Travel & Parenting Writer Kate Sheppard on ways to explore nature and reduce stress in 2023.
There are plenty of reasons to spend time in the Great British outdoors; the stunning scenery, the gorgeous wildlife, the rolling hills and the lush forests just to name a few. But did you know that there is an ever increasing amount of evidence that highlights the direct link between mental health and spending time in nature? Indeed research suggests that just 20 to 30 minutes spent in nature each day helps towards improving your mental health and wellness.
Spending time outdoors is known to reduce stress, boost your mood and even lower your risk of depression. Feel your worries slip from your mind as you experience the peace that only nature can bring, and rediscover yourself on your next trip to one of these incredible locations in the UK.
The Lake District is probably one of the most well known spots in the UK- and for good reason. Impossibly English villages squeeze themselves into stunning valleys with soaring peaks all around, roaring rivers cut through deep, rocky valleys and glassy lakes reflect their incredible surroundings. This may be one of the UK’s most visited locations, but in reality you are never too far from proper wilderness – just strap on your hiking boots and have some one-on-one time with Mother Nature.
Among many great places to stay in the area, we're big fans of the excellent Storrs Hall Hotel, which has a position to die for right next to Lake Windermere, lakeside suites and even a converted boathouse for two!
Yorkshire is often referred to as ‘God’s own country’, and once you’ve experienced the Yorkshire Dales you’d be pretty inclined to agree. Dry stone walls surround ancient pastures, thunderously green hills sweep as far as the eye can see and gorgeous little villages with cobbled streets nestle in the valleys offering refuge and countryside comfort. You’ll have no problem finding nature here, it’s on everyone’s doorstep.
As a place to stay, we love Stow House, a stylish B&B set in the middle of some of the national park's most stunning countryside, not far from the scenic Aysgarth Falls.
The Norfolk Broads is one of the UK’s most unique landscapes, and offers a singularly unique opportunity to rediscover nature. Essentially a large wetland packed with birdlife and gorgeous waterways, this expansive area offers incredible views of distant horizons and endless rivers to explore. Water lovers and boat-loving folk of all kinds are attracted to the area for the serenity of the reedy wetlands and the amazing pubs that are scattered throughout the area.
The Ironmongers in the small town of Aylsham, just north of the national park, makes a peaceful place to stay, handy for some of the loveliest and most peaceful reaches of the River Bure, which is best explored by canoe.
If ever you’ve seen a picture of a stunning ivy-clad country pub that looks impossibly cosy- it’s more than likely than not to be in The Cotswolds. The area is littered with gorgeous cottages, stone villages and serene countryside. criss-crossed by endless country lanes. It's popular, but the region's dense forests and sweeping hills make it easy to escape most of the people, and you’ll really be able to rediscover your equilibrium here.Bring the dog and get stuck into some proper countryside ‘me time’.
As far as places to stay go, the wonderful Double Red Duke couldn't be better located, and as well as being very comfortable is about as close to the idyll of peaceful rural England as you could get.
This one may be a little broad, but Devon offers so much it’s really quite hard to suggest one area alone. Rolling hills, jagged coastlines and big blue skies combine to make one of the UK’s most beautiful counties. Enjoy the stunning coastlines and gorgeous beaches; ride the world class waves or head inland and destress in one of two otherworldly National Parks- Exmoor and Dartmoor.
Whether you’re on the beach, riding the waves or exploring the moors & forests, Devon’s countryside and coast will have you on the road to recovery in no time, and there's no better place to base yourself than the Cary Arms & Spa, which has beautiful sea-facing rooms and a wonderful spa.
If you’re looking to spend time on the seaside to benefit from the ocean’s calming effects then Pembrokeshire could well be the place for you.Wild and rugged cliffs give way to sandy beaches and gentle swells. A large part of the coastline makes up the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, where you’ll find an abundance of water based activities- or you could stay curled up by the fire with the view of a lifetime – the choice is yours.
Either way, Penrhiw Farm, situated on an organic dairy farm close to the Pembrokeshire coast Path, provides a wonderful place to stay and make the most of the countryside.
So there you have it, 6 amazing places to allow your mind to make that crucial connection with nature! Enjoy the healing effects of these incredible regions and rediscover your peace and mental wellbeing.
Photo credits: Lake District Photo by Matt W Newman on Unsplash; Cotswolds Photo by Ivy Barn on Unsplash; Yorkshire Dales Photo by Gary Butterfield on Unsplash; Norfolk Broads Photo by Steven Winter on Unsplash; Pembrokeshire Photo by Beata Mitręga on Unsplash