Nothing quite beats woodland for inspiring that back-to-nature feeling.
And, increasingly, more and more of us are happy to buy our own patch even if there is no property to go with it.
According to the specialist company Woods4Sale, owning woodland — for weekend jaunts, rather than to build on — is a growing market.
Leafy abode: Galewood House near Cambridge is on the market at £1.65million
‘Our buyers usually want a piece of land which is both a sound investment and something they can enjoy with their children,’ says Wood4Sale’s managing director, Joe Fielding, who claims sales have more than doubled since 2012.
Woodland can be bought either as part of the grounds of a property or as a stand-alone entity, with no dwellings on it.
When the writer and broadcaster Robert Penn moved to his cottage in the Black Mountains of South Wales 14 years ago, he hardly noticed the three acres of woodland it came with.
Yet it later became a passion that inspired him to make a television series for BBC4 about bringing an ancient wood back under management.
He also wrote a book Woods: A Celebration (Pavilion Books).
‘Working in the woods is profoundly satisfying,’ says Penn, 50, who is best known for partnering ex-cricketer Freddie Flintoff around Britain in a fish and chip van.
‘It’s something I look forward to, rather than a chore. I see the seasons change, feel in touch with nature and there are physical benefits you don’t get from the gym.’
Penn’s year-round list of tasks includes thinning out the weaker trees and planting new oak, cherry and hornbeam, while leaving dead timber on the ground.
As a result, wild flowers such as celandines, stitchwort, foxgloves and bluebells spring to life wherever sunlight falls.
‘It’s important to make holes in the canopy,’ says Penn, who is also patron of the Small Woods Association.
‘If you don’t, then the wood will become dark and dank, and you’ll damage the biodiversity.’
Richard Freshwater, director of estate agents Cheffins, says: ‘Woodland included within the grounds of a property adds to its desirability for various reasons.
Warm welcome: Fuel your woodburners with logs from your own 2.5 acres of mature woodland, in this detatched four-bedroom house, near Loch Ness
‘If you are looking for privacy, it will help hide you away from neighbours and give added levels of peace and quiet.
‘For those with children, the possibilities for fun are endless.
‘There are also practical benefits such as being able to chop your own firewood.’
Local wildlife can also enhance the appeal of a property.
Galewood House, (cheffins.co.uk) priced at £1.65million, is an Arts & Crafts house near Cambridge, virtually surrounded by woodland, which has created a wildlife haven.
‘We have buzzards, kestrels and tawny owls, which have successfully bred owlets,’ says Doug Clarke, a retired IT executive who has owned the house for 34 years.
‘We often see foxes, muntjac and badgers.’
The cost of buying woodland without a property on it, varies greatly.
Stop over: Stentwood Coach House is a four-bedroom modernised Victorian coach house in Honiton. It has 14 acres of mixed native woodland in its 20 acres of grounds
You may pay as much as £10,000 an acre for a well-managed broadleaf woodland in Kent, while you could get a mixed conifer and broadleaf woodland in Powys for as little as £2,000 an acre.
The Lake District is much sought after — especially near the central or southern lakes. Earlier this year a 1.9 acre patch near Lake Windermere sold for £40,000 at auction: a cost of about £21,000 an acre.
‘People buy woodland here for the tranquillity and the views,’ says Mark Barrow, a chartered surveyor with H&H Land and Property.
‘One buyer from Liverpool catches a train here most weekends, just to walk around in his own little piece of the Lake District.’
James Greenwood, at Stacks Property Search, has clients who buy houses in woodland to benefit their health.
‘Some see purchasing woodland as the equivalent of having their own personal health spa,’ he says.
The sale of Haws House, a nine-bedroom detached home near Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria, offers an attractive extra option.
The house and one acre of grounds is for sale at £595,000 (michael-cl-hodgson.co.uk).
There is also the chance to buy the adjoining 11.8 acres of pasture and woodland, which could make a good money-spinner.
Picture perfect: Arts & Crafts house, Woodland Court, near the South Downs National Park, comes with nine acres of land including woodland
Small woodlands, run on a commercial basis, can make lucrative investments.
Figures from the Forestry index show returns from woodland have averaged about eight per cent for the past 20 years, though this is more due to the escalating price of land than the increased value of timber.
There are also tax benefits.
Profit from commercial woodland is tax free and any gains made on the value of the forest are exempt from capital gains tax.
On the debit side, small woods will require public liability insurance and cover for storm and fire damage.
Add to that the maintenance costs, and a small patch of woods may prove to be a solid investment, but it is unlikely to make you a fortune.
However, that is not what interests woodland enthusiasts.
‘The woods are great for the children,’ says Penn.
‘And, having watched me care for the environment, hopefully they will do the same in years to come.’