As our lives become more sedentary and working hours get longer, Sarah Freeman reports on a new month-long campaign to encourage us to go wild.
So it turns out that whatever I might like to think, I’m not very wild at all. It’s probably no surprise. I live in a city. Each day, I drive to another city for work and the closest I get to nature is the odd run through a park and along the side of the River Ouse in York. With earphones in and head down, I suspect that doesn’t count for much either.
However, I am not alone. While much has been written about how children have become disconnected with nature, most adults also don’t venture into the great outdoors enough. There comes an age when we feel too old to skim stones and when work takes over everything, the pleasures of the simple things in life are often lost.
It’s something the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has become increasingly aware of, which is why it is about to launch its 30 Days Wild campaign, which will challenge people to commit one wild act every day for a month. The organisation has come up with 101 suggestions and while some may be more tricky than others to complete - follow a bee and see where it leads you is right up there on the list - the idea is to get people thinking more about the natural world.
“We know that a generation of children are growing up disconnected from nature - only one in 10 ever plays in wild places,” says Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison, who is backing the month-long campaign. “But it’s a problem which affects adults too. Yorkshire is full of opportunities for everyone to engage with nature and make it part of their every day lives.
“June is the perfect time for hunting orchids as their tight spikes of flowers begin to open across our meadows. Young birds such as kingfishers can also be spotted and at this time of year badgers have to forage in the light of the evening.”
thirty ways to go wild
1. Switch off technology: Even just 24 hours without the distraction of mobiles, tablets and, dare we say it, the TV, is good for the soul.
2. Spot orchids: Try heading for Ashberry Nature Reserve in the North York Moors which is home to early marsh, heath spotted and the common spotted orchid.
3. Go on the trail of the red squirrel: The Widdale Red Squirrel Reserve near Hawes, is one of only 16 areas in the UK dedicated to preserving the red squirrel in its natural habitat
4. Track a badger: Cropton Forest runs organised watches from now until August to see these nocturnal creatures in their natural environment.
5. Go off-piste: Just for once plan a different route to work, perhaps taking in a nearby park or churchyard. It should also help break up the routine of the week.
5. Inhale the scent of a wildflower: Quick and easy this one. Or at least it is once you find a wild flower. Head to the local park and breathe deeply. Simple.
7. Get up with the lark: As tempting as it is to press the snooze button, at least one day get up at dawn and go for an early morning stroll while watching the sun rise and listening to the birds sing.
8. Try your hand at rock balancing: This is one art form that doesn’t need a lot of equipment. In fact all you need is rocks. And patience. If you want inspiration, take a look at the website of rock artist Adrian Gray.
9. Go tree swimming: Ignoring the odd looks from passersby, walk through woodland with a mirror tilted skywards and enjoy a real bird’s eye view.
10. Go barefoot: You need to choose your spot with a little care, but discard socks and shoes to feel the cool grass beneath your feet. For the more advanced, squidge in mud.
11. Build a den: If you can get your hands on branches and bracken, great. If not, a sheet and some rope will do.
12. Make a moth trap: Watch these creatures up close by draping rope, soaked in (cheap) wine and sugar, over tree branches. Shine a torch on them and watch them flit.
13. Cook outdoors: At least once during June make sure that you have an al fresco breakfast and dinner.
14. Go wild swimming: The local pool is one thing, but taking a dip in a pond, river or even the sea is altogether more exhilarating.
15. Climb a tree: If you’ve not scaled the heights since you were a child, go carefully, but it’s guaranteed to get the adrenaline following.
16. Record birdsong: There’s nothing more relaxing than the gentle twitter of birds. Set as your ringtone and every time someone calls it will take you back to the wild.
17. Do some vertical gardening: Planting climbers creates nesting space as well as proving nectar for insects and berries for birds.
18. Forage: Mix a wild salad or leafy salad using a foraged ingredient. Elderflowers, dandelion leaves and nettles all have great flavours.
19. Build a loggery: Help protect the endangered stag beetle by placing a small pile of dead wood - oak and ash is good - in the corner of your garden.
20. Buy a bat detector: Bats’ high frequency calls are normally beyond the range of human hearing, but with a detector you can immerse yourself in a whole new world.
21. Feed the birds: Lay out fruit, nuts and cheese to attract more birds to the garden.
25. Go cloudspotting: We don’t look skywards enough, so borrow a telescope and track the constellations.
26. Sign a petition: One wild thing which can be squeezed into even the busiest day is to add your name to an online conservation petition.
27. Climb a hill: The more remote the better and when you get to the top take a picture
28. Grow borage: The plant is one of the most reliable sources of nectar for bees. You can also keep some of the flowers to freeze in ice cubes for those Pimms moments.
29. Play hide and seek: Relive your childhood and immerse yourself in nature with a quick game of hide and seek.
30. Celebrate the Feast of St John: On June 23 mark the day of the saint by following tradition and lighting a small bonfire and gathering medicinal herbs like St John’s Wort.