Connect with nature this winter

News – 14 October 2022

Autumn is a beautiful season, but with many of us feeling the pressure of the current cost of living crisis, we may not be paying enough attention to our own wellbeing. But by nurturing our wellbeing, we can boost our resilience and even have some fun along the way.

Grand Union promotes five simple areas of life that we can all work on to improve our wellbeing:

Picking up on three of these themes (be active, take notice, keep learning), we’d encourage you to get outdoors and re-connect with nature. There’s a huge amount of evidence to show that nature is good for us, and sometimes we just forget to take notice – the colours of the autumn leaves, the sight and sound of birds in the garden, the stars in the night sky.

Sue Stuart-Smith covers the topic in her book ‘The Well Gardened Mind’ and reminds us of the following fact:

People have lived in densely built cities for only around six generations, whereas they have lived close to nature for 350,000 generations.

The mental health charity Mind summarises some of the benefits of nature on their website:

  • improves your mood and helps you feel more relaxed
  • reduces feelings of stress and anger
  • improves confidence and self esteem
  • helps you be more active and improves physical health
  • reduces loneliness and helps you meet new people.

If you’ve a few hours to spare over winter, remember that a dull day viewed from inside can often be surprisingly pleasant if you wrap up and go out.

Mind also share their ideas too – you can go for a walk, eat outside, go geocaching, try stargazing, collect conkers, do a spot of gardening, splash in muddy puddles in your wellies or walk the dog. You can visit local parks, nature reserves or walk or cycle alongside canals. Nature provides you with a fabulous outdoor playground of (quite often free) entertainment.

Most people will know of parks local to their area, but there are many hidden gems, in particular nature reserves, that are harder to find. Many of these will have interpretation boards that explain a bit about local wildlife that you may expect to see.

In Bedfordshire, Central Bedfordshire Council have information on their website about visiting the countryside. Use the walking tab to find a list of recommended walks, many of them circular, or the countryside sites tab to search for nature reserves. Cutting through the county is the Greensands Ridge, which offers may additional opportunities for exploration.

Bedford Borough Council have published a list of nature reserves as well as information on circular and longer-distance walks.

While they are still developing the full websites, both West and North Northamptonshire have information on parks and open spaces. If you want to walk on good quality tracks without getting lost, then Northamptonshire boast long lengths of towpath alongside the Grand Union Canal.

Canal towpaths are also accessible in Milton Keynes and added to this, the Get Around MK website has lots of information on walking and cycling.

To find out about local nature and to visit a local site, the Wildlife Trust are excellent sources of information. Use the following link to find information on your local area.

Whatever you choose, keep warm, stay safe and enjoy!