‘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

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY -

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

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