Summer may be over but that doesn’t mean that it’s time to hibernate, which so many of us naturally feel like doing at this time of year.
It can be difficult to adjust to the cooler climate and the shorter days and that can make us feel less enthusiastic or energetic than usual.
It’s thought ‘the winter blues’, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs seasonally, affects around 2 million people in the UK. Some of the practical ways recommended by health professionals to help combat SAD are to spend time with family and friends, keep active, keep warm and get outside into natural sunlight so why not gather your nearest and dearest, wrap up warm and get outside in the fresh air for a refreshing and restorative walk? Here are a few our favourites.
- Avenue Washlands’ scenic green oasis is so rich in wildlife that you would never know that the former coking works on which the reserve is now located was reckoned to be the most contaminated site in Europe. Enjoy a 20 minute stroll around the park or linger a little longer to witness the diverse range of thriving wildlife from the special viewing platforms all around the site.
- Home to specially recreated limestone grassland, Brook Park in Mansfield in provides a rich haven for diverse wildlife and a welcoming green corridor to the wider community woodland. Pathways throughout the park provide the freedom to amble through the 19 hectares of woodland and admire the rich autumnal colours of the trees whilst whiling away an hour or two.
- If you wish to extend your walk a little further from Brook Park, try our walking route which takes you to Pleasley Pit, a restored historic pit building surrounded by a nature reserve containing a wide variety of habitats and Magnesian limestone grassland where wildflowers thrive and a local herd of Hebridean sheep graze. Although this route is over 6 miles long (should take around 3 ½ hours at a leisurely pace), you can look forward to refreshment and a friendly welcome at the end of your walk at Pleasley Pit Visitors Centre run by Pleasley Pit Trust.
- Northumberlandia is a unique piece of public art set in a 19-hectare community park providing free public access, with four miles of footpaths on and around the landform. The park’s centrepiece is ‘The Lady of the North’, a stunning human landform sculpture of a reclining lady, scaling 100 feet in height and spanning a quarter of a mile.
- Elba Park is a haven for wildlife and home to a number of fascinating, original pieces of artwork commemorating the site’s industrial and mining heritage, so whether you’re looking for a circular stroll, a heritage hunt or a wildlife wander, there are 53 hectares of attractive green space to explore and enjoy at your leisure.
- Formerly a cokeworks, Monkton Community Woodland spans 4.5km of tracks, with four woodland paths and more than 30,000 trees and shrubs, providing vital links between communities and a wonderful network of green spaces and wildlife. Enjoy a cruise around The Crusher or saunter along Spuggies Stroll and keep an eye out for two award winning sculptures ‘The Swarm’ and ‘The Hive’.
- Davy Down provides a great opportunity to explore and enjoy the countryside on your doorstep. A half hour walk through this part of the Mardyke Valley and Thames Chase Community Forest will stretch your legs and relax the mind. Enjoy the freedom of wandering through the wide open green space, be sure to visit the Stifford Pumping Station along the way and don’t forget to make some time to sit and rest on the banks of the river for a while and watch the Kingfishers fly by.
- Autumn is a naturally scenic season and the one thing we all associate with Autumn is the changing colour of the trees before they shed their leaves. The spectrum of bright reds, golds and oranges is a fantastic sight and Wellesley Woodlands in Aldershot is the perfect place to enjoy it. Wander along the Sycamore trail, a 1.1km circular route that guides you around the large freshwater lakes at Chalk Farm and through the beautiful wooded areas that surround the lake or follow the Chestnut Trail for 1.6km through the spectacular woodland of Duke’s Wood. If you want to explore the further reaches of Wellesley Woodlands, the Willow Trail, the longest of the trails at 9.4km, offers excellent views over the Basingstoke Canal as it leads you along the canal towpath and links many of the different trails within Wellesley Woodlands such as the Oak, Plane and Beech trails.
- On a crisp Autumn day, a circular walk around Port Sunlight River Park is a wonderful way to spend a few hours. Stop at the Dock and watch the ships on the river, enjoy the sound of woodland birds singing in the trees and admire the sculptures on your way up to the 37m high hill where your reward is unrivalled views across the River Mersey, Wirral and North Wales.
Autumn Colours at Pleasley Pit
Lady walking dog in Wellesley Woodlands. Copyright Andy McKenna
The frozen lake in winter
Wellesley Woodlands in the Autumn. Copyright Andy McKenna
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For some children it's probably their first encounter with wildlife, so for them it's a really good educational place.
Emily, Site Ranger, Bentley Community Woodland
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