New Freedom Awaits activities created by Visit Dean Wye as part of the Find Your Freedom campaign

Does your body and soul need a good spring cleaning? Now is the time to get out into nature and enjoy the beauty and freedom of the great outdoors.

And what better place to do it than Gloucestershire’s own ancient woodland, where you can wander unhindered over 200 square miles and among over 20 million trees. A new Freedom Awaits route has been created by Visit Dean Wye as part of their Find Your Freedom campaign for people to discover – or rediscover – all that the Forest of Dean has to offer.

Activities range from the Japanese art of forest bathing and mindful photographic walks to wildlife safaris and pod floating, or you can stick to the more ordinary pursuits of walking, biking, canoeing and fishing. The forest is the perfect place, which is to walk slowly while soaking up the special atmosphere under the leafy canopy. Join Carina from Forest Bathe for a session of the Japanese custom of Shinrin-yoku, also known as forest bathing, with each session topped off with herbal tea and healthy snacks.

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For a faster way to get around, hop on an e-bike or mountain bike rented from Wye-Bikes and choose one of the many routes, including the Family Cycle Trail, which follows a disused rail network with multiple trailheads, or for a more thrilling ride try the Verderers Trail, recently voted England’s best blue trail by Mountain Biking UK.

A mindful photo walk with the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley School of Photography is a forensic way to see trees in all their beauty and readjust the eye to enhance skills and creativity.

The River Wye flows through verdant farmland

Wildlife is the beating heart of the forest, so set off at dusk with Ed Drewitt on a fast-paced walking safari in search of tawny owls, kingfishers, fallow deer, mandarin ducks and other more elusive creatures . For a walk on the wild side with a difference, meet a llama at Briery Hill Farm and hike through the trees with the Briery Hill llamas, or head to Nagshead RSPB Nature Reserve near Parkend to spot a variety of birds from hides or follow marked trails.

Although the forest is famous for its incredible woodland, it is also home to the beautiful Rivers Severn and Wye, as well as numerous lakes, streams and ponds. Cast your line in spring-fed waters at Broadstone Fisheries near Coleford or visit Woorgreens Lake and Nature Reserve to look for dragonflies and birds.

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For ultimate relaxation, book a session with Float in the Forest in Whitecroft and get cozy in a private space-age capsule filled with body-temperature water saturated with Epsom salts for a dreamy feeling of weightlessness, of absolute stillness and silence. Or simply head to one of the many soul-purifying viewpoints to walk, soak up the natural beauty of the area, and take photos to cherish.

May Hill near Longhope is a familiar landmark with its nearly circular mound and crown of trees at its peak. It sits just off Wysis Way and its wild open spaces offer magnificent 360 degree views of three counties, including stunning sunrises or sunsets.

Learn more here.

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