It’s perhaps surprising that so few of us live surrounded by trees. We are, after all, apes and our ancestors swung around in the branches for far longer than their descendants have used two legs to walk on terra firma.
What’s more, trees give most of us a feeling of serenity and connectedness with our environment that few other things can match.
In fact, the Japanese practice of shinrin-roku, or forest-bathing, is believed to have very real health benefits, including lowering the heart-rate and blood pressure, reducing stress hormone production, boosting the immune system, and improving mental health.
Last week the Woodland Trust suggested – not for the first time – that forest-bathing should be among a range of non-medical activities recommended by doctors to improve patients’ sense of well-being.
Such ‘social prescribing’, which can also include gardening, volunteering and sport, is a growing phenomenon within the NHS, and doctors in Japan have been sending patients to wander around in the woods for years.
One way to enjoy the benefits of tree therapy without having to roam too far is by having your very own patch of woodland. The following three properties all do, and are currently for sale in our area.
One of six houses at Barrowby Woods, Low House is approached via a driveway that meanders through protected woodland – little wonder it was formerly used as a religious retreat. The house was built in 2002 on the site of a smaller property and has subsequently been extended and refitted by the current owners. It now has five bedrooms, one of them with a balcony to the front of the house, four bathrooms, entrance hall, open-plan dining kitchen, utility room, study and two reception rooms, one of them with views over Lower Wharfedale towards Otley Chevin, with Ilkley Moor in the distance.
Outside, there’s an adjoining double garage accessible from the house, plus 2.78 acres of gardens and grounds, including a terrace, lawns and woods.
North Barn is one of just three properties down a private lane near Darley in Nidderdale. The Grade II listed barn conversion, complete with vaulted ceilings and exposed beams, has a master bedroom suite with split-level dressing room, sauna and en-suite bathroom with separate shower/steam room enclosure and bath, plus three other bedrooms and a house bathroom. Downstairs, there’s a reception hall with solid oak flooring, underfloor heating and a glass wine store, plus large kitchen with stone-flagged flooring, two reception rooms, utility room and study.
Outside, the gardens look back onto woodland, there’s a one-acre paddock with outbuilding/stable, and a detached double garage.
Finally, Strawberry Cottage is a stone-built semi-detached house on the edge of Bishop Monkton. It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, large entrance hall, kitchen-diner, two reception rooms and cellar space. Outside, there are 1.7 acres of gardens and woodland, a detached double garage and stores. The woodland is accessed from the rear corner of the gardens with separate vehicular access via the front lane.