There are many things associated with the UK: tea that solves a multitude of ills, rain that never ceases and queuing that is a national sport in itself. Yet this sceptered isle is also renowned for its green spaces and as such boasts an astonishing fifteen National Parks across the nation.
This month, a week-long calendar of events is taking place to celebrate our National Parks and encourage us to get out and explore them.
From Sunday 22nd to Sunday 29th July a range of activities that the whole family can get involved in will be taking place up and down the country and here at Planteria Group we take a look at what’s going on and why you should get involved.
A Walk on the Wildside
Amongst the many studies that support the theory of the benefits that nature has on our mental health as well as our physical well-being, there is increasing focus on how interaction with animals influences this too.
With that in mind, the wildlife-friendly events organised as part of this week-long festival provide the perfect opportunity to get involved.
If you’re local to Exmoor, why not join the Evening Deer Search for a two-hour walk over three miles looking for the Red Deer at the Exmoor National Park on Tuesday 24th July starting at 7pm? Naturally shy beasts, it might be worth taking binoculars to ensure you catch a glimpse, but no dogs please!
Earlier on in the same day, the Yorkshire Dales National Park hosts a Secret Squirrel event in which a specialist guide will show you how to look for the squirrels and other wildlife that make the peaceful woods their home. Being a gentle afternoon stroll covering just a mile and a half, this is an ideal event for young and old alike.
A fantastic family event takes place on the Thursday of National Parks Week on the Cleveland Way National Trail, part of the North York Moors National Park. Taking around two hours to complete and costing five pounds per family, this fun Geocaching activity involves using a GPS unit provided as part of the event to locate clues that have been hidden in boxes. What’s more, as long as your dogs are on a short lead, they are welcome to help sniff out the clues!
The little ones can take charge with the Young Explorers Smugglers’ Treasure Hunt – with one nearly every day of the event – and use their smugglers’ map to search for hidden treasure, meeting at the Danby centre.
If you fancy something more physical, the Run ‘n’ Park event at Balloch on Saturday 28th July might just be for you; with a 2k and a 5k course marked out taking in the stunning, iconic views of Loch Lomond and with no official recording of times, you can take this event at your own pace and enjoy the great outdoors.
The kids can get involved at the New Forest National Park on each day of the festival on the Holiday Adventure Days. With activities throughout the whole day that they can enjoy, you can guarantee they’ll have a good night’s sleep after all that fun.
If you’re more of a hands-on type of person, there are plenty of great events for you to take advantage of. From dry-stone walling, letter-carving and archery to machine embroidery, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn a new skill in beautiful outdoor settings. Take a look at the diary of events to find an activity near you.
Of course, you don’t have to wait for an official week of events to enjoy our National Parks – nor are you only restricted to visiting a National Park to reap the benefits of spending time outdoors amongst nature.
Dr Andrea Mechelli of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at Kings College London, acknowledges that whilst it has long been understood that there is a positive link between contact with nature and health – in particular mental health – the lack of ability to gather qualitative data has led to little compelling evidence to support this.
With this in mind, he collaborated with the developers of an app called Urban Mind which tracked users’ movements through mobile devices and randomly asked them questions about their feelings and their immediate environment.
The findings were quite staggering, including not only demonstrating this positive link between the outdoors and health but also providing surprising but measurable results in terms of the length of time these positive effects lasted. He found, for example, that a single exposure to nature such as a walk or even time spent in a garden can have beneficial effects lasting up to seven hours.
Additional studies have shown how incorporating a green outdoor space in other settings, such as hospitals and care homes, has had a positive influence on successful outcomes for patients in relation to aiding their ultimate recovery in the case of the former and their improved well-being whilst being cared for in both circumstances.
So, the recent trend for providing an outdoor space in unexpected locations such as offices has been shown to be more than just improving the aesthetics; it can actually have a beneficial emotional impact on employees that can last a whole working day in addition to creating a pleasant environment to take a break and enjoy the visual stimulation, access to vitamin D and peace quiet from the humdrum of an office.
Additionally, these spaces provide an easy talking point that enables colleagues to engage with each other naturally thus improving relationships, whilst also providing handy sustenance and shelter for local wildlife.
The good news is that you don’t have to find the room to recreate the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in order to do this; any amount of space can accommodate an element of nature, from a small collection of pots planted up with flowers, a green ‘living wall’ to a roof garden hosting low-maintenance plants such as lavenders and other scented butterfly attracting plants.
Here at Planteria Group, we specialise in Corporate Floristry to help organisations to provide green spaces for the benefit both of their employees and their customers so to see how we could help you bring nature closer to home – or rather the workplace – get in touch with us.