Nature and Wellbeing – The Best Outdoor Spaces in Oxfordshire

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To celebrate Love Parks Week 2022, we’ve decided to share some of our favourite parks and green spaces in Oxfordshire. With the help of Wellbeing Support Workers from our Oxford Team, we’ve put together a list of fantastic outdoor spaces for people to enjoy.

How does being outdoors affect mental health?

It’s no secret that getting outside and spending time in green spaces contributes to improved mental wellbeing. Studies have found that spending time in parks and gardens reduces the risk of mental health problems and increases life satisfaction. People that spend time outdoors also experience less anxiety and depression. Getting outside also helps to connect more with others. Experiencing a sense of belonging and community is an important way to combat social isolation and loneliness.

Individuals that participate in exercises such as nature walks also benefit from increased satisfaction. Endorphins released during exercise help to reduce anxiety, create a sense of happiness, and boost mood. No matter what the activity, enjoying the outdoors provides a range of benefits and helps to boost creativity, energy, and general wellbeing. 

What are the physical benefits of being outdoors?

The benefits of spending time outdoors aren’t only limited to mental health, there are numerous physical benefits too. Walking, being a low-impact exercise is a perfect activity to enjoy. Even just a 15-minute stroll can help strengthen bones and keep your heart strong. But that’s not all, walking contributes to a range of physical benefits such as:

  • Lowering blood sugar
  • Reducing pain
  • Keeping joints flexible
  • Strengthening muscles
  • Preventing osteoporosis
  • Keeping weight steady

Keeping up a regular walking schedule can help individuals remain as independent as possible. Older people that exercise regularly are also more likely to walk independently and perform tasks around the house with less assistance. 

Walking isn’t the only reason to get outside. Simply spending time outdoors has its physical benefits too. Being outside helps to increase vitamin D levels which can be lower in people over 65 or those who are not exposed to much sun. This helps improve muscle and bone health and reduces the risk for arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and heart attacks. 

Recommended Spaces

Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park

Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park is one of the largest parks in Oxford. It boasts a miniature railway, walking paths, a pond, a lake, and a small café. This park is a popular spot for picnics or for simply taking in some sun. Thanks to our Wellbeing Support Worker, Jolene, for suggesting this one! 

Opening Hours: Open 24/7

Address: Elsfield Way, Oxford OX2 8NP

 

Florence Park

Florence Park is a beautiful space with colourful flower beds and a tree avenue. If you’re seeking some privacy, this spacious park is perfect for walks and picnics. It is also a great place to admire nature and catch a glimpse of some local flora. 

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 8:30 PM

Address: 94 Cornwallis Road, Oxford, OX4 3NH

 

Christ Church Meadow

Christ Church Meadow is a popular open space located in the heart of Oxford City Centre. This space is a fantastic way to get away from the bustling city streets. Take time to admire the rowing teams along a river walk or the rare herd of longhorn cattle that graze on the meadow. 

Opening Hours: Open 24/7

Address: Oxford, OX1 4JF

 

Witney Lake and Meadows

Whitney Lake and Meadows is a large 37-hectare Country Park offering picturesque recreation areas and a lakeside footpath. This area is also home to a variety of flora and fauna with a nature reserve at the southern end of the lake. The lake is also a fantastic place for bird watching featuring Canada geese, cormorants, kingfishers, and more. Suggested by our fantastic Wellbeing Support Worker, Erika. 

Opening Hours: Open 24/7

Address: Witney, OX28 4YT

 

South Park

South Park is the largest park within the city limits of Oxford. This space is easy to get to, just a five-minute walk from Cowley Road. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a picnic and is a keen location for photographers due to its spectacular city views. 

Opening Hours: Open 24/7

Address: Witney, OX28 4YT

 

Oxford Botanic Garden

Oxford University Botanic Garden is one of the oldest in Great Britain. Home to almost 5000 different types of plants, this location is a must-see for plant lovers and a fantastic place to wind down and relax. 

Opening Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM

Address: Rose Lane, Oxford, OX1 4AZ

 

Shotover Country Park

Shotover Country Park is a large area of woodland and grassland at the edge of Oxford. This stunning spot has 137 hectares of hidden valleys and diverse landscapes. This is a fantastic place to take in history and enjoy nature.

Opening Hours: Open 24/7

Address:  Old Rd, Headington, OX3 8TA

 

Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary

Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary is a charity that houses and cares for abused animals and around 150 donkeys. This is a great place to get closer to animals and nature and features a gift shop and café. 

Opening Hours: 11 AM – 4 PM

Address:  Old, Didcot Rd, Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, Wallingford, OX10 0SW

 

Thriving in nature with BelleVie

We believe that it’s important for the people we care for to get outdoors as much as possible. Our amazing Wellbeing Support Workers do everything they can to make sure this happens, including visiting a few places on this list!

Sheila’s Story

Sheila took a visit to Shotover Country Park in Headington with the help of our amazing Wellbeing Support Worker, Lizzie. They spent an evening enjoying nature and taking in the sunset. Lizzie even brought her gentle giant, Indie, along for some much-needed animal therapy. 

Esther’s Story

Esther recently visited Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary with our Wellbeing Support Worker, Mark. They spent a fantastic afternoon outdoors and got up – close with some of the animals. 

Maggie’s Story

Maggie and Wellbeing Support Worker, Phoebe, recently visited their local botanic gardens to enjoy an afternoon in the sun and admire the stunning flora. The visit also got them both on their feet as they took a leisurely stroll around the site. 

 

Want to see more moments like this?

Come and take a look at what our Wellbeing Support Workers do on our Facebook page.