SWINDON, England, Feb. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Trust has announced a major shift in its focus as it aims to help more people enjoy to outdoors and get closer to nature by focusing on walking, cycling and camping.
The charity -- often narrowly and wrongly associated only with country houses -- will promote a range of activities that take place on the land it looks after, including walking, mountain biking, kayaking, surfing and camping, with over a thousand summer events aimed at helping children get closer to nature.
Fiona Reynolds, director-general of the National Trust, said: "For too long it's felt that outdoor spaces have been the Trust's best kept secret. We want to play our part in helping to reconnect the nation with outdoor spaces, whether in the Lake District or a local park.
"Over 100 years ago one of the Trust's founders, Octavia Hill, argued that quiet, air and exercise, together with the sight of sky and growing things, were human needs common to all people.
"A growing body of research backs her intuition*, but over a century later we still don't seem to value enough the physical and spiritual refreshment we get from our surroundings."
The main outdoors activity for the National Trust in 2011 will be focused on walking. Working with local communities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the charity will create 100 miles of new community walking routes as part of a major outdoor celebration planned for 22-30 October 2011.
It's hoped that thousands of members of the public will be involved in helping design local routes, clear undergrowth and tread the walking routes for the first time. The outdoors celebration will also include mass participation events giving people the chance to explore autumn colours and will launch the Trust's commitment to create a target 1,000 miles of new trails by 2020.
During 2011 there will also be a series of seven cycling challenge rides at Trust places from Pembrokeshire to Cambridgeshire. In July the Trust's first ever cycling festival will take place at more than twenty places throughout the country including an evening community bike ride at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire and a kids On Your Bike weekend at Scotney Castle in Kent.
Jo Burgon, Outdoors Programme Director at the National Trust said: "It's clear that people simply love being outdoors surrounded by nature and walking is the easiest way to do that. We want to work with our local communities to help shape and create new walking routes on our land for people to explore and get closer to nature."
The Trust currently has more than fifty campsites on its land -- many run by tenant farmers -- and plans for this year include creating a network of new, simple campsites in stunning locations. In Snowdonia the Trust has just launched green yurt holidays and will promote its thirty bunkhouses as great places to base walking weekends.
* For example:
Essex University found that as little as five minutes of 'green exercise' can have significant mental health benefits (Barton J and Pretty J. 2010. 'What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health? A Multi-Study Analysis', Environmental Science and Technology DOI: 10.1021/es903183r).
A survey for the National Trust revealed that 80 per cent of the happiest people in the UK said they have a strong connection with nature, compared with just 37 per cent of the unhappiest (The TNS survey of 1,294 UK adults was commissioned as part of the National Trust's inquiry into public access and enjoyment of the outdoors. The survey took placed on Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 December 2010.)
About the National Trust:
The National Trust is a charity that looks after nearly 25,000 hectares (61,000 acres) of woodland in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including 22,457 hectares (55,000 acres) in England alone. Its 250,000 hectares of land include 710 miles of coastline, countryside and upland areas that are rich in wildlife and open to public access.
The National Trust offers many attractions for visitors to take part in including conservation holidays, online walking routes and cycle paths.
SOURCE The National Trust