‘Tis the season to enjoy the great outdoors
Kate Titford from the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust finds the best way to relax in the festive season
MINCE pies, Christmas parties, visiting family – it’s easy to over-indulge during the festivities and feel overwhelmed.
Luckily there is a simple, and free, way to recharge the batteries and re-energise for the next few days.
Getting outside into the fresh air restores our mental energy and concentration levels and helps recovery from any stresses that this time of year can bring.
Research has shown that any sort of green space is beneficial to us, from small urban parks to rolling hills.
There have even been studies that show exercise taken outside has more benefits than the same exercise done in the gym.
What better reason to get off the sofa and discover somewhere new for a walk!
For a longer day out, perhaps a good way to entertain visiting family and friends, BBOWT has several Wild Walks in Buckinghamshire.
Each circular walk goes through at least one nature reserve, as well as the surrounding countryside, and are a great day out.
One of my favourites is the Tring Park Wild Walk. Starting in the middle of Tring, the route heads out of town and along country lanes to Dancersend Nature Reserve.
This fantastic site has been a nature reserve since the 1940s and is now managed by BBOWT. It is wonderful to visit all year round – in winter the beech woodland is filled with birds flitting through the trees looking for berries or insects to eat.
The steep climb up through the reserve gets the blood pumping, warming chilly fingers and toes. The route then drops down to a meadow, which is worth a return visit in spring and summer when it is filled with wild flowers, before climbing up to the Ridgeway National Trail.
The path runs through Pavis Wood, which is now managed by BBOWT on behalf of the County Council. Emerging from the woodland, continue through the village of Hastoe and on into Tring Park.
After exploring the woodland and parkland follow the route back to Tring via the Natural History Museum. A visit here with its fascinating exhibits adds a final wildlife interest to the walk.
The reservoirs around Tring are great places to enjoy winter bird life. The number and variety of birds increases as many arrive here for the winter, escaping the colder weather on the continent.
Discover the reservoirs with the Tring Reservoirs Wild Walk. Note though that College Lake nature reserve, which can be visited via a short extension to the route, shuts for Christmas and will re-open on 1 January 2017.
When I visited the reservoirs in the autumn there were already plenty of winter visitors, including wigeon, teal and shoveler, diving and dabbling to find their food.
Whether you have only got 10-minutes spare at lunchtime or you are looking to make a day of it, getting out into the fresh air will leave you feeling re-energised for the New Year.
Find all the walks to download at home at bbowt.org.uk/naturereserves/wild-walks.
(Above) Recharge your batteries over the holidays with a ‘wild walk’; (top) Look out for diving and dabbling winter water birds, including shovelers