As the British weather begins to feel a bit more hopeful and with the bluebells and blossoms in full bloom, the beginning of May is the best time to enjoy one of the most under-appreciated forms of exercise: walking. 

The positive effects of walking on both mind and body are profound. Notably, walking in nature helps us to process emotions, and is used in conjunction with treatment for anxiety and depression as well as in recovery from grief. There is a profound joy to be had in immersing oneself in nature, to be reminded of the changeable beauty of world, and how fortunate we are to witness it. 

According to Friends of the Earth UK, 1,108 neighbourhoods in the UK in which 9.6 million people live, approaching one in every five people in the country. If you are lucky enough to live in Hampshire, you have the privilege of being within close reach of the South Downs National Park, and it would be foolish to waste it. 

With a variety of landscapes, ranging from dense forest, quiet valleys and the vast rolling hills of the downs themselves, walking Hampshire’s many paths and trails is an ideal way to exercise, socialise and reconnect with nature. If that's not incentive enough, there exists an abundance of cafes catering for locals and nature seekers alike.

If you’re looking for somewhere to start, try The Yard, in Chilton Candover. Nestled in the Candover Valley, The Yard has a fresh simple menu, offering beautiful local food and drink within an equally beautiful setting. Only 22 minutes from Winchester, surrounded by footpaths, this farm turned café is the perfect way to make the most of what Hampshire’s countryside has to offer. 

This spring, experience the pure peace and gratitude to be had in the simple act of walking, and move into summer with a new appreciation for our very own “green and pleasant land”.

  • This article was written by Francesca Hartley, from Peter Symonds College, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter Scheme.