Boost your wellbeing with a walk in the wild

More people will be able to experience the sights, smells, and sounds of nature, thanks to the introduction of new accessible sensory walking trails in Hampshire

May 14 2024

Hampshire County Council is unveiling the routes during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (13 to 19 May 2024), which has the theme: ‘Movement: Moving more for our Mental Health’. The trails are specifically designed to help those who may find it more difficult to access nature and engage in physical activity that would benefit their mental wellbeing.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council’s Cabinet Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health said: “For many people, walking is an easy way to get moving that helps calm the mind and connect with the environment. However, for those with sensory impairments, getting out into nature can be a challenge. To help remove some of the barriers, we have teamed up with local partners to create a series of accessible, self-guided sensory trails in urban and green locations across Hampshire. 

“Being active and taking notice of the small things around us are two of the five proven ways to support positive wellbeing. So, I am delighted that we are launching our sensory walking trails during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. We have created these trails as part of our Public Health responsibilities for improving the health of local people.”

Sensory trails are designed to help anyone, regardless of age or ability, to enjoy being outdoors and connect with nature using their senses. The routes have been created with input from people who have first-hand experience of sensory impairments, and are mostly on flat, even ground. No special equipment is needed other than suitable clothing for the weather. 

The sensory trails project has been made possible through collaboration with the following partners: Forestry England, The Land Trust, Test Valley Borough Council, Havant Borough Council, Gosport Walking for Health, Totton Town Council, New Milton Town Council, and Dementia Friendly Alton. The routes were digitally mapped by Sense - a national charity supporting people with multiple sensory impairments or complex disabilities.

Sensory Trail locations
Each of the ten trails in Hampshire features sensory cues along the path to enhance the experience. These cues are unique to each location and highlight the sights and sounds in the surrounding area. As the countryside changes with the seasons, each visit offers something new to discover. The routes can be found at: 

  • Charlton Lake, Andover, Test Valley
  • Hogmoor Inclosure, Bordon, East Hampshire
  • Alice Holt Forest, near Bordon, East Hampshire
  • Wellesley Woods, Aldershot, Rushmoor
  • Ballard Lake, New Milton, New Forest
  • Eling Tide Mill, Totton, New Forest
  • Gosport Heritage Marina trail
  • Stanley Park, Gosport
  • Hayling Billy trail, Havant
  • Alton Town, East Hampshire

Councillor Fairhurst added: “Mental Health Awareness Week reminds us how important it is to look after our mental and emotional wellbeing and help support others too. What better time to explore one of these new routes with friends, family or a local support group? While these walks are designed to be inclusive for people with sensory impairment, they can be enjoyed by everyone, and we hope they inspire more people to go outside and feel the benefits of connecting with nature.”

Visit the website for more information about the sensory walks in nature.

Anyone needing mental health support for themselves or someone they know can find local and national information and guidance on the Mental Wellbeing Hampshire website.