The Urban Ranger

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.

Taking On Mental Health With Nature & Ecotherapy

The Urban Ranger website was founded in 2016 to help promote mountain and ecotherapy for people with wellbeing issues.  Not least to help mental health which most of us are subject to from time-to-time. The website also promotes the prevention of potential wellbeing issues, given it is easier to prevent than it is to recover. This website promotes an open-door, spam-free environment and you will not be tracked by cookies or asked to sign up for updates or newsletters. All resources on the website are free of charge in the hope of making the world a better place by sharing lived experience, and mountain adventures that promote a healthy fulfilling, and meaningful life.

The website and our participants are growing every year with new walks, and there is something for all abilities. Unfortunately, there are no disabled routes on the site at present, but I am looking for somebody to help in this area. If you would like to get involved please email me. It is now becoming widely accepted and more evident that nature plays a very big role in improving our mental health; it allows us to step out of our own headspace and has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and rumination. Although nature alone is not a cure, it is a free and easy way to regain equilibrium and build on resilience for challenging. Nature is indeed the universal life force that can ground us.

It is accepted universally that we need to spend a minimum of two hours immersed in nature before we begin to feel nature’s therapeutic benefits. All walks on this website have activity durations ranging from two hours to a full day. The walks are cherrypicked from idyllic locations that I feel will be beneficial to anybody. Walk routes that do not resonate with our group are eliminated from the list. I am constantly searching for aesthetically pleasing, stimulating, awe-inspiring scenery that will help people keep occupied and feel a sense of good wellbeing. The website does not feature park walks given it is my belief we need to be disconnected completely from noise pollution and distractions. The walks are aimed to disconnect you from everyday life and connect you to nature. Ecotherapy is about returning to the natural world where we once survived for millennia before the modern world disconnected us from equanimity.

“I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here are some science-based links supporting our approach:

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/7/eaax0903

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/nature-health-and-wild-wellbeing

Other benefits of being involved with our walks are that your general fitness and mood will be elevated. Serotonin levels will increase. Blood becomes oxygenated. Muscles and organs will be nourished. PT Science has shown that walking burns as many calories as running, yet walking will not impose high impact stress on your joints, nor will walking dehydrate your skin. From increased fitness and well-being, we become a stronger and yet more resilient human being…..and with a sense of well-being and connection to nature. When the cycle is repeated we then start to eliminate toxins, which may well be compounding our mental-health symptoms. As the cycle repeats, we begin to fire-an-wire new neuro-pathways which, when good intentions and self-belief are present, change the way we see the world. Some would use this for self-actualization.

I do not have a degree in creative writing but I do have a degree in “lived experience” and I am still experiencing and healing on a daily basis. I do not claim to have all the answers of how we reach recovery or prevent illness, but I do know how to teach resilience whilst being totally empathetic and understanding of the struggles of mental ill-health.

I am currently on my own journey that is now of three years, although I have my struggles. I work with the NHS at a recovery college and have gained formal qualifications in this area. Maintaining inspiration is very important for people with wellbeing issues, especially people who are recently diagnosed with a condition of depression, anxiety, etc. The message I try to convey is that there is hope and although at times it is hard to believe that, recovery is very possible. It takes hard work; belief and it means starting to look after ‘number one’ which is difficult for some people.

Getting out into nature and finding meaning again is what drives us up out of the spiral of mental ill-health. Being able to focus and find a way back to the things we used to enjoy, sometimes as hard as it may seem it’s possible. Nature is one of the best medicines to start that process, and hopefully I can encourage you to take that first step. I have been in hospital, thought I was going insane, scared to leave the house as well as being unable to dress or feed myself. There is no badge of honor only one of despair and fear to remind us, but it does get better and although the road is bumpy and full of twists and turns, there are people out there in this world who still care.

The journey of a thousand miles starts with just one step! What better step to take than one into the serenity of the mountains or the idyllic dales and reservoir country our beautiful island has to offer? Although I recommend being able to map read and navigate yourself in unfamiliar terrain, I record the routes I have walked using the Viewranger App which is free to download for both android and IOS. You can buy map tiles in the app for just the route you are walking. You can now get 10% discount for an annual subscription of £24.99. Use the code “urbanranger2020” at the checkout. You can download the routes direct from my website and use them in your own navigation software or you can print a PDF of the route out.

The app and the downloadable routes will navigate you safely, but please make sure you always have battery packs and especially in winter. I cannot be held responsible for safety-related issues on the walks on the website and there is a hazard warning for all routes. I advise anybody to check out the AdventureSmart website to get a better understanding of what you will need for a day out walking

My Story

Working in a recovery college as a trained peer in mental health, alcohol and drugs misuse as well as a certified MHFA (Mental Health First Aider).  With lived and living experience.

My passion is treating people with respect and helping them find their own recovery outside of the clinical setting where possible and helping break stigmas.

My Mission

To encourage people to embrace the great outdoors as part of a recovery plan, and educate people on the benefits of nature and ecotherapy in mountainous  areas.

The Urban Ranger hashtag of #ModernMENtality was created in 2019 to help break stigmas of mental health and especially in men.