Kate Drake is Health and Wellbeing Officer for the South Downs National Park. She’s been in the role for four years and is hoping to finish to her training in eco-psychology in 2024. Kate’s hobbies include sea swimming and she loves a good hot sauna. She’s passionate about nature connection, discovering wild and awe-inspiring places in nature, and looking after this wonderful planet we call home.
My favourite time of the day to visit Wiggonholt Heath is early in the morning. I can see the mist slowly rising, occasionally a few people walking their dogs and the soundscape is extraordinary: full of the abundance of birdsong. What a perfect way to start my day. Approaching the site, I go to the highest point with spectacular views across the heathland with the South Downs spanning across in the distance. I breathe in, smell the scents of pine, oak, silver birch and the aromas of a new day – pure bliss.
I walk slowly along the path feeling the softness of the sand underfoot towards black pond. I always stop to spot dragonflies and damselflies flying across the eerily black water and tune into the enchanting sounds of field crickets. As I enter black wood, I adjust to the sounds and darkness of the woodland. If I am quiet, I might spot a herd of deer. I love to stand under my special oak tree and tune into my senses and just notice my connection with this place.
How lucky am I that I can share my love and connection with Wiggonholt Heath with people experiencing loneliness and isolation, mental and physical health issues by delivering mindful walks, engagement, and nature connection sessions. Having such a close relationship with this site helps brings awe and wonder of the natural world not only to myself, but the people I work with.
Hearing feedback of ‘I never knew there was so much for my senses to tune into. I feel so relaxed and calm now’ makes me realise what a therapeutic place Wiggonholt Heath is.