Forest bathing at Wildnispark Zurich - Sihlwald

Wildnispark Zurich is close to the city yet offers visitors forest bathing in the frothy depths of magnificent woodland. 

Green... Leafy lashings of it. Bright sunlight dapples trees in shades of pea, forest and mint and splashes through onto the woodland floor. It is a chaotic tapestry designed by nature's hand - and here, left to roam free. The trees are not felled, but left to grow tall and proud, acting as homes to singing birdlife and buzzing insects.

This is the Wildnispark Zurich in Sihlwald, where it flanks the glittering, gushing River Sihl and the railway towards southern Switzerland. On this capricious April Sunday, there is nowhere better to be than the woods. From the smart visitor centre, a path winds steeply up into dense woodland, a riot of silver birch, sycamore, larch and copper beech. Trees that have fallen naturally tangle among living counterparts.

Along the route (the 2km "Erlebnispfad") there are activity stations to encourage visitors to engage with the forest. Among them is a humming stone and a long jump, but my favourite is the barefoot path. I eagerly slip off my shoes and do several circuits over the bark, pine cones and pebbles. It's a cooling massage, and boosts circulation to my feet so much that afterwards I feel like I am walking on air. I'm on a natural high too - this is surely the Japanese art of forest bathing at its finest.

Simply being in the woodland is enough, though. Baby Albie gazes up with wide eyes at the sun-dappled canopy, but we adults are in awe too. The stillness and natural beauty are a world away yet not far from Zurich.

Close to the visitor centre again, we picnic in a vast barn set with picnic benches and watch as the weather travels past as quickly as the current in the river. Sunshine, sleet and rain dancing over the twinkling woodland.

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