This week is mental health awareness week, and the Mental Health Foundation are focusing on how being out in nature and enjoying the environment around us can help to improve our mood as well as help us cope with challenges such as anxiety and depression. We are incredibly lucky that our Orchard Park site is very close to the glorious Gloucestershire countryside and we thought we would share some of the incredible walks in the nearby area.
Sharpness Canal Walk
From the ancient city of Gloucester to one of Britain’s most inland ports on the Severn Estuary, this 16-mile walk follows the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. This Canal was once the deepest and broadest in the world and you can still view its spectacular architecture today and appreciate the feat of engineering.
There will never be a shortage of landmarks or stunning viewpoints along the way, with massive swing-bridges and pretty bridge-keepers’ houses to pass through. The canal, which was designed to help trade boats escape a risky stretch of the River Severn, links the cathedral city of Gloucester in the Cotswolds to the port of Sharpness.
The canal is home to a diverse range of species, including thousands of migratory coastal birds, and offers panoramic views of the Severn Estuary, Forest of Dean, and Cotswolds. Although the route can be completed in a day it is a long one, so many people split this up over two days.
Beechenhurst & The Sculpture Trail
This 4.5-mile-long Sculpture Trail was one of the first in the UK, opening in 1986. Artists built sculptures to interpret the Forest ecosystem and the past of this unique landscape on the Trail. It offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to walk through the woods while discovering art. The walks are suitable for all ages, abilities and fitness levels.
Some of the must see sculptures are the Cathedral, a 15-foot-high stained glass window suspended from the tree canopy that allows visitors to walk beneath it, and Iron Path, twenty sleepers on a former railway line carved with pictures of the Forest. There are many more beauties to enjoy as you walk through this beautiful woodland area.
The sculptures are placed in the woods to inspire you to look for them. The purple-marked posts will point you in the right direction. You can also buy a map if you wish.
The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust, a charitable organisation, commissioned the sculptures in collaboration with Forestry England.
The 102 mile (164 km) Cotswold Way, which runs from the quintessentially English market town of Chipping Campden to the Roman city of Bath, has been marketed as a long-distance walk for 50 years and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020.
The road travels through rolling pastures, beech forest, and honey-coloured villages constructed from Cotswold stone, following the western edge of the Cotswold Hills. You’ll pass by Neolithic burial barrows, stately homes, and historic war sites as you discover ancient commons in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The breath-taking walk along the Cotswold escarpment provides ever-changing views of the River Severn and the Malvern Hills to the west.
The Cotswold Way can be walked by anyone who is reasonably fit, but there are a number of steep climbs. The National Trail is well-marked, so it’s simple to find your way around.
Minchinhampton & Rodborough Commons
A walk mostly on the Rodborough and Minchinhampton Commons, with footpaths leading down to and up from a stretch of the Thames and Severn Canal towpath. Warm clothing in winter and suitable sun protection is recommended since much of the walk is exposed to the elements. After the walk, if needed, there are many places you can grab something to eat, especially as more restaurants and pubs are now opening up again.
The walk is largely on the higher ground of the Commons, but it does include a portion of the Thames Severn canal that has been restored at Capels Mill and is being worked on further south. The views from the Commons, depending on the weather, are broad and expansive, taking in the five valleys of Stroud as well as the surrounding towns and villages. While most of the walk is relatively flat, there are some downhill and uphill areas.