We came a little late to this research, but as meteorological autumn begins, and the nights start drawing in, we thought it was a good time to cast off any gloom at the imminent end of the British summer and highlight how wonderful autumn is, and how good it can be for your health.
In 2014 The National Trust undertook some research that showed how a walk in the colours of autumn can lift the mood, even as the health giving properties of the light fade.
The National Trust found that more than eight out of 10 (84%) people felt that bright autumn walks made them feel happier, healthier and calmer. About 70% of those surveyed felt a lowering of their mood as the days shorten but almost 50% admitted that they did not get out in the fresh air often enough
It is not just a matter of filling your lungs, however. Colour psychologist Angela Wright is quoted as saying:
“Natural colour schemes can inspire us and lift our spirits. Autumn, combined with the rich light at this time of year, is a flamboyant blaze of intense colours with each affecting us in a different way……Fresh air, exercise and the sense of getting away from it all play a positive role in improving our well-being. However it’s the colours that we experience which are the most powerful tonic to affecting our mood.”
Autumn is a time for reflection and taking stock and for many seems melancholy, heralding endings. Children dread the end of summer holidays and head back to a new school year and parents have to get used to packing young adults off to University. But it is also a time of great bounty as many enjoy a harvest festival and the hedgerows fill with nuts and berries, stored by wildlife to see them over the coming winter.
The Trust drew up a list of some of the best places to experience the full range of autumn colours- those delicious reds and oranges through to exotic purples and deep evergreens. None of the suggestions, from Snowdonia to Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire are close to Somerset, so we were curious to know whether there is a favourite local walk you like to take as the leaves turn. We are, after all, in a county with a wide variety of landscapes. One of our favourites is the Red Walk Trail in the Great Wood at Ramscombe in the Quantock Hills, where ancient oak jostle with spruce and fir and you can, if you are lucky, spot the occasional deer….
So on those beautiful, misty mornings over the Somerset Levels or on a cool, sunny Sunday afternoon, where do you head to kick over the traces and breathe in that distinctive musty autumn smell?