.nationalforestway.co.uk