Some of the most meaningful outdoors experiences I can recall have been far removed from adventures that see the landscape as a playground for physical challenges, or ones that involve ‘conquering’ nature. Nor have they been about observing and ticking off the names of plants, birds, wildlife or trees either. That kind of knowledge fosters its own intimacy and a welcome familiarity with the wild. It’s just not been my way.
Nurturing a more interactive connection with nature – not just in relation to flora and fauna, but also the elements and the seasons – through the senses, emotion or intuition opens up a whole new world of wonder.
Nurturing a more interactive connection with nature – not just in relation to flora and fauna, but also the elements and the seasons – through the senses, emotion or intuition opens up a whole new world of wonder. If you are looking to deepen your relationship with nature in more contemplative ways, you may be interested in the following:
A nature quest involves withdrawing into the wild and embarking on a solo fast. The one I’ve described in Wild Times, in Wiltshire, is a gentle introduction – supported by two wonderful guides – to an experience inspired by the traditional rites of passage practised among indigenous communities. It’s hard to imagine a more direct or raw way to commune with nature. But banish the thought of any macho suffering, for this is not about that. Rather, you immerse yourself in the elements and return filled with insights and, chances are, a sense of wonder re-ignited.
On a nature quest © Jini Reddy
On a full-moon meander familiar landscapes becomes terra incognito and you get the best beauty spots to yourself. An eco-friendly farm in Suffolk hosts these monthly nocturnal hikes – and you don’t have to be a guest to join in. Hooting owls, crackling twigs underfoot and shape-shifting trees add to the atmosphere.
© Krol, Shutterstock
Treading shoeless on the earth can yield many benefits: you feel the ‘aliveness’ in the earth and its natural charge is thought to impact positively on the body. It’s also exhilarating and will take you out of your comfort zone. On a barefoot walk in the Brecon Beacons, my guide – who you might also like to walk with – was the only woman to have run barefoot across Wales. (And yes, it is a little crazy doing it in winter, as I did – but the sun shone and I loved it.)
Barefoot in the Brecon Beacons © Jini Reddy
A mindful beach walk is a way of savouring your surroundings without distraction. Sounds in nature you might have overlooked become audible, and you have the space to notice the minute detail in everything. Walking in silence with others is an oddly bonding experience. Becalming too, if you’re doing it on Anglesey’s peaceful Newborough Beach, as I did, with a local outfit who’ve been filmed (being very mindful) on ITV’s Coast and Country.
Slow down and savour the detail of nature © Jini Reddy
Inspired? Find out more on how to have extraordinary experiences connecting with nature in Britain in Jini Reddy's Wild Times.