Nature Walking 101
Hello! In this tutorial, Nature Walking 101, we will take a quick overview of what a nature walk is, where to do one, what to look for and how to find one.
A nature walk is a fun, enjoyable, educational adventure undertaken somewhere in the great outdoors.
It is different from just a normal walk in that you make a conscious decision to keep your eyes, ears, nose, mind and imagination open during the walk. In short, you are willing and ready to take in all that the great outdoors has to offer you.
A walk where dad is grumpy, mum has had enough, the dog is whining and the kids are fighting is NOT a nature walk. No one will learn anything and they will certainly not return home happy, energised and rearing to do it again.
So, keep it fun and right from the very start, get everyone involved.
A common misconception about nature walks, is that they can only be done in a place ‘with lots of nature’. In other words, in the countryside or wilderness. But this is not true. Our definition of a nature walk is an enjoyable, educational experience connecting to and immersing yourself in nature. Or more simply, walking with awareness of nature.
You may have a more enjoyable experience being completely surrounded by the greenery and beauty of nature, but this does not mean you can’t do a perfectly amazing nature walk even in the middle of the city. You just need to walk with intention and awareness.
To help you find a nature walk ‘in nature’, there are several sources you can use. For instance, National Parks, Forestry Commission sites, RSPB sites, Natural Resoures Wales, National Trust properties, Wildlife Trust nature reserves and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty. Why not try our Find a Nature Walk Search Tool.
Remember, the main purpose of a nature walk, is to connect with and immerse yourself in nature.
So, whether you are walking in the city or in the wilderness, the basic principles remain the same:
- Allow yourself to focus
- Tune in all your senses
- Notice what is around you
- Connect with what is around you
What does nature mean to you? Trees, birds, animals, weather, terrain? As you walk, start to notice all these things – consciously focus on and become aware of them. Understand how they make up the world around you – and that you are walking in that same world.
Do not focus on whatever passes your eyes, but use all of your senses to identify the world around you. What can you hear? What can you feel? What can you smell? Perhaps you can hear distant swallows or running water, smell rain-damp earth or feel a warm, summer breeze.
While doing a nature walk, you should be looking out for all the details – both big and small, around you, close and far away and in all directions. Think about what nature encompasses – everything in the natural world. So, as you walk, you need to be attentive to all the clues and details painting your picture of the natural world – both the things themselves and their tracks or signs.
For instance, it might be sunny, but a dark cloud looming on the horizon, with the wind in your direction means that it may soon be raining on you. Or, you may not see any wildlife, but runs through bushes or a pile of feathers, or track marks mean that wildlife is somewhere around you. These are your tracks or signs.
Examples of living things to look for, are trees, plants, fungi, ferns, grasses, lichens, mosses, birds, insects and animals. Examples of non-living things, are rocks, water, weather and habitations – e.g. nests, cobwebs, burrows etc.
What you should take on your nature walk depends upon where your nature walk is, how far from home and how long or how far you will be walking. For a walk around your local area, you may need nothing more than your eyes and ears, while for a trip to the park, you might need to take sensible shoes and waterproofs (depending upon the weather).
If you plan to spend the whole day outside, think about taking some drinks and snacks (especially for children). If you will be traveling away from home, consider having a towel and spare change of clothes (especially socks) and a first aid kit.
For long distance hikes over several days, you may need to take along a tent and camping gear. Also, especially in remote areas, make sure to have some kind of navigation or map, a fully charged mobile phone (and extra batteries) plus appropriate layers, waterproofs, footwear – and make sure someone has an itinerary of where you are going and when to expect you back. Lastly, depending on where you live, make sure to carry an anti-venom kit or large animal deterrent.
Using our carefully curated nature walk tool, it is easy to find your perfect nature walk.
Circular walks or linear walks; long walks or short walks; family friendly or accessible walks; woodland walks or waterfall walks… The possibilities are endless. Just type your location and walk type into the box to get started today! E.g. Woodland walks in Worcestershire or Waterfall walks near Cardiff.
(The tool is the box just below you and you can find your nature walks just below the ads x)