Mental Health Awareness Week – Our favourite nature spots

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Solent Mind is running a week-long campaign ‘Get Back to Nature’ during Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May) to raise awareness about the benefits of nature to people’s mental health and wellbeing. So we asked some of the team for their favourite nature spots when they need to get away from it all.

Methoni – Dee Mavraki

Dee Mavraki - Greece

Let me introduce you to Methoni, my little piece of paradise. When I am there – physically or mentally – I can breathe out all my worries and breath in happiness. I am not thinking, I am just feeling.

Kingley Vale – Henry Carless

Henry Carless - PPC specialist at Vertical Leap - favourite spot is Kingley Vale
Visiting the ancient yew forest (the oldest in Europe) of Kingley Vale is like stepping into a Tolkien novel. Some of the trees are well over 1,000 years old, and they look it. From the yew forest you can hike up through the vale to the top of Bow Hill, on top of which stand The Devil’s Humps – four Bronze Age barrows, which offer an incredible view of the Solent and the South Downs. Fun fact is that Kingley Vale includes a stretch of The Monarch’s Way, a footpath which follows the approximate route of King Charles II’s escape to France after defeat by Cromwell in 1651. (Photo courtesy of

Liss Ranges – Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchel - Finance Manager at Vertical Leap - favourite spot is Liss ranges

My favourite local spot is Liss Ranges near Petersfield. The views are over to Portsmouth and Isle of Wight, and it makes me feel on top of the world.  There’s always so much wildlife which gives a sense of freedom in a sometimes-crazy busy world. There are so many paths to take and each one brings a different view.

Middle of nowhere – Dave Colgate

Dave Colgate - Head of SEO at Vertical Leap - favourite spot is in his plane in the middle of nowhere

This is one of my favourite places. It’s a field like any other with a short bit of mowed grass down the centre, in the middle of nowhere in north Hampshire. I can fly into it without anyone else around, get out of the plane and just sit in near total silence on the grass. Total bliss.

Old Portsmouth Beach – Kirsty McLean

Kirsty McLean - Head of Creative at Vertical Leap - favourite spot is Old Portsmouth beach

My favourite spot is the beach down by the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth. I love this beach for loads of reasons. It’s a great place to sit and think, and you can watch all the boats go in and out of the harbour which is quite soothing. I grew up in Portsmouth and find the sea has a really positive effect on my mental health, so listening to the waves on the pebbles always lifts my mood ☺️ There’s also a lovely cafe just round the corner to grab a coffee!

The Ridgeway / White House Hill – Callum Coard

Callum Coard - PPC specialist at Vertical Leap - favourite spot is the Ridgeway

When I’m back in Oxfordshire, I always take myself off to the Ridgeway/White House Hill in Uffington for a long run. It provides 360 degrees of stunning views, overlooking the countryside I grew up in, which is steeped with history and mystery; dating back to the Neolithic era. Despite the beauty, I find the whole area adds a level of perspective and reminds me how inconsequential my anxieties are in the grand scheme of my life and right now. Realising how generations of ancestors have endured to sculpt the landscape around me and persevered to build a better life for themselves. Plus the Cotswolds is stunning.

Southsea Beach – Mel Soutar

Mel Soutar - Business Development Manager at Vertical Leap - favourite spot is Southsea beach

I love to walk along the seafront at Southsea (whatever the weather). The sunsets are incredible! It always helps to calm my mind and rids me of any anxious thoughts when I can breathe in the sea air. It also provides me with option to do a quick walk for an hour or so if I want to/have time. Even when it’s busy down there I seem to be able to drown out the noise and feel calmer. It’s always been my happy place and, not being born down here, I never take it for granted, unlike my husband and son who rarely venture to the seafront. Their loss if you ask me! (Photo courtesy of

Kingley Vale – Michelle Hill

Michelle Hill - Marketing Manager at Vertical Leap - favourite spot is Kingley Vale

Like Henry above, my favourite local nature spot is also Kingley Vale on the South Downs. The walk to the top passes the most amazing trees, the oldest living things in the UK! You have to really watch your step as there are so many roots so it’s a great way to focus the mind and stop it wandering. At the top, the views are fantastic, you can see for miles. It’s like being on top of the world (well, Sussex!) – really invigorating and away from all the hustle and bustle of life. Great for the legs and the soul.

We hope we’ve inspired you to get out in nature and go and visit some of these amazing places. Nature plays such an important role in helping us maintain good mental health, as well as physical health. Let us know where you go – we’d love to see your photos – tweet us at @VerticalLeap.

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Michelle Hill

Michelle joined Vertical Leap in 2011 as Marketing Manager, having spent the previous 15 years of her marketing career in the recruitment, leisure and printing industries. Her passions include dogs, yoga, walking, cycling, the beach, mountains and tapas.

More articles by Michelle
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