Join in with The Wildlife Trusts #30DaysWild and challenge yourself to do something wild every day this June.
Here are some of my favourite ‘rewilding’ experiences to help you explore and reconnect with the wild places of the New Forest. And your local wild space – whether it’s an allotment or back garden – can be a magical place to discover. Read on for ideas…..
A barefoot hike in the woods: take off your shoes and let your feet rediscover the feeling of the earth, soft and damp; carpets of velvet moss; crunchy dried leaves and sticky mud between your toes. All your senses will be awakened – plus it’s really fun!
Paint a watercolour: catch the essence of a place and the moment. Through detailed observation and reflection you can raise your awareness of wildlife and the landscape around you. Seascapes provide constant movement, patterns and colours of the sea and sky; paint the peaceful rolling heathland landscapes of muted browns and greens to the sound of the gentle munching of grazing ponies and chirping crickets.
Make time for a sunset: The sun sets every day – how often do you stop to watch that beautiful, calming moment when time seems to slow down? There is something inherently powerful and spiritual about a sunset. What better way to be aware of the present moment than by watching the passing of time as the sun sinks below the horizon? Hatchet Pond is a great place to watch the sun disappear behind the still water and heather moor.
Meet a tree: Take a moment and sit under an ancient oak or beech tree. They all have their own character, with their own stories to tell, and the New Forest has hundreds and hundreds of old trees to meet. Think about what your tree might have seen and who has sat in this same spot. Make sure you ‘thank’ the tree before leaving by giving it a hug and wish it well for another 100 years or more.
Go ‘still hunting’: Find a quiet spot, blend into your surroundings and hunt for silence – watching for wildlife. Sit motionless and wait for nature to come back to life around you. You don’t need to know the names of the creatures and plants. Enjoy this deeper calmness and refocus if your mind begins to wonder.
Exotic encounters: Step out onto the heathland at dusk and listen for the unforgettable ‘churring’ call of a male nightjar. Their call contains up to 40 notes per second and can be heard several kilometres away on a still evening. These ground nesting birds are summer visitors from Africa and so this experience must be taken before they leave at the end of August.
Go fishing for a dragon: Sit quietly by the edge of a pond or small stream with a short stick held out. Dangle your feet in the water and it won’t be long before an inquisitive dragonfly will dart by to check you out and if you’re patient enough it might even perch on your stick. You’ll then be able to appreciate their beautiful colours and enormous eyes up close!
Listen to the Forest awakening: Awaken with the dawn chorus. Leave the comfort of your warm bed, half-an-hour before sunrise, to appreciate this exhilarating experience – you won’t be disappointed. Early summer is a busy, noisy time of day when songbirds sing to defend their territories and fledgling birds beg tired out parents for more food. A very tuneful wake-up call!
Sunshine spot: Sit amongst a patch of wild flowers to enjoy the coming and goings of fluttering butterflies and buzzy bumblebees as they visit flowers looking for food. How many different species of butterflies can you spot? Try charming a butterfly with a tempting plate of mashed banana – butterflies love ripe fruit.
What will be your first Wild challenge?