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Celebrate Wellbeing In Nature With Heritage Open Days

England’s largest festival of history and culture will return in September, thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

This year’s Heritage Open Days (HODs) theme is Hidden Nature and people are being encouraged to explore the places and spaces on their doorsteps to find the special spots that interest and energise them.  

Heritage Open Days uncovers the stories, sites, places and people that traditional history has overlooked or forgotten.

This autumn we will celebrate England’s extraordinary natural heritage: from centuries-old trees to the newest eco-farms, clifftop walks to urban oases, bats in belfries to dormice under floorboards, and everything in between.  

A recent study found that spending a couple of hours a week in green spaces – just over 15 minutes a day – is associated with better health and wellbeing, including mental health, depression, cardiovascular health and cognitive development.  

We’re hoping HODs events will help many more people experience the benefits of time spent outdoors. It will also provide the opportunity to connect with others, something we know many have missed over the last few months 

Nature is all around us, but it can sometimes be challenging to find it. Hidden Nature will encompass the broadest possible spectrum of events whether that be lunchtime ‘netwalking’ or rural rambles, nature-inspired art collections, scavenger hunts, craft activities or food events.  

You might like to explore: 

  • Heritage Walk: The Heritage of Ouse Valley and Floodplain Forest Nature ReserveMilton Keynes 
    Discover the heritage of Ouse Valley Park and the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve with a Parks Trust ranger.  Find out about the natural heritage and historical features in this area including the Scheduled Ancient Monument. 
    Wednesday 16 September at 6:00pm 
  • Hidden Nature of Hungate, Norwich  
    A detailed trail sheet will take you around the outside of the medieval church of St Peter Hungate spotting hidden features, whilst you enjoy the beautiful churchyard garden created by Norwich Historic Churches Trust volunteers. 
  • Industry and beauty on the Loxley – Hidden Nature and the Great Flood, Sheffield  
    A circular walk from Hillsborough Corner to the confluence of the Loxley and Rivelin rivers then along a stretch of the Loxley. We will look at remains of water power and industry, tell the story of the 1864 flood, and explore today’s hidden nature. 
    Tuesday 15 September at 5.30pm  
  • Pilgrim Trail cycle ride through Tattenhoe Valley Park, Milton Keynes 
    Explore the Tattenhoe Valley Park, rich in wildlife, and cycle the southern part of the Pilgrim Trail which takes us ‘off grid’ briefly, to the very edge of the modern town. 
    Sunday 20 September at 1:00pm 

    Focusing on nature and the outdoors offers an opportunity for individuals and communities to celebrate the stories of the places and spaces that are important to them while staying safe and adhering to current social distancing measures.  

    Annie Reilly said: “Over the last few months, as we have coped with various restrictions and limits on our lives, access to nature has become even more important to many of us and HODs will give us all something to look forward to.” 

    “The enthusiasm and ingenuity of our organisers always amazes us, and we’re excited to see how the theme of ‘Hidden Nature’ is being interpreted to create exciting events and activities.” 

    Heritage Open Days is coordinated and promoted nationally by the National Trust with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Every single Heritage Open Days event is free, including access to many sites that usually charge for admission.  

    Every year around 50,000 volunteers give their time and effort to help create the largest cultural grassroots festival in the country. Last year 5,700 events were organised which welcomed more than 2.4 million visitors.  

     For further information visit

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