Thursday 8 October 2020
The stress of Covid-19 and especially the period of lockdown has had a significant impact on peoples’ mental wellbeing. Being active outdoors in nature has never been more vital. World Mental Health Day on 10th October is a great opportunity to highlight some of the ways you can focus on your health and wellbeing.
The Chilterns countryside offers a natural tonic for the soul – a stunning landscape with 2,000km of rights of way, dozens of nature reserves and countryside sites, some beautiful promoted walks and lots of opportunities for volunteering, learning, connecting and enjoying this special area. We've put together some ideas for ways to help look after your body and soul:
This October the Chilterns Celebration and Chilterns Walking Festival are offering a range of small-group guided walks and events with a strong focus on health & wellbeing linking in with World Mental Health Day – a great way to get active, meet new people, see new places and de-stress from the challenges we’ve all faced this year.
There are lots of opportunities ranging from micro (bite-size) volunteering to a regular commitment of a few hours (or more if you can spare it). Volunteering has been consistently shown to improve mental wellbeing, and can be a great way of meeting like-minded people and improving your own skills. If you’re not able to leave the house at the moment there are hundreds of charities that need help in a virtual capacity – writing content, updating social media and can all be done from the safety of your own home. If conservation is your thing, we’d love to hear from you, but there are hundreds of charities locally that could do with some help – Do-it.org has listings of volunteer opportunities so have a look!
many local businesses expanded their offering during lockdown, providing a lifeline to their local communities when things were at their most difficult, including delivery in many cases. Supporting these local businesses will help build your local community, which in turn will be better able to support you. Consider shopping in a community shop, farm shop or small local business rather than national or regional chains.
with Christmas approaching it’s a great time to start finding out about local producers that are, let’s face it, going to need a bit of a boost this year. Why not give back to your local area and buy Christmas gifts from local companies: buy experiences, local Chilterns specialities or crafts rather than more ‘stuff’. How about the Chiltern Society’s ‘sponsor a tree’ initiative, a bushcraft course, or a vineyard or distillery tour? Here are some ideas of Chilterns craft and food & drink gifts made locally by small-scale artisans!
Try your hand at citizen science, recording butterflies or bees, or the archaeologically minded could help interpret LiDAR mapping data with our Beacons of the Past project. The Chilterns Celebration this October has many opportunities to get involved – a free creative workshops for young people in High Wycombe (10th Oct), hedgerow planting with the Chiltern Rangers (12th Oct), interactive wellness education (online, 15th Oct) and live acoustic performances and much more. See the full programme for more details. If you’re worried about getting lost in the great outdoors, try one of the half-day map reading courses as part of the Chiltern Walking Festival or learn to walk Nordic style with our tasters and guided sessions . If your attempts at baking bread with hastily procured flour and yeast from the depths of the cupboard during lockdown turned out a little flat, why not learn from the pros at the last working mill on the river Ver.
The Chilterns boast a number of trails of national importance, for walkers, horse riders and cyclists. The Ridgeway, Thames Path or Chiltern Way are all good options for walkers (you don’t have to do them all in one go!) while the Chilterns Cycleway is a 170-mile circular route passing all around the AONB. If pedalling up enormous hills clad in lycra doesn’t appeal though, there are plenty of off road trails and easier inclines to try. Wendover Woods has a number of family cycle trails of differing lengths, while the Phoenix trail from Princes Risborough offers a flat (former railway) 7.5km ride to Thame. For the more adventurous, Aston Hill has a regionally recognised mountain bike park featuring five graded downhill runs, a 4X track and a two-part cross-country loop with something to challenge everyone of every mountain bike discipline.
Enjoy the Chilterns in the company of others by joining a walking or outdoor activity group.
There are some wonderful centres for art courses, yoga and complementary health in tranquil Chilterns settings.
This World Mental Health Day – and beyond – we hope you are able to use the above suggestions enjoy the wonderful Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.