On Tuesday evening I went running for the first time in nearly three months since fracturing a bone in my foot. I've missed getting out in the beautiful landscape and getting the headspace and exercise that comes with it.
I ran from the picturesque village of Culmstock along the River Culm through the water meadows to a little Woodland Trust reserve called Hunkin Wood where I stumbled on a granite gateway with a beautiful poem on it by Elizabeth Rapp.
The poem talks of hope and peace, it talks of diversity and inclusion, the life-giving force of nature, today's children and the children of the future. Weaving its way throughout are the river, the soil and the trees and wildlife they give life to.
The health benefits of living near or visiting green space or water and watching wildlife are becoming more widely known. Personally, I find that being immersed in nature helps me to switch off, relax and be grateful for the wild beauty around me. Being active and breathing in fresh air while running or walking alongside babbling water revitalises both mind and body. I come back calmer and with a clearer head and perhaps a teeny bit fitter. As a biologist myself I found All You Need Is Biology's Blog about The Health Benefits of Nature a nice summation of research on how interaction with nature can benefit adults and children alike.
We learnt this week that a donation we made (of a two night stay in one of our yurts) to a cancer charity in Bristol called Penny Brohn UK helped them to raise a whopping £76,000 for new bereavement support services. Penny Brohn is all about helping people to live well with cancer - advocating a whole person approach that incorporates support for the mind, spirit and emotional self as well as the body.
Visiting somewhere like Blackdown Yurts or Culmstock can benefit all of those. You can socialise with friends or family at the wonderful Culm Valley Inn and the beautiful picnic spot across the road. Perhaps buy some deli delights from The Strand Stores. Our children love paddling, dam building and playing in the inflatable canoe there. You can find solitude wild swimming, painting, walking or sitting reading should you wish.
Many of our guests walk between Uffculme and Culmstock (leave one car at each end if you don't want to do the return walk), often visiting Coldharbour Mill steam museum for a glimpse of Devon's wool-spinning heritage. They will be steaming up next on Father's Day (17th June). Mia and Felix visited and wrote a blog about their visit.
If you want a more strenuous walk to blow the cobwebs away - hike up to Culmstock Beacon, a fascinating yurt-shaped stone hut where the beacon warders would have sheltered from the weather and waited for that all important fire signal during the invasion of the Spanish Armada. The views from the top are quite breathtaking.
Culmstock is just over the border in Somerset on the western edge of the Blackdown Hills. It is a 15-minute-drive north from Blackdown Yurts and Halsbeer Farm via Ashill and Craddock.
The fabulous stone bridge at Culmstock is medieval in origin but was largely rebuilt after flooding in 1774 swept away one of the five arches. It was rebuilt with 6 arches. There is a record of request for money for repairs of the bridge as early as 1412!
We have various walking guides and maps available at Halsbeer Farm and Blackdown Yurts to help you find your way.