Bolton NEWT have launched a monthly ‘Appreciation Walk’ with support from the Greater Manchester Environment Fund.
The group hosted their first walk at Moses Gate in Bolton on Sunday, January 29. It was led by Jasmine Renold who is a teacher and artist as well as a Bolton NEWT volunteer.
The aim of the walks is to encourage people to reconnect with the nature around them through the utilisation of their senses. The sessions include a thirty-minute walk in silence followed by guided meditation and a sit down with a cup of tea to discuss the experience.
“What I say at the beginning is to use all of your senses – see what you can see and smell and taste and feel your boots scrunching in the mud and leaves,” said Ms Renold.
“It was great actually – at the end of the session, people were describing all of the things that they saw that they would’ve never normally noticed. Somebody talked about the tiny purple flowers they saw in the moss and someone else saw a heron and a deer.”
Ms Renold believes meditation should be about focusing your thoughts rather than attempting to empty your mind.
“Your mind will always be busy. The key thing is – as a thought comes in – to catch it and just bring it to your attention, and to focus it to whatever is around you. So whether it’s the trees or the scrunching of the leaves or the smell of the wind,” she said.
“The walks are a nice kind of icebreaker really because you’ve all got something you’ve noticed that you can share and you don’t have to know each other or anything,” said Ms Renold.
The group used the Greater Manchester Environment Fund money to buy mats, seats, flasks, and umbrellas for the event.
They will also use the funding for bigger events throughout the year such as the Easter Egg Hunt they have planned for April.
Bolton NEWT also won The Queens Award for their voluntary services in 2022 and some of the team will be attending the King’s Garden Party later in the year.
“That was a real privilege to win that,” said Ms Renold.
“It will also help to attract more funding so it’s good for the local area because we can apply for different grants and are more likely to get them.”
To find out more about Bolton NEWT and to get involved with their upcoming events, visit their website: https://www.boltonnewt.com/.