New research from the National Trust has found that the kaleidoscope of natural colours experienced on an autumn walk makes people feel happier, healthier and calmer  at a time when more than 40% of people in the East Midlands admit to feeling down as the nights draw in.
The conservation charity released the findings as part of its Great British Walk 2014, which launched this week with an invitation to enjoy a rainbow of walks. Shades of blue you find on walks by water or when the landscape is coloured by the evening’s darkening sky were found to help soothe away stress (38%), while the greens of hilltops and pine woodlands leave people feeling more connected with the natural world (50%).
Renowned colour psychologist, Angela Wright, was commissioned to produce a report alongside the findings assessing the importance of autumnal colours experienced in different environmental landscapes.
Angela said: “Natural colour schemes can inspire us and lift our spirits. Autumn, combined with the rich light at this time of the year, is a flamboyant blaze of intense colours with each affecting us in a different way.
“People are more susceptible to the effects of aesthetic influences in the natural world than to any other colour sources.
“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.”
Despite 76% of people in the East Midlands finding that autumn walks help to combat winter blues, 38% admit to not going on enough walks during the autumn months with 23% claiming it’s because they rarely get the chance to go on a stroll.
National Trust Wildlife and Countryside Consultant, Carl Hawke, said: “Autumn bursts with colour and life. It’s the best time to see nature and wildlife at its most spectacular, but it’s also a time of change and reflection.
“This season is the perfect time of year for walking. The trees and landscape start to turn every shade imaginable which lifts your spirits; it’s cooler, but not cold, and you could get a misty morning with those familiar damp smells or a clear, crisp day when everything appears to shine brighter.
“The National Trust looks after some beautiful gardens and landscapes in the East Midlands, and our role as a conservation charity is to maintain these fantastic places.”
To help encourage more people to make the most of the autumn palette the National Trust has unveiled its top walks inspired by the colours of autumn. Chosen by Trust rangers, they showcase the rainbow of colours and scenery that can be enjoyed across the East Midlands this September and October.
Top autumn colour walks
- The woodland ground is covered in red leaves at this time of year at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. En route you can discover the 18th century deer shelter and Calke’s very own National Nature Reserve, often home to the red fungi fly agaric. As you end the walk in the deer enclosure listen out for the calls of the rutting stags and see how many red deer you can spot.
- Explore the wider estate at Gunby Hall in Lincolnshire, with a visit to the recently renovated ice pond, a perfectly still place to capture autumn in reflections. As the leaves turn a warming copper colour and start to fall, you can catch a glimpse of the hall from a completely different angle.
- Take a walk through autumn colours at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire as see some of the magnificent trees, as the leaves turn golden brown and start to fall.
- Witness the changing seasons on the Ladywood Walk at Lyveden New Bield in Northamptonshire, with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. You may even spot the resident tawny owl or the red kites catching the thermals above.
This year’s Great British Walk takes place at National Trust properties all over the country from 8 September to 24 October. In addition to the top colour walks, there are over 1000 downloadable walks on the National Trust website and more than 2000 walking events.
The National Trust is encouraging the nation to join in and enjoy the autumn colours by getting out and sharing their vibrant walking photos on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #GBwalk.