Lockdown has shown many people how important nature is for one’s mental wellbeing, and there are many spots locally to connect with nature.

This year Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW), runs from Monday May 10 to today (May 16) and the theme is nature. 

The Mental Health Foundation says: “Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, that it’s almost impossible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world.” 

For anyone wishing to embrace nature and take a tranquil walk, here are some of the best spots that are just a short distance away.

The Chess Valley Walk

It follows the River Chess for 10 miles from Rickmansworth to Chesham. 

Watford Observer: Chess ValleyChess Valley

Passing through the beautiful scenery of the Chess Valley, a landscape rich in wildlife, you will discover the site of a Roman villa, pass the 13th century Chenies Manor and see the watercress beds at Sarratt. 

Heartwood Forest

The forest is an 858-acre site in Sandridge, St Albans. It is the largest continuous new native forest in England. 

Watford Observer: Heartwood ForestHeartwood Forest

With pockets of ancient bluebell woodland, wildflower meadows and open grassland, the forest is at its most colourful between May and August. 

The Ivinghoe and Pitstone Hills

The Ivinghoe and Pitstone Hills are designated as a site of special scientific interest for its very special wildlife. The whole area falls within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

Watford Observer:

Ivinghoe Beacon is where you can admire the far-reaching views over several counties, follow the pathways in spring and summer and you will see lots of wildflowers and butterflies. 

Rickmansworth Aquadrome

The aquadrome is a popular area which has a number of attractive walks around the lakes or along the River Colne and Grand Union Canal. 

Watford Observer: Photo: Rebecca Yu / Watford Observer Camera ClubPhoto: Rebecca Yu / Watford Observer Camera Club

Leavesden Country Park

The park has been rated as one of the UK’s best kept secrets according to a national survey. 

Watford Observer: Leavesden Country park 2019 © Photography by Pete StevensLeavesden Country park 2019 © Photography by Pete Stevens

It covers an area of over 27 hectares and consists of walking/biking paths, a football pitch, wildlife areas, tennis courts, a children’s play area and an outdoor gym for adults. 

Leavesden Country Park is located off College Road in Abbots Langley and is formed on the grounds originally belonging to the Leavesden Asylum and St. Pancras Orphanage. 

Verulamium Park

Located in St Albans and named after the Roman city of Verulamium on which it stands, the area includes 100 acres of parkland and an ornamental lake. 

Watford Observer: Verulamium Park (Photo: Street View)Verulamium Park (Photo: Street View)

With the city walls and outline of the London Gate tucked away amongst the open spaces, you're likely to learn a history lesson as well as enjoying a day out. 

Broxbourne Woods

Broxbourne Woods is near Cheshunt and there is also a sculpture trail which makes it perfect for family walks. 

Watford Observer: Broxbourne WoodsBroxbourne Woods

To watch a short video created by the Mental Health Foundation click here https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week 

For more information about mental health visit Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/