Going out for a walk is a great thing to do. It’s a simple but enjoyable form of exercise that gets us out in the fresh air and (sometimes!) sunshine; we can spend time with others; and we can slow down and appreciate our environment.
Right now, walking can also play an important role in managing our wellbeing: for example, it can help us with any stress we may be experiencing, get us moving to aid in feeling physically well and also bring some variety to our day. Our reasons for getting outside to walk are many and varied, but it can give our days a real boost.
Walking is also great because of its simplicity: you don’t need to go far. You can head out from your front door and explore your immediate surroundings in a way you may not have done before. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few weeks walking around my immediate neighbourhood, exploring familiar areas and also discovering footpaths and trails I didn’t know were there.
Wherever you walk, the following are some suggestions of activities that can be enjoyed anywhere and at almost any time.
Who doesn’t love a game of i-spy, hide and seek or Pooh Sticks? You won’t need any equipment (except some fallen twigs, a bridge and a river/stream for Pooh Sticks) so these are easy to play anywhere you may go for a walk.
How about a treasure or scavenger hunt? You can create your own list of things to try and find, or you can keep it really simple – lots of homes have cuddly toys, or rainbow decorations, in their windows so why not see how many you can spot and how many different designs there are while out and about. You may also spot decorated stones on garden walls or hidden in amongst plants.
You might like to give geocaching a go. This is a mobile-phoned base treasure hunt: all the information you need can be found on the geocaching website – https://www.geocaching.com/play
We shared a post recently about hunting mini-beasts; a walk is a great time to take your spotter sheets out to see what you can find. Other spotting ideas include:
- Identify trees – our Ranger, Jane, shared information about this in her Treemendous Trees blog post.
- Identify birds, mammals and other creatures – the Wildlife Trust has some great spotter sheets, including ones for urban birds and wildlife. You may also spot the footprints – or tracks – of wildlife when you’re out. The RSPB has a very useful guide you can download here.
No matter where you are or where you can safely walk, now could be a great time to learn more about reading maps and using a compass – even some basic skills can be really handy while out walking in the countryside. The Ordnance Survey (OS) has a really fantastic set of resources, including videos with Steve Backshall, to help you get started here.
Or maybe you fancy doing something a bit different? Why not create your own map of a favourite place, or somewhere you walk regularly: it could be your local park, your home town or somewhere else that you just love walking in. Create a key for symbols – see what the OS uses, or create your own! – and include as many of the features that make this particular space interesting. There’s more about maps on the OS’s Map Zone here, including examples of map symbols in their ‘Resources & Links’, games and more handy hints about learning to read and use maps.
A really simple but enjoyable thing to do while out walking – or even out in your garden or when visting local park – is to take pictures. You could do this on a smartphone or on a camera; and your subject is entirely up to you! Here are some suggestions, but don’t let these curb your creativity:
- Clouds – see how many photos you can get of clouds that are different shapes, sizes and colours. The Met Office has a handy cloud spotting guide here.
- Rainbows – there’s lots of possibilities here! You could photograph actual rainbows; rainbows you see as decorations in and around people’s homes; or you could try to find at least one thing while out that’s the same as each of the colours of the rainbow (something red, something orange, something yellow, …). How many ‘rainbows’ can you make?
- Nature hunting finds – spotted a great bird? An interesting animal track? A beautiful flower? Capture it in a photo and keep a log of all the things you find when you go outside.
- Things that make you happy – maybe you found something while you were out that you just really liked, or made you smile. Go ahead and take a snap of it to remember it by. I like to photograph sunrises and sunsets; views towards the town where I live; and my dog. All make me happy for different reasons!
- Compass Points – find a good and safe spot to stop while out walking. Facing one direction, take a photo; then make a quarter turn to your right, and take another photograph here. Repeat until you’re facing the same direction you were in the first place. If you have a compass, you could use this to align yourself with North, East, South and West.Repeat as many times as you like, and then take the time later to compare the sets of photos at each location – what can you see in each? Do you see the same or different things at each spot when facing in different directions? Do you have a favourite view, and why?
Our latest statement on visiting the National Park can be found here, including a link to updated government guidance on accessing green spaces. The National Park is a living, working landscape and we ask that people respect this and exercise close to home if they can. If you need to travel to the National Park, please be responsible, considerate and kind.