Walking with Nature

by David Feather

I monitor a Scottish website called Paths for All, as it provides valuable advice to making and maintaining country paths. This site reports that researchers have found that there are 5 pathways to connect to nature: contact, beauty, meaning, emotion and compassion.

The researchers at the University of Derby have found that to get the full benefit of a walk “in the wild”, there is a need to go beyond activities that simply engage through knowledge and identification with nature, to these five pathways that develop a more meaningful and emotional relationships.

The 5 pathways to nature connection:

1. Contact: explore, take a closer look and get in touch with the natural world. Engage with nature through the senses for pleasure e.g. listening to birdsong, smelling wild flowers, watching the sunset.

2. Beauty: take time to appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature. Engage with the aesthetic qualities e.g. appreciating natural scenery or connecting through the arts.

3. Meaning: consider what nature means to you. Using natural symbolism (e.g. language and metaphors) to represent an idea, thinking about the meaning and signs of nature, e.g. the first swallow of summer.

4. Emotion: find happiness and wonder, find an emotional bond with, and love for, nature e.g. talking about, and reflecting on your feelings about nature.

5. Compassion: think about what you could do for nature, extending the self to include nature, leading to moral and ethical concerns about, for example, product choices or concerns for animal welfare.

If you would like to know more about the study, click on 5 ways to be closer to nature – May – University of Derby and you can get access to the full research paper.

I believe that you should always enjoy your visit to our Nature Reserve. It is a very important sanctuary for our wildlife, but it must remain important to your wellbeing as well.

2 thoughts on “Walking with Nature

  1. I find you see so much more of nature when you sit still for a while in a quiet spot in a wild area and observe. After a few minutes birds and other wildlife may appear. If you go to the same spot every day wildlife will become used to seeing you and will go about their lives as if you aren’t there. You can then observe all sorts of behaviour and sounds you never noticed before. This can be very uplifting.

  2. This is a really good point. We, The Friends, should bear it in mind as new seating is proposed. Perhaps we should be considering sites off the beaten track? I wonder what other users think?

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