A SENSORY walk has been launched at Charlton Lakes as part of Mental Health Awareness Week and National Walking month.

Sensory walks allow you to use your senses to connect with your surroundings whilst you stay active. The walks are designed for people with complex disabilities but can be enjoyed by anyone. You can go alone or in a group, you don’t need any specialist equipment and the walks can be any length you like.

This collaborative project between Test Valley Borough Council, Isle of Wight Council and Hampshire County Council is part of a suite of sensory walks being created across Hampshire. All the walks are accessible to everyone, are around one mile long, and usually over flat ground.

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The Charlton Lakes sensory walk sets off from the Lakeside Car Park and is mapped out on Strava. At the beginning there will be a sign - with letters for individuals to feel - made by the local Men's Shed group.

The walk then leads users through eight different sensory moments, including encouraging participants to listen to the birds, the river and the wind through the trees and to look at, smell and feel the things around them.

It also incorporates a new herb garden, planted to enhance the trail with smells like lavender, thyme, mint and curry, following a donation made by Dobbies garden centre.

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Cllr Terese Swain, portfolio holder for community, leisure and tourism, said: “Taking part in the sensory activities along this walk will be extremely beneficial for anyone with neurodivergence and visual impairments. Children also enjoy the walk and we’re launching it during mental health week to highlight how it can also help anyone with mental health issues.

“The sensory walk can also be enjoyed by anyone who is looking to reconnect with their senses and their natural surroundings – it’s great to get your outdoors and focused in the moment which is good for your mental health.”

The walk can be downloaded alongside others across the county at hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/countryside/visit/routes-and-trails/sensory-walks and it’s also listed alongside walks across the UK at sense.org.uk/our-services/arts-sports-for-disabled-people/sensory-walks/find-a-sensory-walk-near-you.