Walking on the Wild Side




Walking on the Wild Side

The days are long gone when our ancestors walked the land, drank from the streams and slept on moss under hedgerows, wrapped only in their cloaks. Nowadays we are more likely to drive to our air b-n-b with en-suit and snuggle down in a comfy king-sized bed. 

BUT what we have gained in comfort, we have lost in our direct contact with nature!!

Having evolved over hundreds of thousands of years in close alignment to the natural environment and natural elements, this is the environment in which we thrive best – it’s our home.  It’s only relatively recently that we have become more separated from nature, living & working in more artificial, sterilised environments. The German philosopher Erich Fromm’s formulated the idea of Biophilia: that our health & wellbeing are dependent on being connected to nature and that, like other living organisms, we thrive in certain environmental conditions and suffer in others. 

Instinctively we know this to be true. When we walk in nature we feel renewed as our senses awaken to the beauty around us, the birds singing, the sun, wind and rain on our skin, and the scents of the wildflowers, plants and trees. These positive sensations release endorphins and serotonin making us feel happy and impacting our mood in a positive way

As well as impacting our psychological well being, the physical benefits of walking in nature are huge also. When we walk our heart, and lungs and muscles are strengthened as our blood is flooded with fresh oxygen.  In addition to helping cardiovascular fitness, strengthening bones, reducing fat, and improving muscle power and endurance, studies have shown that by walking in natural settings, we are exposing ourselves to all sorts of microbes that can benefit our microbiome and our immunity, and that we gain better protection from viruses as the level of our white blood cells is increased. And, as well, we absorb the all-important vitamin D from sunlight that is so necessary for good bones, teeth and muscles.

And perhaps it could be said that being in nature contributes also to our spiritual wellbeing as we can experience feelings of deep appreciation and gratitude, and wonder and awe.

So we can see how important it is to prioritise making some time each day to schedule in a walk in nature. Whether it is in city parks or gardens, in the countryside or next to rivers or the sea, even a short walk will restore our sense of wellbeing, and when we can, long walks are of course better still!

And as well connecting to nature by walking and breathing, we can also connect even more deeply by eating some of the amazing wild plants that grow everywhere in abundance!  For thousands of years people have harvested and cooked wild plants as part of their diet, many of which are full of health – giving phytonutrients and natural medicine. In springtime especially when are bodies are changing from the rest and recuperation of wintertime, to more active energy, greens and especially wild vegetables support the liver in its work of discharging and renewal. It is quite exciting to go out with some scissors or secateurs and pick a bag full of some common plants such as nettles, dandelions, chickweed, goose-grass, ramsons (wild garlic) or garlic mustard and then take them home and turn them into delicious food!  The leaves can be steeped as teas, juiced or added to smoothies, made into pesto, or cooked as a green veg, or in a soup. Its good to remember to always pick sustainably and responsibly – away from roads, away from anywhere that may have been treated with pesticides, only pick plants that you are 100% sure of their identity and only take a few leaves from different plants. 

If you find the tastes are too strong then you can use smaller amounts and mix together with some cultivated greens such as spring greens, cabbage or kale. If you take heart medication, have kidney disease or particular allergies, you may want to consult your health care professional before using wild plants.

If you are unsure how to identify wild plants it is best to pick with an experienced forager, or go on a foraging course. There is so much to learn about wild plants!.

Check our great recipe for simple nettle soup, one of the most iconic, nourishing soups for the springtime, and as well, how to make beautiful dandelion tea, using the gorgeous golden blooms.

Lets walk in nature and stay a bit wild!