Enjoy nature across Hampshire – Mental Health Awareness Week 2021
This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week campaign is focusing on Nature. The pandemic has seen long months of feeling very isolated for millions of individuals across the UK, many people turned to nature for comfort and clarity. Whether that be through daily walks, gardening or simply watching the birds from the window.
Mental Health Foundation found that in their research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic it showed that going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health. Websites which showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.
As we ease out of restrictions it is still so important that we hold on to the impact nature can have on our mental wellbeing. There are many beautiful spaces across Hampshire where you can enjoy nature. We have put together a list of our top 5:
1. New Forest National Park:
Situated in the New Forest, the park is known for its heathland, forest trails and native ponies. You can take or hire a bike and enjoy the many trails it has to offer. There is plenty of areas for light walks and picnics with friends and family. In the area there is also Exbury Gardens where you find exotic tree’s and beautiful flowers. Nearby you will also find the New Forest Wildlife Park, home to owls, otters and wolves and many more!
2. Kennet & Avon Canal:
If you enjoy being around water this may be a great option for you. The Kennet and Avon Canal is a waterway from the River Thames at Reading to the Bristol Channel and is 87 miles in length. There are many ways to enjoy nature at the canal, you could hire a boat, ride a bike along the path or enjoy a walk and a drink at the local pubs. Crossing some of England’s most beautiful countryside, there are many spots along the way to relax & enjoy.
3. Micheldever Woods:
Based near Winchester, Micheldever Woods is a lovely 2 mile walking route. It is especially beautiful at this time of year as there is a carpet of bluebells. This trail is not too long and is therefore popular with families, an overall great way to enjoy nature with kids and dogs.
4. Lepe Beach:
Lepe Beach is a stony beach in Lepe Country Park, situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You can enjoy views across to the Isle of Wight and excellent coastal walks and wild flower meadows. As the weather warms up you can take part in water sports or swimming at the beach too, another fantastic place to take children. Water can be very calming, a great place to reflect and unwind & this would be a lovely place to do just that.
5. Moors Valley Country Park and Forest
Experience a ride on an authentic narrow-gauge steam train or even see nature from above at Go Ape on a high wire forest adventure swinging through the tree tops. There are many great trails to walk or cycle as well as a huge play park for families. Moores Valley has coniferous forest, deciduous woodland, lakes, ponds, rivers, meadow and heathland which in turn support a huge variety of wildlife so this is a wonderful spot to see a variety of what nature has to offer.