And breathe … a mindful walk on south Wales’ beautiful Gower Peninsula

AvatarPosted by

By combining walking with therapeutic exercises and socialising, one charity aims to restore mental wellbeing naturally

I’m standing on a grassy slope, looking over the three-mile-long curve of Rhossili Bay, on the south-western tip of the Gower peninsula in Wales. Alongside eight others, I’m taken through a breathing exercise. It is rhythmic: we take one big breath in, slowly exhale, then repeat. We’re told to focus on the present, just the things around us, and my gaze settles on the timber carcass of Helvetia, shipwrecked in 1887, which protrudes from the wet sand on the beach below. Next, we close our eyes, shifting our attention to only what we can hear. We’re asked to identify the different noises, and I find myself relaxing as I unpick them: there is the wind and, further away, the sea’s waves.

It’s mid-April and I’ve joined Mind Over Mountains, a charity using outdoor experiences to support people’s mental health. Set up in 2018 by friends Alex Staniforth, 26, and Chris Spray, 49, who met at a village fete in Cheshire, events range from “walk and talks” – which is what I’m on – to weekend residentials. These are hosted in places of natural beauty, with other locations including the Peak District, the Lake District and the Brecon Beacons. Routes are guided, graded from “easy” to “challenging” (today’s is “moderate”), with participants being shown mindfulness techniques, given the opportunity to share their stories, and offered support from trained counsellors.

Continue reading…Read MoreTravel | The Guardian