♦ For­est-bather Dr Qing Li,

Find­ing our feet on the lush, wild trails of St Lu­cia; mak­ing the most of the Welsh coast; and keep­ing dry while bathing in the forests of China – our ex­perts put you in the know…

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Brazil - Got a hot travel ques­tion? Email fromtheroad@wan­der­lust.co.uk and we’ll ask our ex­perts

QHik­ing the Pi­tons in St Lu­cia is on my list of must-dos, but what other wild walk­ing routes are worth un­der­tak­ing on the Caribbean is­land?

Matthew Thorn­ton, via email


Hik­ing the mag­nif­i­cent Pi­tons should be top of your list, and the re­ward for do­ing so are some tremen­dous views of the south coast as it hugs the bril­liantly blue Caribbean Sea. How­ever, of the twin vol­canic peaks, it’s only the higher Gros Pi­ton that has a laid-out hik­ing trail (2–3 hours each way); the ex­tremely steep Petit Pi­ton is too dan­ger­ous to at­tempt.

Else­where, St Lu­cia’s Forestry Depart­ment main­tains an ex­cel­lent net­work of quiet trails in the lush, moun­tain­ous in­te­rior of the is­land – per­mits are found at the trail­heads. First, try the cir­cu­lar 5km Forestiere Rain­for­est Trail, hik­ing past gi­ant figs and ferns with glimpses of both the Caribbean and At­lantic coasts. Or there’s the 4km Des Cartiers Rain­for­est Trail, which ploughs high-canopied ma­ture trees that are great for bird­watch­ing (look out for the rare en­demic St Lu­cia par­rot).

The 1.6km out-and-back Barre de L’isle Rain­for­est Trail fol­lows a high, densely-wooded ridge that di­vides the east and west sides of the is­land, while the 4km-long En­bas Saut Waterfalls Trail also has fine cas­cades and bathing pools.

Fi­nally, af­ter scal­ing Gros Pi­ton, con­sider the far eas­ier 45-minute com­mu­nity-run Tet Paul Na­ture Trail. Its wooden steps (dubbed the ‘Stair­way to Heaven’) take you to an ex­tra­or­di­nary plat­form that gazes past the ‘cleav­age’ of the emer­ald­green rises of the Pi­tons, and on a clear day you can just about make out Mar­tinique and St Vin­cent, too.

Lizzie Wil­liams, au­thor of Foot­print’s St Lu­cia & Do­minica hand­book

Q This year in Wales is the ‘Year of the Sea’. What trea­sures can I spot along its coast­line?

Rox­anne Howard, via email


Na­ture as­serts it­self in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion along the Welsh coast, with the likes of Merthyr Mawr – home to the sec­ond-high­est sand dune in Europe – the ex­hil­a­rat­ing South Stack sea cliffs of An­gle­sey and tidal is­land Worm’s Head, off the glo­ri­ous Gower Penin­sula, all a world apart in terms of sights.

The beaches of Wales – Mwnt (a per­sonal favourite), Aberdyfi, Bara­fun­dle Bay and Porth Oer among oth­ers – also rank along­side the finest in Bri­tain, if not Europe. Cu­riosi­ties lurk, too, and none more so than at Borth, where a pet­ri­fied for­est has lain submerged un­der lay­ers of peat for mil­len­nia, re­veal­ing it­self only at low tide.

There’s abun­dant wildlife, of course, with bot­tlenose dol­phins to be found around Cardi­gan Bay, puffins on Skomer and storm pe­trels on Skokholm. And from a cul­tural per­spec­tive, the Ital­ianate, fan­tasy vil­lage of Port­meirion is a star­tling an­ti­dote to some of the coast’s more traditional sea­side destinations, such as Aberys­t­wyth and Llan­dudno – the lat­ter is still a rather hand­some, if slightly old­fash­ioned, prom and pier re­sort.

Else­where, coast-bound cas­tles at Har­lech and Beau­maris are es­pe­cially su­perb ex­am­ples of the gar­gan­tuan fortresses con­structed by Edward I as part of his for­mi­da­ble Iron Ring. In­deed, with enough time (and no lit­tle in­cli­na­tion), it’s now pos­si­ble to walk the en­tire Wales Coast Path – yep, all 1,400km of it – and in­dulge your­self in its many ex­tra­or­di­nary trea­sures.

Norm Lon­g­ley, co-au­thor of Rough Guide to Wales guide­book

Q I’d like to get back to na­ture without hav­ing to hike for count­less hours through bush or go ‘wild swim­ming’. Is there a gen­tle yet ad­ven­tur­ous al­ter­na­tive?

Charles Har­ri­son, via email


Here in Ja­pan, we have a prac­tice called shin­rin-yoku, which trans­lates as ‘for­est bathing’. No wa­ter is re­quired for this type of bathing, how­ever! It sim­ply re­quires spend­ing time in the for­est to pro­mote good health.

The prac­tice orig­i­nated in Ja­pan in the 1980s as a na­tional health ser­vice ini­tia­tive, and now there are for­est bathing cen­tres all over the coun­try. It has been proven to lower stress, help with anxiety and de­pres­sion, boost en­ergy and the im­mune sys­tem, and it can even pro­mote longer sleep.

You can for­est-bathe any­where, though. Af­ter all, Ja­pan spans a va­ri­ety of cli­mates, from chilly Hokkaido to the sub­trop­i­cal forests of the south. Some of my favourites are ac­tu­ally found in China, such as Zhangji­a­jie’s Tian­men­shan Na­tional For­est Park, where the movie Avatar was filmed, or Shi­men Na­tional For­est Park in Guangzhou. Per­fect ‘bathing’ spots.

Dr Qing Li, au­thor of Pen­guin Life’s Shin­rin-yoku: The Art and Science of For­est Bathing

Who is num­ber one? ( clock­wise from this) The Welsh vil­lage of Port­meirion was used as a set for cult 1960s TV show The Prisoner; a bit of for­est bathing; the twin Pi­tons tower over scenic St Lu­cia

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