Saturday, 21 February 2015

Can nature heal?

Whenever I'm feeling a bit down, I usually feel compelled to get outdoors - I'm not sure whether it simply takes my mind off things, or whether immersing myself in the natural environment physically/physiologically makes me feel better. There are many studies showing that nature is good for you, reducing stress levels in particular.

Last Sunday's trip out included the additional healing power of animals (also known to have therapeutic effects), this time in the form of llamas! I visited Clarendon Park Estate, just outside Salisbury - it not only features beautiful views back towards the Cathedral, but a 13th century royal palace (modifying an earlier Anglo-Saxon hunting lodge) grazed by the aforementioned llamas, and ancient hazel coppice woodland. Wikipedia also tells me that the main house was used for the famous Chandelier scene in Only Fools and Horses - you learn something new every day!

It's a tranquil spot - few people seem to have discovered it, despite being on the ancient Clarendon Way. Every year Naomi House Children's Hospice based in Winchester runs a sponsored walk of this 26 mile route that runs between Salisbury and Winchester cathedrals. A few years ago I walked this with my sister - a beautiful route through stunning countryside and picturesque villages, with gorgeous views of the sweeping river valleys and chalk hills, so well worth doing from that point of view, in addition to raising money for an excellent cause. This year it is running from Salisbury to Winchester (previous years have run the opposite way around) - check out their website for details.

When we visited last week, the snowdrops were out, coating banks beneath parts of the park plantation woodland, indicating it's non-native origin. Despite this status, they are as much part of our early spring as bluebells are for late spring - widely naturalised and beautiful.

Tomorrow I'm off to Old Sarum, where Salisbury all began, and thankfully, walkable from my house - let's hope the sun keeps shining for more amazing views.

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