Being outside and among nature has provided a lifeline to so many people since the Coronavirus pandemic hit – with plenty of gorgeous green spaces and natural beauty spots, perfect for taking some time out to boost our wellbeing, right here in Gloucestershire.
From forest bathing in ancient woodlands to noticing beautiful butterflies pass by, discover some top local spots for those all-important mindful moments with SoGlos’s latest hot list – sponsored by Westonbirt Arboretum.
Home to botanical species from all over the world, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum near Tetbury is a much-loved outdoor attraction that attracts families and nature lovers from across Gloucestershire and beyond.
This summer is all about wellbeing at Westonbirt, with the arboretum encouraging visitors to reconnect with nature, offering insightful tips and ideas to help them boost their wellbeing.
For more information, visit forestryenglad.uk/westonbirt/wellbeing.
Whether it’s letting loose with the little ones, walking with your dog or exercising in the great outdoors, Westonbirt wants to help visitors to boost their wellbeing in a way that works for them.
Some of its top tips include being present in the moment, taking notice of everything from the sound of the wind through the tree to nature’s geometric patterns while exploring the arboretum; or connecting with others, walking and talking with a friend or even striking up a conversation with one of Westonbirt’s friendly volunteers.
Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or prefer to take things at a slower pace, regular physical activity is proven to help to lower rates of anxiety and depression in people of all ages.
Get your heart rate up at Westonbirt Arboretum, with plenty of short walks all under one mile long, as well as exercise classes and forest running routes to release those endorphins. And for the ultimate challenge, take on a 5k or 10k Forest Runner route in September 2021 – with a route starting at Mallards Pike in the Forest of Dean, too.
With stunning sculptures to spot in the natural landscape, the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail provides plenty of opportunities for peace, quiet and reflection as you admire artwork along the four-and-a-half-mile route.
And, new for 2021, Forest to Forest is a shorter, family-friendly trail that celebrates the nature of the woodland and its native flora and fauna. Visitors can see eight new sculptures, including tree-hugging arms and colourful totems that speak to the relationship between humans and the natural world.
Helping people to connect with nature, ‘forest bathing’ is the Japanese practice of being still among the trees, taking deep, calming breaths and quietly observing the nature around you.
From the magical trees of Westonbirt to the ancient Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire is full of woodland to try the Japanese method out for yourself. Soak up the old beech trees in Frith Wood near Stroud; escape the bustle of Cheltenham to nearby Lineover Wood; or see wonderful wild flowers at Dymock Woods on the Herefordshire border.
Take a moment to pause and notice the wildlife all around you when wandering through Gloucestershire’s glorious countryside. From the Highland cattle on Minchinhampton and Rodborough Common to the rare bats that call Woodchester Park home, the county is home to many creatures to share a mindful moment with.
There are also two butterfly reserves in Gloucestershire, with the chance to see fluttering flashes of colour when strolling through Rough Bank in Miserden or exploring Prestbury Hill Butterfly Reserve on the outskirts of Cheltenham.
Cameras at the ready! Working on your photography skills can help you to become more mindful as you tune into your surroundings and focus on the present moment to get that perfect shot.
And budding photographers can get some Insta-worthy snaps across Gloucestershire, with landmarks like Tyndale Monument and Broadway Tower offering a picture-perfect place to practice being more mindful, all while channelling your creativity.
Broadening your mind and learning something new can give you a huge mental boost – and engaging with local history to uncover some fascinating facts about the county’s past is a great place to start.
There are lots of historical sites in Gloucestershire’s countryside, with Chedworth Villa and Great Witcombe Roman Villa giving a taste of Roman Britain, medieval ruins at Hailes Abbey, and Iron Age fortifications to see at Greystones Farm Nature Reserve in Bouton-on-the-Water.
For more information about Wellbeing at Westonbirt, visit forestryenglad.uk/westonbirt/wellbeing.
By Annabel Lammas
Wednesday 04 August 2021
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