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autumn walks
october 10 2016

“ Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”

There have been times when the romanticism of Keats’ famous words “To Autumn” jar heavily with the thick fog and driving rain of autumns past- but not this year. In West London where I live we’ve had days of glorious sunshine, where the special seasonal light coats everything with a warm golden hue and it’s been a pleasure to sit in parks watching the leaves fall from trees, squirrels hoarding, red deer rutting and the last few flowers of the year elegantly fading.

The colours of autumn are so vibrant and even in London there is an earthiness to the air that we breathe, it gives me an instinctive urge to get out and make the most of it and I’m not alone. A couple of years ago a National Trust survey found that 80% of people surveyed agreed that Autumn walks made them feel happier, healthier and calmer even though 40% of those surveyed also felt down about the shortening days. In seeking some supporting evidence for these findings, The Huffington Post spoke to a colour psychologist Angela Wright, amongst others, who said that:

“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”.

The National Trust offers some suggestions for the best autumn walks to experience the ever-changing colours, but I’m sure that we all have our own favourites close to home too. Over the last week I’ve been to Osterley, Richmond and Holland Parks as well as Kew Gardens, all within 30 minutes from my home in West London. Each has offered a different lens through which to view and experience the beauty of the season and there is no doubt I’ve felt a very positive impact on my well-being.

The fading floral borders, the trees with last pieces of unpicked fruit and deck chairs under the falling leaves at Osterley created such a feeling of calmness and relaxation that I fell soundly asleep in spite of children and dogs kicking through crunchy leaves all around me.

At Richmond the rutting stags were watched with some caution as they roared territorially across the park at each other and thrashed their antlers through vegetation in an attempt to make themselves look even larger – an impressive display.

In Holland Park the very friendly grey squirrels – one even climbed up my trouser leg making him much too close to photograph- were torn between eating or hoarding the extravagant pecan and cashew nuts I was feeding them and the Acers in the Japanese garden where they played were stunning in the morning sunlight.
At Kew Gardens it was a much cooler day and this combined with displays of decorations in the shop made me realise that winter and dare I say it- Christmas- are just around the corner. But, I was very pleased to see that even the decorations were influenced by nature!

The one thing that has been ever-present on all of my walks has been the loud song and inquisitive beady eye of the robin, one of the very few birds that sing all year round in this country. The RSPB says that their song is “subdued and melancholy” at this time of year, but perhaps because there is much less competition in the autumn, to me it sounded stronger and more beautiful than ever.

For me there is no doubt at all that if we take the time to feel better outside then it really helps us to feel better on the inside. It’s the perfect time to pause, immerse yourself in the moment and connect with the changing world around you before the seasons move on again and winter is here.
Please share your favourite Autumn walks and photos with me on social media, I’d love to see them!