Friday 22 February 2008

Salcey Forest, near Hartwell, Northamptonshire

Given over to recreation, this is a large and popular tract of ancient woodland bordering the M1 motorway, laced with marked walks, cycle-ways and even orienteering routes. From the large car park it is less than a mile to a substantial wooden walkway that rises gradually from the ground to a vertiginous viewing platform above the treetops. From there you can see the sprawl of Northampton in the distance and the flattish and mostly featureless countryside beyond the wood. Although it is supported by steel poles, the steady stream of pedestrians can make the walkway move up and down alarmingly. Near the main car park is an imaginative children's playground with some unusual wooden kit and a cafe selling good baked potatoes and sandwiches for a few quid each. The cafe doesn't accept cards and there can be long queues to order at weekends. Moreover, most of the tables are outside, meaning even a hot drink won't necessarily warm up you up. But Salcey is worth a visit for the treetop walk alone. 7/10