Written by Dorset Wildlife Trust Coastal Centre Manager, Marc Kativu-Smith.
There are now a lot of studies and a large, growing body of evidence that show contact with the natural environment can provide benefits for health and wellbeing. The Wildlife Trusts recognise this as Nature for Wellbeing and has a vision that ‘everyone deserves to live in a healthy, wildlife-rich natural world and experience the joy of wildlife every day: for the wellbeing of people and wildlife’.
More and more, people are living their lives indoors and through screens, isolated from each other and the natural world, but deep down, almost intrinsically, we all know that getting outside, into nature, makes us feel good. As a child, some of my best, most vivid memories are climbing the tallest tree I could find, running down the beach with gritty sand between my toes or wading through a cold, muddy stream. It would be easy to put these memories down to the joy and carefree world of being young, but even now, as an adult, there is something that wakes up inside of me, makes me feel alive, when I get outside and connect with nature. Whether this is going for a walk in the countryside or visiting Dorset’s stunning coastline. I think it is in us all!
In Dorset, we are lucky to have so many beautiful places to visit and enjoy, from coast to country – with Kimmeridge Bay along the breathtaking Purbeck Coast, Lorton Meadows Nature Reserve, one of Weymouth’s best kept secrets, or King Barrow and Tout Quarries on Portland, a natural maze of geology, history and wildlife. There is certainly no shortage of places to visit to experience the benefits of nature in Dorset.
With an interest in marine biology, animal behaviour, sailing and diving I have always been most at home in, on or near the sea and I am now lucky enough to live and work on Portland. Based at the Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre, I am constantly connected to the daily rhythms and ever-changing moods of the coastline. Chesil Beach is a natural wonder, a bank of billions of pebbles, stretching 18 miles along the Jurassic Coast. This extraordinary accumulation of shingle is a geological spectacle and haven for wildlife, with unique, windswept, salt-laden habitats. Important for invertebrates, wildflowers and coastal birds like four-leaved allseed, the scaly cricket, Defolin’s Lagoon snail and little tern. Nestled safely behind Chesil Beach, the Fleet Lagoon is one of the largest tidal lagoons and one of the most important Marine Protected Areas in the UK, boasting some of the highest diversity of any lagoon. On the seaward side, the deep water is home to marine giants like the critically endangered porbeagle sharks; bottlenose dolphins and even the occasional humpback whale.
I feel privileged, that through my work I get to share this incredible place with visitors, schools and community groups every day. There is always something new to see and to learn, and you never tire of the ever-changing vista, serenaded by the sound of pebbles locked in an endless dance with every wave. The health benefits of walking are obvious, but when this is coupled with discovery and learning, finding out about your local wildlife, connecting with nature and other people, you have nourishment for both your body and your mind. The benefits of ‘Stepping into Nature’ become clear.
Dorset Wildlife Trust has teamed up with Stepping into Nature, to offer Wildlife Wellbeing Walks at Chesil on the last Thursday of every month. A gentle, relaxing walk around Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon, taking in the seasonal wildlife. These walks are dementia friendly, and particularly suitable for anyone wishing to discover the outdoors, lose weight, recover from illness or wanting to improve their mental health and wellbeing. The walks are FREE, funded by Stepping into Nature through the National Lottery Communities Fund. There is a Pay and Display Car Park on site.
For more information visit: www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/events or contact 01305 206191, email@example.com .
Stepping into Nature
Stepping into Nature