Our first Meadows Health and Wellbeing Route has been launched in Bangor, Wales with an inaugural walk for health staff, patients and community members.
Developed with our partner Plantlife, the new route is part of Magnificent Meadows Cymru, a programme designed to restore over 500 hectares of wildflower meadows and grassland in Wales while connecting communities to these environments for their health and wellbeing. Magnificent Meadows is funded by the Welsh Government.
Launched during Mental Health Awareness Week, on 14 May 2021, the Meadows Health and Wellbeing Route is a 1.7km walking route from Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital, Bangor, to the meadows at Eithinog Nature Reserve. During all seasons, a walk through the meadows provides an array of colours, smells and sounds. This is a great opportunity to use nature as part of the care of patients while also benefitting the health and wellbeing of health staff. We are using our experiences with our own Green Health Routes project to promote the new route to the wider community in Bangor.
Accessing green spaces has become especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic and is seen as a valuable recovery tool for communities as we come out of lockdown. Walking in nature, including in meadows, can improve mental health through reductions in stress, anxiety and depression, in addition to reducing the risk of illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. As humans, we are part of nature, and when we are back in nature we also feel calmer, happier and more focused.
The launch of the Meadows Health and Wellbeing Route received the support of hospital staff, including mental health specialists, occupational therapists, doctors, nurses, management staff and members of the Ysbyty Gwynedd Green Group. Local council leaders also attended the event and showed their support.
This inaugural walk was the first in a series of group walks from the hospital to the meadows. These will be led by the North Wales Wildlife Trust, the owners and managers of Eithinog Nature Reserve.
The route is being promoted with a leaflet containing wellbeing suggestions, biodiversity information and a map. This resource will help engage patients and support local residents to discover the benefits of spending time in the rich wildflower meadows on their doorstep.