Sensory walks in nature

Spending time in nature makes us feel good, and improves our mental wellbeing.

Research shows that people who connect with nature are usually happier and have higher feelings of personal growth. The good news is that you don’t have to hike up a mountain to feel these benefits. There are lots of easy ways to connect with nature simply by paying close attention to the world around us.

We know that getting out into nature may not always be easy. With support from our local partners, we have created a series of self-guided sensory trails in accessible urban and green locations across Hampshire. We hope these provide inspiration for everyone to feel they can get outside and connect with nature.

The trails are designed for those living with sensory impairment and are wheelchair accessible, but they’re open for everyone to enjoy. The accessibility of the trails may be impacted by the weather, so check the walk information sheet for path surface details.

Bluebells in the woods

What are sensory trails?

Sensory trails have been created to help people of all ages and abilities to confidently get outside and connect with the environment using all their available senses. The walks have been created in partnership with national charity Sense.

Other than weather-appropriate clothing, no specialised gear is needed. Routes have been co-designed with people with living experience of a sensory impairment and follow fairly flat, level ground. These routes are self-led. You may choose to go with friends, family or a support group.

What are sensory moments?

Sensory moments are designed to engage the five senses and encourage you to really connect with your surroundings. Each of the routes across Hampshire includes different sensory moment prompts along the trail for you to enjoy. These reflect the individual location, including the sights and sounds of the surrounding environment. As the countryside changes with the seasons, every trip will be a little different.

How much do sensory trails cost?

The routes are free to access unless stated otherwise. The only costs you may incur are parking charges or bus/train fare to the sensory walk locations, and if you choose to explore a local café.

How long are the walks?

Typically, a mapped sensory route will take around 45 minutes, depending on your speed and how long you stop for at each sensory moment along the route. The routes vary in length so check the route supporting information.

Some sites also have the option to extend the route on other paths if you wish to go off-map, although we cannot guarantee the quality of the path surface or that it is free from obstacles.

Discover the Sensory Trails

Charlton Lake, Andover, Test Valley - Charlton Lake trail map, Charlton Lake trail PDF

Hogmoor Inclosure, Bordon, East Hants - Hogmoor Inclosure trail map, Hogmoor Inclosure trail PDF

Alice Holt Forest, near Bordon, East Hants - Alice Holt Forest trail map, Alice Holt Forest trail PDF

Wellesley Woods, Aldershot, Rushmoor - Wellesley Woods trail map, Wellesley Woods trail PDF

Ballard Lake, New Milton, New Forest - Ballard Lake trailPDF

Eling Tide Mill, Totton, New Forest - Eling Tide Mill map, Eling Tide Mill PDF

Gosport heritage marina trail - Gosport Heritage Marina trail map, Gosport Heritage Marina trail PDF

Stanley Park, Gosport - Stanley Park trail map, Stanley Park trail PDF

Hayling Billy trail to the mill pond, Havant - Hayling Billy trail map, Hayling Billy trail PDF

Alton Town dementia friendly route, East Hants - Alton town trail map, Alton town trail PDF

These trails have been created by Public Health with support from local partners as part of Hampshire’s Improving Mental Wellbeing Strategy.

Please note, unless it is a Hampshire County Council site then we’re not responsible for maintenance or not liable for injury.

Did you know?

Research has identified five pathways to improve nature connectedness:

  1. Senses: noticing and actively engaging with nature through the senses
  2. Emotion: experiencing the joy and calm that nature can bring
  3. Beauty: taking time to appreciate the beauty of nature through, for instance, art, music or words
  4. Meaning: exploring and celebrating how nature brings meaning to life
  5. Compassion: taking actions that are good for nature (such as creating homes for nature and making ethical product choices)

How can you include these into your next journey outside in nature?

Person walking through the woods

More support available

Five Ways to Wellbeing

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If you would like to find more ways to support your mental wellbeing explore Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Find out more about Five Ways to Wellbeing

Mental Wellbeing Hampshire

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Find local and national mental health support and services at Mental Wellbeing Hampshire.

Find out more about Mental Wellbeing Hampshire