Why is a woodland walk green?
Walking is green. It's healthy, not just physically, but mentally too. Many studies show that exercising outside, especially amongst trees has greater health benefits; in fact it's becoming known as 'tree bathing' and there are countless studies about the health benefits such as slowing down, relating to nature and de-stressing. Being green is holistic; if your health is good you may need fewer tablets and a trip to the doctor may be less likely. Your weight is more likely to stay down too. It can help those who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and for those of you (like me) who don't like autumn and winter because of being cold, walking certainly helps to keep you warm too :) I can get very down at this time of year, but in recent years, I've tried to embrace the season and basically tweaked a well known phrase 'if you can't beat it, join it'. And remember, that if you are lucky enough to have access to woodlands or even a park, you are as rich as anybody.
Connecting to the woods, trees, colours and seasons can be a very positive thing, as can connecting with other people as well. Have you ever noticed that if you meet someone else walking in the woods you will almost certainly say hello and acknowledge each other, in a way that you may not in the street or a car park? Saying hello to strangers is a kind and pleasant thing to do and makes for a better world.
Find a friend
If you don't like walking alone, ask a friend to go with you, or consider join a walking club. Personally, I love walking with a dog or two, but if you don't have one perhaps you could ask a neighbour if you can borrow theirs. You may well be doing them a favour. This is Barney, who really loves the woods.
Check the weather
Do yourself a favour and check the weather before you go for a walk. It may seem like a really obvious thing to do, but you may be surprised how many people don't. If you have the luxury, you can then plan to walk amongst the best part of the day. There can be some terrific times in autumn; look at this blue sky.
Walking in woods, especially during the autumn is a great way to introduce children to the wonders of the natural world. There are so many things to identify and the colours can be terrific. Gather a few fallen leaves, cones etc and create some autumnal art when you get back. It's good to teach children that some plants are edible whilst others are not. This mushroom was magical to look at but highly poisonous.
Whoop whoop, it's chestnut season and it's really exciting when you spot a tree and get a successful forage. The husks can be very spiky, so take care when retrieving the chestnuts. I try to gently push my heel down on the husks and squeeze the prize out. Chestnuts can be eaten raw, or made into soup, puréed, served with sprouts etc. I like them roasted best. I score each chestnut and wrap them loosely in foil, then pop them in the oven or in the embers of a fire. It's important not to take all the chestnuts (leave some for other people / animals). This lot came from several different trees.
Help to preserve the beauty of our woods and help minimise any dangers to animals by picking up any litter, I grabbed these three cans in the woods today. Here's a link to my previous blog on Why pick up litter?
I hope that you've been inspired to take a woodland walk. Whether it's to beat the blues, to get fitter, to spend time with a friend conversing without technology, or to be wowed by the textures, scents and colours of autumn, I hope that you will enjoy this simple pleasure which can enrich you in so many ways and please do let me know where your favourite wood walks are.