9 ways to get back in touch with your wild side

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Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean, where they filmed Star Wars!

After hibernating for most of winter, it’s hard to feel like I have a wild side (unless curling up in a duvet like a hedgehog counts?). But we all do, it’s an inherent part of the human species that we belong in and have the capacity to feel at one with nature. We evolved in the forests and the oceans and the savannahs, we cannot escape that even if some of us seem to want to. It’s why being outdoors surrounded by natural elements leaves us feeling more relaxed, focused, happier, more united with each other, more connected with our surroundings and, simply, helps us feel more alive.

So here’s 9 activities to take on this year to get back in touch with your inner wild. Some of these are new to me and I fully intend to do all of them before the year is out:

Go on a falconry day! You will be given your very own bird of prey for the whole day to learn how to handle, fly and potentially hunt with. I wasn’t even aware this was a thing until recently so it’s definitely on the cards for me and a friend later this year! We’re going to head to this one in Rutland as it’s so close to where I live.

Feel like an adventure? Try one of my favourite hobbies which is geocaching. Seek out the hidden treasure near you! All you need is a smart phone and a keen pair of eyes. I’ve discovered so many interesting places through geocaching, including ending up following the trail of hoofprints from wild boar in the Forest of Dean.

Become a member of your favourite environmental or wildlife charity. What’s that one organisation that gives you hope for the future?  It’s so important to give something back when nature give us so much. Supporting this work helps us to be more connected with what we love and proactive in the face of destruction and decline.  For me, it’s the Marine Conservation Society, which I just joined.

Leading on from MCS, another way to give back is to go to a beach clean. I’ve signed up to be a Beachwatch volunteer with them and I hope to join a beach clean in Norfolk in a few months. Surfers Against Sewage also host some beach clean events. Plastic in our oceans is one of our biggest environmental challenges but here’s an enjoyable way to make a difference.

Topping my bucket list is the chance to walk with wolves.  Yes you can do that here in the UK. I couldn’t believe it. They are one of my favourite animals because they are so spellbinding to see. There’s the UK Wolf Conservation Trust in Reading and the Anglia Wolf Society in Bedford. Both expensive but surely worth it!

Challenge yourself to climb a mountain. Looking back on last year, climbing Snowdon was definitely one of the most rewarding moments for me.

Take up nature photography. I had my first lesson last weekend with proper DSLR cameras and intimidating lenses. We found that despite the bleary winter day there was small beauties to be found through the magic of a camera lense. From a pockmarked leaf with tiny insects resting on it to the last shining red berries on a tree. But you don’t really need an expensive camera, a phone will suffice. Just go out and give yourself a new perspective on the nature around you.

If the weather really is too miserable to venture out, use the opportunity to get into nature writing. I highly recommend ‘H for Hawk’ by Helen Macdonald which centres around Helen’s experiences of grief combined with the training of her young goshawk. Her writing is almost poetic and fantastical. She really captures my feelings about nature and our relationship with animals in a way I could never even begin to articulate.

And lastly, because I’m a nemophilist, possibly the best place for me to be wild is walking in the woods. I get an instant escape when I’m within the trees, they are havens that the sometimes grey harshness of modern life can never quite touch. Every occasion exploring the woods is a new adventure. The heartening thing is that most woods in the UK have actually been made or heavily influenced by us. We are as much a part of the woods as the trees themselves. Find woods near you, ancient or new, to explore here.

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