Finding our place to be in the great outdoors

 
‘Discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’ – Marcel Proust 
 
Often walking is portrayed as being all about reaching a summit or a succession of summits ‘peak bagging’ as it's known. Many of us who are active on social media are bombarded with endless images of mountainscapes and of people gazing wistfully into the distance towards a spectacular scene. We read about people who have walked epic trails, climbed every mountain, twice, three times, more than the next person. While this is certainly inspiring to many, it can also be off putting for many others, and particularly new walkers.
 
Every now and then we need to take a step back and rediscover why we all love walking so much. What it is that makes our hearts sing when we find our place to be in the outdoors? For me personally, walking is a key way to manage my mental health; it’s about connection, senses and feeling. Being in a place, and I mean really ‘being’ in that place.
 

Finding my place to be on the Forest of Dean Ramblers Beechenhurst Trail

One of my favourite walks for this is the Forest of Dean Ramblers Beechenhurst Trail. Every time I walk this I see something new and feel a deeper connection to the forest. It is an 8 mile circular walk and meanders through some of the oldest and most varied woodland in the country. Taking your time means that you have the opportunity to see Wild Boar, Deer, Pine Martins, Goshawks and much much more.It is a moderate walk with some up and downs – oh, and take footwear that you are happy to splash through the mud in!

 

One of my favourite spots to stop, breathe and feel more along the walk is Cannop Ponds. A remnant of the industrial landscape, they form two large ponds where you can find a spot to sit and enjoy the silence. Water for me always has a therapeutic effect, enabling me to settle more in to the place that I am in.

As the walk continues, you see tantalising glimpses of the industrial past; railway lines, pit heads, tram roads, quarries and disused collieries. All gradually being taken over by nature and slowly melting into the environment.

At the end of the walk you take in part of the popular Forestry England Sculpture Trail. This thought provoking trail takes in a series of sculptures inspired by the forest, its trees, wildlife and industrial past. As you walk through the trail you will come to an area simply called ‘Place’, and from this viewpoint you are afforded a stunning outlook over the Forest, and of course the perfect opportunity to reflect. After I finish a walk in a place like Forest Dean, I always like to remember this quote; 'When you leave a beautiful place, you carry it with you wherever you go.’  - Alexandra Stoddard

Joining the Ramblers gives you access to Ramblers Routes, a growing collection of nearly 4,000 routes, developed by walkers for walkers of all levels of experience, across Great Britain  The Ramblers, Great Britain’s largest walking community, is waiting to welcome you for just £3.05 a month. Find out more: www.ramblers.org.uk/get-involved/join-the-ramblers