The Great Outdoors
We are really getting to know our outdoor spaces VERY well at the moment aren’t we?! It can be easy to wander around the same spots or meander down the same paths. There is so much to discover and marvel at in nature and we are lucky in the Royal Borough to have a plethora of woodland walks and green spaces to enjoy. Here are a few hints and tips to make the most of your daily constitutional!
*Remember, if mobility is holding you back from exploring the great outdoors then People to Places can help. Shopmobilty in Maidenhead and Windsor provide access to scooters that can be hired on a short or long-term basis. Click here for our opening hours and check out the lists of parks and green spaces in Maidenhead and Windsor. Also have a look at the Jubilee River walk and, of course, the Thames River path.
Taking Your Time
Walks should always be about enjoying yourself! It’s easy for walks (particularly our one lockdown activity) to feel like something we have to force ourselves to do. Do not push yourself further than you want to go. Alex Strauss, The Mindful Walker, advocates a slow and steady approach. Tell yourself that you’ll head out for a 5 minute walk, you’ll be more likely to brave a colder and greyer day, and you will often find that you can turn that into a longer stroll as your mind is less likely to resist a shorter timeframe. Walk at a natural pace, become aware of sounds, smells and look around you. You would be surprised how often you will spend a walk just looking down at the ground.
The winter months do not mean that wildlife disappears until spring. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) offers a great guide to bird watching that can give you tips to take great photos and recognise birds we share our outdoor spaces with. This can be done in your garden or out on your walks. Heading outside at different times can expose you to different birds and wildlife. Megan McCubbin, co-host of the BBC’s Winterwatch, suggests heading to open fields at dusk to spot Barn Owls or car parks or urban trees to catch a glimpse of Waxwings who heading to the UK to escape the freezing temperatures of Russia.
“Hello and welcome to Desert Island Discs…”
Sometimes walks can be the best time to take yourself off into your own little world with no one else to bother you. It can also be the best time to catch-up on your favourite podcasts, audiobooks or music. I will always remember when I was walking over North Town Moor in Maidenhead and was listening to There’s No Such Thing As A Fish podcast (highly recommend, made by the QI elves) and was ambling behind a dog walker and I just let out the biggest snort/laugh at something the hosts were chatting about – naturally, the walker couldn’t see my headphones and thought I was laughing at them, cut to me frantically apologising, pulling out my headphones, trying to explain what I was listening to (very badly) and was absolutely not laughing at them! Ooops.
I also heartily recommend dancing around to whatever music you are listening to. You are guaranteed to keep anyone else out and about at a minimum safe distance.
This can be a solo activity or a great way to get your household or support bubble outside altogether. I would suggest investing in a magnifying glass to get up close and personal with winter vegetation and plants on your walk. The Woodland Trust offer a guide to tree spotting and clues to identifying wildflowers and fungi (obviously, it goes without saying – please leave what you see where you see it. It’s all part of our local ecosystem and lets others enjoy the view too). If you are after a family-friendly adventure, then Treasure Trails is for you. This website offers socially distanced outside adventures. You are your bubble will need to complete missions that take you around local areas to collect clues and solve the mystery!
Shake Up Your Walk
We are creatures of habit. Try and mix up your daily dose of the outside. Try your walks in reverse, as long as you make it home there is no need to worry about the destination – take off and get lost on purpose. Crack out an Ordinance Survey map so you don’t have to keep your phone with you at all times (although, might be worth taking it along just in case…). There are also many smartphone apps that can help you create walking routes or offer the best ones available in your area and for your preferred length or terrain – check out GoJauntly or Footpath for your walking needs.