Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

A Day in the Woods – a recipe for health?

Woodland - a space for comtemplation and relaxation - with Wassledine

Woodland – a space for contemplation and relaxation

In the past I’ve done several jobs in which talking to people about the benefits of trees, woodland and other greenspace has been an important part of my duties. I’ve also been involved in creating new woodland or in several cases, improving or developing walking and riding routes. Quite challenging work at times but very rewarding when successful and people start enjoying the results.

I first became aware, sometime in the 2000s, of research suggesting that exposure to or opportunities to enjoy woodland, parks, coast and other greenspace can have a measurable, positive effect on people’s health. I don’t think I was surprised at the time because I know it does me good. And if I benefit from being amongst trees, why wouldn’t everyone? But to hear about results of scientific research that spell out increased rates of recovery from surgery enjoyed by hospital patients who are able to see woodland, and improved mental and physical health of people who walk in woods, provided confirmation and I remember thinking at the time, that this should lead to a massive increase in the country’s investment in its collective greenspace. I believe there was some change, but it was nothing like what I had hoped for. No great surprise really.

Serious relaxation in Bottoms' Corner - basket making with Wassledine

Serious relaxation in Bottoms’ Corner

These days I spend a huge amount of time in two woods, earning part of our income from coppicing and processing small diameter wood. I still suffer plenty of moments of stress but I do feel that every day at work has an element of therapy. Even those cold, dismally damp, dark days of February do it for me. I know – it’s not that simple – I hear you say. There’s a large element of physical work and that’s important for my health; I’m doing something for myself that I really believe in and that has to be good and I rarely spend a whole day sat at a desk as I used to for a couple of days in the week and from what I understand, that sedentary lifestyle is a real killer. Even so, the very fact of being in amongst trees has to be significant.

We enjoy sharing time in the woods with others – that’s friends and customers. Our Days in the Wood have been really successful. We run days of tuition for adults to learn how to make things from willow and other woods.  I think their success is as much to do with the experience of just being in the woods as the act of learning something new. I’m increasingly thinking of them as days of relaxation or even meditation.

This is borne out by some our customers’ reactions: I came away with a basket that I was proud of and felt so happy and relaxed after spending time in the woods. Love the tranquil setting. Fabulous venue. Wonderful place. Beautiful location, friendly people.

I’ve been wondering if we could sell days where we just sit and relax in the wood – chat, drink tea and cogitate. Would anyone be willing to pay for that? I love being in any wood, but Bottoms’ Corner is pretty special, especially as it’s a plantation of only 2.5 hectares and 20 years old. So maybe…  ..perhaps we should give it a try in 2019.

If you’d like to find out more, take a look at what’s coming up here https://wassledine.co.uk/a-day-in-the-woods/courses-and-events/

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