Stepping OutAugust 10th, 2020
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar.” Lord Byron
Now is the time to step out. To revel in the rural, indulge your inner explorer and find yourself lost in nature. Studies have shown that time in the great outdoors is time well spent – lowering stress levels and blood pressure, while boosting immune systems, memory and mental health.
Can nature really help us understand everything better? It’s certainly worth exploring.
We are surrounded by acres of green with sweeping views and space to breathe. Venture from the formal gardens to the wilds of native Deer Park and ancient woodland holding the secrets of explorers past. There are habitats for wildlife and adventures for humans.
Walk among giants as you meet 70ft Hornbeams. Spot different bird species nesting in Hazel coppice. Saunter past elegant Ash and pay your respects to veteran Oaks.
Do as the Romans did and roam the long ancient road. Our stretch is part of the original Roman road that ran from Bath to Weymouth – lined by pine trees, which have been growing on earth for 300 million years. Reaching the end, have an audience with our 300-year old Druid Tree (the Druids believe the Beech tree is Queen of the Woods, and Oak the King).
Look deeper to discover a sleeping dragon playground crafted by our woodland team. Forage wisely to find bilberry, mallow, meadowsweet. Tread carefully and you may be treated to a close encounter of the antlered kind, as our deer stroll obligingly past to meet their public.
Boots tied, bags packed. Let’s get out there.
TAKE TO THE TREES
Our pocket guide to the wonder of the woods:
FORGE – Map a trail using sticks as wayfinders to send the children off on a wild goose chase. Be sure to take some snacks.
CREATE – Encourage little adventurers to make wild art with treasures found on their walk. Colourful leaves, shiny stones and billowy feathers offer endless inspiration.
HIDE – Make a hideaway with sticks, leaves and grasses, or visit the woodland residents. Glimpse the hare beneath the Druid Tree boughs or come upon Badger Walk – where some setts have been inhabited for over 250 years (badgers inherit them from their parents).
HUNT – The woodland undergrowth crawls with activity: bugs, beetles, grasshoppers, ladybirds. Go on a bug hunt to see what critters you can find; just put them back where you found them.
WATCH – From rotund wrens and tiny chaffinches, to spotted woodpeckers and song thrushes, our woodland is home to a chorus of birdlife. Head to the upper Deer Park terrace in the morning to spot hawks and buzzards swooping to catch their breakfast.
BATHE – Lay down and gaze up at the very tops of the pine trees, allowing your thoughts to wash away into the canopy as you breathe it all in.