Sensory Walks

Published on: 01/08/21

If you followed last week’s blog, you’ll all be heading out in the countryside, exploring the stunning range of fields, fells, lakes, coastline, woods (and tearooms!) the UK has to offer. Our varied countryside offers the opportunity to explore it inactive and adventurous ways, like hiking, running, cycling, canoeing, climbing, and even soaring above it on a hang glider.

However, the benefits of slowing down, immersing yourself in, and appreciating nature are increasingly being recognised, as well as offering more inclusive and accessible walks for all. Just going for a walk lets you get outside, be active, connect with nature, and experience benefits including improved social connections, reduced anxiety and stress, improved self-esteem, and improved mood and sleep quality.

This week we’re looking at ways to take it to the next level, with curated Sensory Walks.

What’s a sensory walk?

A sensory walk enables a more conscious, deliberate immersion in your natural surroundings, focusing on touch and smell, as well as visual details to expand even a short walk into a multisensory, multidimensional experience. A great way to enjoy your environment, they help you explore and discover new sights and sounds.

Guiding you to use your senses to connect with your surroundings whilst you stay active, sensory walks are also pleasurable and inclusive for people with physical and mental impairments and needs, giving opportunity for an enjoyable and meaningful sensory experience.

The deafblind charity Sense has partnered with Ordnance Survey to map sensory walking routes around the country, as well as developing supporting resources and training, walk leaders. Sense walks are designed to be accessible to people with complex disabilities but can be enjoyed by anyone.

Go to the Sense website to find a walk near you. They cover the country, and new ones are being added all the time, like the examples we’ve picked out. You can book onto sensory group walks led by trained facilitators, or simply print the route or download the app to go at your leisure. You don’t need any specialist equipment and the walks can be any length you like. On foot, using a wheelchair or walker- sensory walks are inclusive for all and open up a whole new world.

Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets, London

Anyone can have a sensory adventure, even in the middle of our biggest city. This 1.7km walk takes you around the park on paved, wheelchair-friendly paths through trees, along the lake, and through various garden areas. Download or follow the route, for sensory investigation including the sound of water and movements of birds on West Lake, the texture and temperature of statues, and the colour, texture, smells, and sounds of leaves in the trees and roses in the sunken garden, culminating in the noises of children enjoying the park playground.

Coventry Canal Basin, West Midlands

A 3km mile route up and down the historic Coventry Canal, starting from the Canal Basin in the heart of the city. Explore both old and new features and artwork, and encounter a variety of species of wildlife. The surface is over various flat hard surfaces and is suitable for wheelchairs. A few obstacles to navigate have also been incorporated into the waymarked sensory highlights to explore along the route, including cobbled pieces of the pathway, textured floor mosaics to feel or create rubbings from, iron sculptures, and historic and modern bridges along the route.

Clifton Park, Rotherham, Yorkshire

Clifton Park in the heart of Rotherham is a wonderful place for the whole family. Sensory highlights based around trees, flowers, waterfalls, and even a fun park will be experienced throughout this 0.7km walk, which can be made longer for those who want to. Clifton Park contains beautiful examples of different styles of garden, including a walled garden, memorial garden, carpet bed, and rock garden, as well as a community garden for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs. With parkland, sports pitches, rides, games, and even an amazing museum, the walk can easily form the core of fun and a whole family-engaging day out in the park.

Chopwell Wood, High Spen, Gateshead

This 1.5km circular walk is set within Chopwell Wood, a 360-hectare mixed woodland gem, set right on the fringe of Gateshead. A good walk for people who are new to walking, it is classed as an easy walk for all abilities, with a lightly dusted flat gravel path accessible for wheelchair usage. You’ll be guided to take in sights, sounds and scents from the local environment, discovering a tree isn’t one thing, it’s a sensory collection of bark, twigs, leaves, windsong, insects, birds, sun, shade, and moving shadows. Keep your eyes open and you may spot wildlife highlights like deer and red kites.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We have also put together a list of frequently asked questions at the link below, which include some Top Tips and Did you know information, which you can use to show off with your friends and family

  • Read our frequently asked questions (FAQs) - Click Here

We hope that you have enjoyed reading our article called Sensory Walks and that you have found the information above include our FAQ page helpful in deciding on which venue you to choose for your Activities and Days Out

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