Naturally Healthy opportunities
There are loads of environmental volunteering opportunities across Devon. Everyone welcome and no experience needed for most activities.
- Devon Wildlife Trust
- Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust
- National Trust
- Dartmoor National Park
- Exmoor National Park
- Blackdown Hills AONB
- East Devon AONB
- North Devon AONB
- South Devon AONB
- Tamar Valley AONB
- Teignbridge Conservation Volunteers (TCV).
- East Devon District Council – wildeastdevon.co.uk
Walking is the most accessible activity and there are plentiful opportunities to get outside and explore. You can check out a list of Devon’s Nature Reserves and Landscapes or visit the Explore Devon website.
Walking in a group is an excellent way of meeting new people and sharing experiences. There are a large number of walking groups in Devon for a variety of abilities depending on your preference. There are also Nordic walking groups you can join.
Walking for Health offers a variety of free short walks across Devon. All ages and ability welcome. A few schemes are listed below:
Accessible Trails & Wildlife Reserves
Devon is blessed with the most stunning countryside, a lot of which is accessible to people with limited mobility, those in wheelchairs, families with pushchairs, toddlers on scooters or people who simply prefer a flatter or more easy-going surface without having to clamber over stiles or climb steep slopes. To find our more visit the Explore Devon website (see walking and wildlife).
You may also find the following websites useful:
Growing Together Devon is based in East Devon and uses gardening to support the well being of people and communities. They work with organizations to set up gardening programs which provide exercise, companionship and access to the outdoors.
Gardening for Health, Totnes. Free weekly gardening open to everybody. Join in Mondays from 2-4.30pm at The Lamb Garden, Cistern Street, Totnes. Gardening for Health is a Totnes Trust led project.
Growing Devon Schools recognises that increasing numbers of schools, and teachers within Devon’s schools, would like to start growing projects but lack the skills, knowledge and confidence to do so. By linking providers (including zoos, gardens, community groups, growers etc.) with their local schools, they aim to provide information about those skills and knowledge and inspire confidence.
Thrive uses gardening to bring about positive changes in the lives of people living with disabilities or ill health, or who are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable.
Thrive currently works largely in the SE but does hold a database of around 900 garden projects in the UK. Contact them for more details.
Wild Swimming and surfing
Devon is THE place in Britain to try Wild Swimming. Whether you want to float gently down an estuary or win the Dart 10km swim, you will be able to find advice and kindred spirits via the links below:
The WAVE Project brings people together through surfing. Their evidence-based surf therapy programme is proven to help young people feel less anxious and more positive. They run beach school projects to help children feel more engaged in education.
Beach Clean Activities
Plastic Free Communities are springing up all over Devon, many of which organise regular beach cleans. This can be a great way to get active and help the environment at the same time. The complete list can be viewed on the Surfers Against Sewage website. Some of the most active groups near the coast are listed below. Visit their websites to find out when the next organised beach cleans are scheduled:
- Plastic Free North Devon
- Plastic Free Torridge
- Sidmouth Plastic Warriors
- Plastic Free Lyme Regis
- Torbay Cleaner Coasts Initiative
- Plastic Free Dawlish
- South Hams Beach Clean Series
Running provides both mental and physical benefits – especially in Devon’s amazing countryside.
Dartmoor Training Co takes out informal running groups across the Dartmoor area and is aimed at people with mental health issues from depression to Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, and/or physical barriers that may prevent them from participating in exercise related activities. To cover costs a very small charge is made. See the website for more information.
Couch to 5km is a running plan for total beginners. For advice, the plan and inspirational case studies from people who have gone from the couch to completing a 5km run see the website.
Parkruns – Every Saturday at 9am
Totally fantastic free weekly 5km runs for all abilities and ages – dogs allowed!
Tamar Lakes Parkrun
Rock Park, Barnstaple, Parkrun
Killerton, Broadclyst, near Exeter, Parkrun
Exeter Quay & Riverside Valley Park Parkrun
Parke Estate near Bovey Tracey Parkrun
Torbay Velopark Parkrun
Plymbridge Woods, Plymouth Parkrun
Haldon Forest Parkrun
Devon Orienteering. Adults and children welcome! Orienteering means maps, forests and adventure. You can run, jog or walk and it doesn’t matter how young, old or fit you are, you go at your own pace. If you like excitement, fresh air and exploring the countryside, then Orienteering could be the sport for you. Give it a go!
Breeze is the biggest programme ever to get more women into riding bikes for fun. It aims to help thousands more women feel confident and comfortable about going on a ride.
Other Naturally Healthy opportunities
Dartmoor’s daughter runs guided walks and nature-connection experiences to transform health and wellbeing on beautiful Dartmoor.
Forest Chi organises events, classes and workshops across Devon. They create a space where people of all ages and from all walks of life can learn ways of connecting with nature.
Mindful-in-Nature, Sharpham Trust is supported by the Big Lottery Fund and is specifically designed to support mental health recovery, resilience and well-being for people aged 18+ living locally, combining mindfulness and nature connection.
Wild Ideas supports and deliver projects and learning to create healthier, greener communities and to bring people into contact with nature: in schools, in work and in our open spaces.
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