What is Forest Bathing?

Forest Bathing is a mindfulness practice and form of ecotherapy. The term originates from the Japanese term “Shinrin-yoku” which translates as ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ or ‘forest bathing’.

It emerged out of Japan in the 1980s as the antidote to the country’s tech-boom burnout and to inspire people to reconnect and protect the country’s forests.

With more and more of us experiencing an increase in stress-related symptoms, our beautiful Island, just off the South Coast of the UK, is the perfect place to try out some forest bathing nature therapy.  

Borthwood Copse, Isle of Wight

Forest Bathing improves physical health and wellbeing*

You might find that you feel better when you’ve spent time outside in nature - it turns out that our bodies respond positively at a cellular level.

Nature creates hormonal and chemical changes within our bodies, which positively influences our health and wellbeing. When forest bathing you receive the benefits of the air having more oxygen from the surrounding trees and forest flora.

Forest Bathing has many health and wellbeing benefits including:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety and lifting symptoms related to depression
  • Boosting your immune system
  • Improving concentration and creativity
  • Creating a sense of connection, calm and balance

Experience Forest Bathing

Forest Bathing is not just a walk in the forest, it is best enjoyed as a facilitated experience, where a trained guide can help you engage with your senses, with nature and the world around you, in a way you may never have imagined.

Camp Wight also offer forest bathing sessions, complemented by using the sound of Tibetan singing bowls to increase the positive effects of forest bathing, and deepen the grounding meditative experience.

Being located on the South Coast of the UK, you can reach the Island from the mainland in only 10 minutes aboard a hovercraft from Southsea, or by ferry from Southampton, Portsmouth or Lymington.

The best spots to forest bathe on the Island

Kate Taylor, founder of The Awakening Festival of Wellbeing, shared her favourite woodland and forest spots for forest bathing on the Island:

  • Firestone Copse, which is incredibly peaceful with beautiful paths that wind down to the Old Mill Pond and Wootton Creek.
  • Brighstone Forest, the largest forest on the Island that extends across the central and southwest of the Island which has lots of paths and bridleways as well as dramatic views of the cliffs overlooking the south of the Island.
  • Quarr Wood, in Ryde, which takes you from the peaceful surroundings of Quarr Abbey and winds down woodland paths that take you to the beach overlooking the Solent.
  • Hurst Copse, in Wootton, is a hidden gem which has some parts ancient woodland, where some specimens which are likely to be at least 400 years old and may have even been around since the last Ice Age - around 8000 years ago.
  • Parkhurst Forest is the Island’s second biggest forest, it is partly a site of special scientific interest and has a mixture of ancient woodland, relict heathland, and plantation woods.

Having spent more time around trees than most people, Paul McCathie of Goodleaf Tree Climbing in Ryde can personally vouch for the positive effects of spending time in the woods. Paul says,

“Studies have shown that as little as 20 minutes walking in a forest can have many positive effects on body function including lowering blood pressure.”

Paul’s favourite places for getting in touch with trees on the Island are Borthwood, Firestone Copse, Brighstone and Combley Great Wood.

Brighstone Forest, Isle of Wight

Other wellness activities on the Island

If you’re looking for other ways to relax and rejuvenate during a stay on the Island, here’s a little taste of what else you can do:

The Isle of Wight Walking Festival, from Saturday 8th – Sunday 16th October 2022, is the perfect opportunity for you to enjoy the natural beauty of the Island.

Through a series of professional guided walks of varying skill levels, from casual wanders to hardcore hikes, you will be in the company of expert guides and can chose walks that cover history, coastal and maritime heritage, art and culture, and wildlife.

Book your place today as numbers are limited.

Find your Zen on a yoga retreat

Rediscover your inner tranquillity and leave feeling refreshed and revitalised after a yoga retreat in our beautiful Island setting.

Choose from Nettlecombe Farm yoga retreats, an award-winning self-catering holiday destination tucked away among the rolling fields of Whitwell village, join the Autumn Yoga, Pranayama & Meditation weekend retreat with Yoga Laurent, or sign up for a five-day yoga retreat with Emma, which includes a day of silence to help healing,

At Godshill Farm Park you can avail of private treatments, massage, reiki, and facials to complement your wellbeing experience.

As well as yoga weekends, The Grange by the Sea in Shanklin, also offer writing retreats with acclaimed authors, life coaching, photography, and much more.

Go Wild Swimming

There are many physical health benefits with an outdoor dip, but it can also be a mindful, meditative experience that soothes anxiety.

Surrounded by crystal clear water, you’ll be spoilt for choice on where to go wild swimming on the Island. We’d recommend Sandown Bay, Shanklin or Ventnor Beach, Colwell Bay, and Freshwater Bay.

And for those wanting a truly freeing experience, then Blackgang Naturist Beach is the place to be!

Say Yes to a Sustainable Visit to the Island!

Whatever activity you choose to do to feel relaxed and rejuvenated, find out sustainable ways to travel to and around the Island during your visit here.

*Results of research undertaken in 2007 by Dr Qing Li, a Japanese medical doctor, researcher, and the head of The Japanese Society of Forest Medicine.

Wellness retreat, Isle of Wight