Hanna Tamminen shares the story of her first visit to Gosforth Nature Reserve and reflects on the benefits of nature for relieving stress.
After a year of membership and volunteering, I finally had the chance and the privilege to visit NHSN’s Gosforth Nature Reserve. Our third week of lockdown began with a long-awaited walk around the reserve – passing roe deer, birds, and plenty of beautiful sights. Fellow masked walkers, bird watchers and volunteers were greeted, and I enjoyed a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of city life and being stuck at home staring at the birds in my mother in laws garden. I was greeted by not a bullying magpie family, but many small birds in the feeding station, a cormorant, and mute swans by the Ridley hide.
The COVID safety measures in GNR were great – a members-only policy, sanitation stations and strict social isolation rules were in place. Having safe access to nature during the pandemic is a crucial and therapeutic experience. Hearing the hum of cars as you walk the paths deeper and deeper into the forest lifts a sigh of relief out of the weariest of traveller. Smelling the nature, seeing wildlife, sitting down in a hide for a bit and soaking up the serotonin from the scenery – and afterwards, cleaning mud off your shoes – make for a brilliant day visit. We got to see deer for the first time, so close to us hiding in the ferns, just around 15 metres away. The three of us were in awe, still and silently trying to take awful quality pictures with our phones! As we finished our little trip, I was determined to get binoculars for my next visit.
The walk around the reserve brought me back to little trips growing up in a small rural town in Finland, where nature was always five or so minutes away. These sanctuaries for flora and fauna alike can treat not only city induced anxieties but also corona induced homesickness, as I will not be able to visit my family for Christmas. Nature has a wonderful transcending effect to it, makes you think of memories, odd thoughts, and such, bypassing the stress and worries of everyday life, as you look up at the canopy, see the plants sway in the wind and hear a pheasant scream bloody murder as you walk by. Crunchy leaves, spotting mushrooms and chatting with the fellow walkers presents a great change to ordinary, home-dwelling COVID reality.
Having a wonderful reserve such as this just a rock’s throw away from Newcastle city centre is great, and certainly worth the visit. Bring wellies, if possible – binoculars are a great idea, you will see birds! A light lunch, face mask and a cosy jacket, and you are sorted.
Share your lockdown reflections
How has Coronavirus affected your thoughts, actions, or appreciation of nature, the place you live, or the wider environment?
Help capture a moment in time by sharing your Notes from a Lockdown Naturalist; a snapshot of your thoughts and reflections on the natural world during lockdown.
You could write a short article, create some art, compose a poem. It’s up to you.