We’ve never appreciated being outside more than we do now and with more gradually opening up to us, let’s get out and enjoy it
t’s the time of year when we’re normally thinking about going on holiday and spending as much time as possible outside – and with more of us likely to opt for staycations and short breaks closer to home this year, where do you start?
Fingers crossed, campsites are preparing to reopen this month with social distancing measures and a limited number of places, some will reopen second fields while others will introduce measures such as a system including timed use of showers.
If you’re a camping virgin, The Camping and Caravanning Club is a great place to start with all you need and some helpful advice:
• Stay in the open air – there are many physical and well-being benefits of camping and caravanning thanks to spending time in the fresh air
• Stay local – there will be a campsite near you, there’s no need to travel far for a change of scene and the local economies will benefit too
• Stay comfortable – there will be social distancing measures in place when they’re able to re-open campsites
The Club’s Director General Sabina Voysey said: “We believe the great outdoors will never feel greater and we can’t wait for the day when we’re able to welcome people back to our campsites. By sharing our handy guides, top tips and online content we hope we can introduce even more people to the joys of camping and caravanning.”
TV presenter Julia Bradbury is president of The Camping and Caravanning Club and created The Outdoor Guide (TOG) website to share her love of all things outdoors. She said: “Green spaces are incredibly important to me. And they don’t have to be big, wide open landscapes. Yes, I love the Peak District and the Lake District, and Dartmoor and I love exploring the wilds of Scotland, but green spaces, parks, gardens, even simple window boxes. These ‘little bits of green’ or smaller green environs are equally important.
“Growing something, for example, in a window box is a way to connect with nature. And that is something that we have evolved to do. And it’s an important part of our makeup. We know for example, that time spent in green spaces, whether that is parks or bigger landscapes, either of those, time spent in green spaces is good for us.”
For many time spent in outdoor spaces means enjoying a walk and while Julia won’t commit to a favourite she explained that was the reasoning behind TOG: “People have been asking me for years and years about my favourite walks or where I like to stay or the pub that I was at, or where I was when I had that pie and pint, or that little woodshop that I called into, or the blacksmith/carpenter I talked to…
“So we’ve put all of that information up on the website and there are hundreds and hundreds of really good walks up on there. It’s not fair for me to say a favourite walk because I just like being out there.
“And it depends where you live. Some people will never get to the other side of the country. They’ll explore what they’ve got on their doorstep and that’s absolutely fine as well.
“Of course, the Peak District would always have a special place in my heart as will the Lake District because that’s where I made my first TV walks – The Wainwright walks – filming in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright, so those two places are special.”
Julia believes it’s just important for people to get out and enjoy it, especially now. She added: “A University of Exeter study of nearly 20,000 people in England last year revealed people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological well being, than those who don’t visit nature at all. 120 minutes a week is nothing but the benefits to all are enormous, quite simply nature and green spaces help to keep us healthy. Governments that don’t recognise this are being incredibly foolish – it’s almost like having a second health service… This study found the majority of nature visits took place within just two miles of people’s homes.”
There’s lots more information on Julia’s website The Outdoor Guide, www.theoutdoorguide.com
UK tourism industry site Visit Britain is developing a quality mark for tourism businesses, including campsites, in response to Covid-19. It aims to reassure visitors businesses are complying with government guidelines.
The National Trust is another taking its first tentative steps to reopening some of its properties and the sheer joy of being able to set foot somewhere other than your doorstep or local park is overwhelming.
With many restrictions still in place, the Trust has welcomed visitors to walk in some of its open spaces locally – Runnymede; Witley and Milford Commons; Frensham Little Pond; Hindhead Commons; Swan Barn Farm, Black Down and Marley Common in Haslemere; Petworth; Lavington Common at Woolbeding; Selborne Common and Hydon’s Ball and Heath, Godalming. Car parks have reopened at these sites, some
with limited space on a first come first served basis.
As from the beginning of June, some of its sites have been able to reopen further with gardens, parklands, estates and car parks welcoming visitors. Booking is essential at all properties although the houses themselves will not be open.
Those you can now visit locally are: Hinton Ampner, Mottisfont and The Vyne in Hampshire; Polesden Lacey, Hatchlands Park, Claremont and Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey and Standen House and Garden and Nymans, West Sussex.
Visit the National Trust website for details, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/how-to-book-your-visit-and-what-to-expect
A National Trust spokesperson said: “We knew that once we started a gradual opening of our gardens and parklands, tickets for our places would be very popular; particularly with such fine weather.
“We’ve made careful decisions about which gardens and parklands can open, and we have limited their capacity to ensure everyone can adhere to social distancing to maintain the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers, which remains our top priority.”
Historic Painshill is welcoming visitors again with appropriate social distancing measures in place. The grotto, upper floors of the Gothic Tower and gift shop are closed but the tearoom is open for takeaways and picnics can be enjoyed in the grounds. Bookings must be made in advance and entry numbers are restricted, visit www.painshill.co.uk/visiting-painshill-covid-19-pandemic/
RHS Wisley has also partially reopened to the public, again with limitations on numbers and with areas such as glasshouses, alpine houses, bird hides and play areas staying closed.
Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “We are delighted the government has said it is safe to reopen our RHS Gardens because it is proven that spending time outside in green open spaces surrounded by plants has an immensely positive effect on our health.
“We look forward to welcoming our members and visitors safely back and to bringing the joy of plants, flowers, trees and nature back into people’s lives, which for so many will be a much-needed tonic.”
There is limited capacity to comply with government guidelines and booking is essential. Visit https://tinyurl.com/y9l7b4gs
Make the most of the English outdoors and celebrate it as The Camping and Caravanning Club says on its website ‘the good times will never feel better’ and ‘the outside will never feel greater’.