Jan 13, 2023

Wilderness Wellness

Nature reserves like Alladale in the Scottish Highlands don’t just feel like a balm for the body and mind – the science proves it.

There are very few people who don’t know that proximity to nature is good for the soul. Lockdown brought it all to the fore. As never before, disentangled from our regular commutes and home / work-bound lives, the world’s population reconnected with the natural environment – and recognised the benefits. While we may have slipped back into our conurbation-focused routines, there is no doubt that many of us recognised the importance of getting out in nature for our sanity, health and general wellbeing.

The restorative qualities of spending time outside of the urban environment have been well documented – with study after study showing the physical and mental benefits of interaction with nature. While previous generations would simply have attributed this to ‘fresh air’, researchers have analysed how this type of exposure actually affects us.

A report by the Mental Health Foundation in 2021 summarises the positive  impact of nature interaction on the human psyche. The study goes further – the specific type of nature has an effect, too. The more biodiverse, the more ‘wilderness’ we are immersed in, the better we feel. Nature interaction has been proven to reduce blood pressure and reduce muscle tension. It’s even been shown that walking around in a forest can improve our immune systems by increasing the number of ‘natural killer’ or NK cells in our bodies – cells which attack cancer cells and viruses. Exposure to nature has been attributed to an array of social benefits, including reduction in crime rate and improved social cohesion.

Wilderness reserves and eco-retreats offer the chance to benefit from that wilderness fix – without forcing you to shelter under a tarp, get hypothermia or walk for days to truly escape. Simon Moyes is a fan of the Alladale Wilderness Reserve in Scotland. 60 miles north of Inverness, the 23,000 acre propertysits deep in the Highlands – resplendent with wildlife, soaring mountains and dramatic glens. Even after a short visit, Simon says he feels happier, healthier and regenerated. For him, being in the remote highlands presses the re-set button, so he can go back to London life feeling more alive.

Alladale is not just a retreat – it has the main Victorian Lodge plus Eagles Crag and Ghillies Rest, all three come fully catered – the owners are passionate conservationists and deeply involved with wildlife and environmental projects not only in Scotland but across Europe and Belize

Alladale is partnered with The European Nature Trust, which supports wildlife and conservation projects across Europe. Anyone who visits this reserve in the Scottish Highlands is contributing to rewilding and education efforts, from the re-introduction of wildcats and beavers in Scotland to an extensive tree planting initiative across the north of Scotland.  You can find out more about The European Nature Trust here.

Combining the personal benefits of a retreat into wilderness with the social and environmental benefits of wide-ranging educational and conservation projects – Alladale isn’t just about ticking boxes. This is the sort of place where nature-based healing and health come hand-in-hand with the positive impacts of altruism.

You can find out more about Alladale Wilderness Reserve here.


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