Naturally Healthy opportunities

Volunteering Outdoors

Volunteer outdoors, look after wildlife and get fit at the same time!  Fancy planting trees, digging a pond or clearing invasive species?  Many organisations have volunteering opportunities, here are some:


  • RSPB has volunteering opportunities on nature reserves and to spot birds.
  • Devon Wildlife Trust has volunteering opportunities on woodland or healthland nature reserves; as a tin collector; or help at Wembury Marine Centre.
  • Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust have many volunteering opportunities such as managing the countryside, farmland, caring for farm animals and helping in visitor centres.
  • National Trust has many types of volunteering opportunities, indoors and out, in gardens or along the coast.
  • Dartmoor National Park – Volunteer to take part in lots of activities and gain new skills
  • Exmoor National Park – Lots of opportunities to volunteer outdoors
  • Blackdown Hills AONB have opportunities all year round to take part in outdoor conservation volunteering.
  • East Devon AONB run a range of projects which you can help volunteer with across East Devon
  • Tamar Valley AONB have a programme of volunteering opportunities for you to get involved in.
  • Volunteer for your local council’s countryside team, here are a few:
  • The Conservation Volunteers’ Green Gyms are fun and free outdoor sessions where you will be guided in practical activities such as planting trees, sowing meadows and establishing wildlife ponds.  Unfortunately there are currently no TCV Green Gyms in Devon.  If you’d like to set one up please contact them……….


growing together devon 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.  For inspiration, stories and contact details see their website.

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. 
This therapy is known as social and therapeutic horticulture – the process of working with plants to improve physical and psychological health, and communication and thinking skills.   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.


You don’t have to look far to find stories of people who have used exercise to overcome depression.  Running in particular can deliver both mental and physical benefits by releasing a chemical goodness through the body not dissimilar to the same effect a drug has on addicts, just without the harmful side effects, or cost.

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
Free weekly 5km runs for all abilities.   Click your nearest Parkrun below for more information.  Parkrun UK is a not-for-profit organisation working with local councils and volunteers.  These events are aimed at 15yrs to adults.

Tamar Lakes Parkrun
Rock Park, Barnstaple, Parkrun
Bideford Parkrun
Killerton, Broadclyst, near Exeter, Parkrun
Exeter Quay & Riverside Valley Park Parkrun
Exmouth Parkrun
Parke Estate near Bovey Tracey Parkrun
Torbay Velopark Parkrun
Plymbridge Woods, Plymouth 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.

Cyclist on moorSee Cycle Devon or Explore Devon for more cycling ideas.

Travel Devon offers support for workplaces to get more people cycling. See or email for more information.

 Bikeability is the Start of your Journey film


Aquafolium is a Devon based social enterprise which aims to reconnect people with nature through activities such as Forest Bathing and foraging.  See their website for more information or read a blog.

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.


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