It’s mental health awareness week, and the theme is nature. The past year has really highlighted the importance of nature for our wellbeing, and how vital it is that everyone has access to wild spaces. Below are three easy to find, peaceful places around the reserve at Lake Vyrnwy, where you can get a good dose of nature any time of year- have you experienced them all?

  • The giants of Vyrnwy:
    Follow the road alongside the lake, past the hotel turning and the iconic tower, and you will find a car park right by the road. From here, a short trail leads you winding through massive trees (some of the tallest in Wales!) to a magical little spot. Reaching up out of the ground is a giant’s hand, carved from what used to be the tallest tree in England and Wales after adverse weather damaged the tree years ago. This spot is most atmospheric just after it has rained, when the earthy scent of hydrated moss fills the air, big water droplets thud on the ground and bird song echoes from all directions over the steady sound of the river.

Photo of giant hand sculpture in woodland. Photo credit: Michael Harvey, 

  • The WOW view:
    The yellow trail starts and ends quite steeply, making the view at the top, and the paned (a good welsh cup of tea) afterwards, much more rewarding. Along the straight section of this trail you can peek over the hedge to admire the dam with the lake and hills stretching out behind it. Overhead you may be graced with the presence of a red kite, or even a goshawk! This sight is stunning all year round- in spring you’ll be accompanied by lambs, in winter you might see a dusting of snow in the hills beyond. Once you’re up there it’ll be hard to leave that view behind.

Photo of Lake Vyrnwy from a hillside, with the dam in the foreground and tower and hills beyond. Photo credit: Eleanor Bentall,

  • The ever-changing trail:
    From the parking area for the giants of Vyrnwy (also called the old village car park), the start of the purple trail can be found a little way up the road. This trail is normally quiet year-round, and takes you up away from the road, following the valley along a similar route, but with better views and no traffic. You can walk this trail any time of year, the weather and seasons making this walk feel completely different every time. In summer, butterflies sunbathe on the bare earth, visiting the wildflowers along the path edge. Crossbills can sometimes be spotted drinking from puddles, and if you’ve got binoculars handy, keep an eye out for peregrines at the far end of the walk. There is always something interesting to be found on this route, and it is a perfect place to put one foot in front of the other and get away from the hustle and bustle. 

Photo: Two people walking along a tree-lined trail. Photo credit: Eleanor Bentall,

To round off your walk, stop off at the RSPB welcome hub by the dam, where you can find out about more serene spots around the lake, learn more about the wildlife and heritage, and find out how you can help nature, too. 

Vyrnwy is a truly magical place, and is an important home for nature. Please remember to stick to the trails, keep dogs on leads and take any waste home with you on your visit, so these places can stay wild and beautiful. 

Share with us your favourite spot to get immersed in nature in the comments! Even if it’s not at Vyrnwy, perhaps there’s a green space near you waiting to be enjoyed.