A spring hike in Bradgate Park

A few weeks ago, I shared my Spring 2022 Bucket List, and one of my main goals was to go on a long nature hike. I want to exercise more and do more outdoor activities this season, and I think walking around country parks is a great way to add that extra activity while still avoiding the depressing gym.

The weather this past weekend has been surprisingly good, not cold but also not too hot for a morning hike. We chose Bradgate Park for its proximity to where we live and the chance of seeing some deer.

They are so used to people walking by them they don’t even react if you approach them to take a picture

I love the park’s main entrance next to the River Lin, where you can see ducks and swans. We went early in the morning when it still wasn’t full of people, but when we were going back on this path around 1 pm, it was full of families having picnics and children walking inside the smallest bits of the river.

I’m glad we went early and had some park areas to ourselves. I wanted the calmness and quiet of being surrounded by nature, not screaming children.

Once we started the hike, I realised how out of shape I was. My partner and I were taking turns carrying a backpack with water and snacks, and so was my luck that I had to carry it during the last and hardest bit of the hike up the highest hill. It was suddenly hot but cold at the same time, when you can get a sunburn but the air is too cold to feel it. I struggled to make it to the top, but I got there. We sat for a while, eating grapes and crackers and drinking lots of water.

But the views from the top are worth it. The park has multiple hills, and one of them has the Old John Tower from the 18th century. It’s a famous landmark around here which I had never heard of.

I was a bit disappointed with the lack of spring. I thought we’d see flowers in all colours and shapes, but instead, what we found were primarily dry areas with lots of green and yellow and trees that are supposedly 500 years old.

I have to come back in the autumn, this tree is probably stunning in orange.

While going on this hike, I couldn’t stop thinking of this quote from the book I was reading at the time, The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking.

Shinrin-yoku literally translates to “forest bathing,” or taking in the atmosphere of the forest, and refers to soaking up the sights, smells, and sounds of a natural setting to promote physiological and psychological health.

I focused on the sounds and smells around me, and how I could finally breathe fresh air instead of the city air I’m used to. There was no noise, just sounds coming from the wind and animals around us. It was a great experience.

I needed a pick-me-up this month, which is why I bought Meik Wiking’s book because it’s focused on happiness, but what helped me the most was this hike. When you live in a crowded city, it’s easy to forget there’s more to life than just work and our personal problems. And taking a few hours to walk around nature, focusing only on your surroundings, really does help you feel better. Or at least it did for me.

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