Here’s a short test. As you read this, stop and contemplate the plans for your day – what you’ve done so far, what you’ve yet to do and what you need to do but probably won’t have time to do. Does anything in your day involve ‘taking time out?’ And by that, I don’t mean a punishing circuits class at the gym or collapsing in front of the television at the end of the day. We seem to be working harder and for longer whether that be because of a personal work ethic, demands of our employer or job role, proving oneself or just trying to make a sustainable income.
It might seem intuitive that taking time out and spending it outside is good for us but fewer of us seem to have the time to do it. In our busy modern lives, often spent in front of screens, we seem to be forgetting about the power of spending time in nature – that nature acts as a natural mood booster. That, regardless of whether we choose reading a book in a local park, a windswept beach walk or a weekend in a national park, spending time outside boosts our well-being, our satisfaction with life and therefore our productivity, work engagement and creativity.
But, taking time out doesn’t have to involve great distances or big logistics or ticking off a demanding physical challenge.
One of my favourite places in the world for taking a little time out is the prehistoric White Stone Circle next to Little Hound Tor on Dartmoor National Park. This tor, on Dartmoor’s wild north plateau, offers glorious views over southern England’s highest and wildest ground in addition to the gentler farming landscapes of Devon. This is an ancient landscape – not just the tors of granite that comprise some of the oldest known rocks on Earth, or the wind scoured and eroded vistas but also the Bronze Age settlements, cairns and stone rows that surround the stone row.
Why I love this location is not only does it offer solitude but it reminds me that taking time out doesn’t have to be about achieving. It can also just mean sitting still and looking at the view. No great thoughts. Just the simplicity of a picnic lunch and the sounds of your surroundings. It makes the day feel fuller, easier and slower.
I’ll write the initial paragraph again. As you read this, stop and contemplate the plans for your day – what you’ve done so far, what you’ve yet to do and what you need to do but probably won’t have time to do. Does anything in your day involve ‘taking time out?’ Make sure it does. It’s refreshing and rewarding and the effect is real.
To do this particular walk you will need good navigation skills. Make sure to bring a map and compass as well as suitable clothing as weather can change quickly and drastically on Dartmoor. Also be prepared for some tough (ish) uphill sections and rough uneven moorland including wet, boggy ground.
However, if you’re unsure, get in touch for a list of options for local guides in the area. Or, if you’re not keen or able to walk, Dartmoor offers spectacular ‘taking time out’ options closer to car parks. Again, just get in touch for ideas.