A FORTH VALLEY walking charity is encouraging people in the Wee County to ease anxieties and boost mental and physical wellbeing by connecting with nature.

Paths for All, Scotland's national walking charity, has launched a six-week Walking with Nature campaign to help people enjoy and appreciate the natural environment on their daily walks.

A UK-wide ONS survey recently found that measures of happiness and life satisfaction are at their lowest levels since the start of the pandemic in March and anxiety scores are at their highest since April 2020, indicating that there are real struggles with mental health right now.

Ian Findlay CBE, chief officer at Paths for All, said: "We're all being urged to stay close to home for walks right now.

"Luckily, Clackmannanshire has some lovely options, whether you're looking for a short stroll or more challenging terrain.

"Clackmannanshire's motto is 'look aboot ye' and I'd encourage everyone to get out in nature and do just that."

Paths for All's top five walks in the Wee County are Gartmorn Dam, Dollar Glen, Tillicoultry Glen, Alva Glen and Ben Cleuch via Tillicoultry Glen.

Ian continued: "All too often when people go out walking they are still attached to their phone and forget to take in the surroundings that we are graced with in Scotland.

"We hope this campaign will help people unwind and begin to enjoy the small and simple things in life, like spotting a wild animal, hearing a new noise or just generally feeling relaxed when out in the fresh air."

The aim to get more people walking with nature comes after a report published by NatureScot found an increased proportion of the population reported health and wellbeing benefits from time spent outdoors connecting with nature during lockdown.

Furthermore, 70 per cent indicated their outdoor visits and engagement with nature between August-September helped them to de-stress, relax and unwind, which is up from 63 per cent in March to May.

Caroline Fyfe, NatureScot's strategic paths and funding officer, said "Our research has found that more people are visiting the outdoors and engaging with nature so it's great to see the Walking with Nature campaign encouraging people to build on that connection.

"The simple and fun activities are things we can all do, wherever we live.

"Tuning into nature while out walking and giving a few minutes of time to improve the local walking environment can make a huge difference, not only to personal mental and physical health but also to local communities.

Visit pathsforall.org.uk for more information.