How beautiful the Earth is still
Jessica Holifield observes the Brontë esque Devonian countryside as a lockdown paradise found.
I’ve always loved walking, but being in and out of lockdown for almost a year has made me appreciate it even more. Having been raised in a small town a ten minute walk from mountains and farmland, something I have particularly enjoyed about living in Exeter is the fact that I always have access to green spaces.
Even if you occupy a flat in the City Centre, a park is usually not too far away, such as Belmont Park or Bury Meadow Park. Cutting through the Cathedral Green is a good way to have a break from the pavement slabs while appreciating the imposing Gothicity of the Cathedral. Southernhay and Northernhay Gardens are also picturesque pockets of nature, tucked away from the real hustle and bustle of town. I like that the City Centre is broken up by these splashes of greenery, and it is pleasant to see some squirrels amongst the seagulls.
However, what I like most about Exeter is the option to go on longer walks, breathe some fresh air, and completely remove myself from the movement of the City. Arguably, one of the most popular walks to go on is along the Quay. Being by the water can be very calming, and what I like about the Quay is that you can make it a quick circuit by cutting back over a bridge if you don’t have much time to spare between studying, or, you can go as far as Double Locks. It’s relaxing to be by water, and see the swans gliding along the river; I’m eagerly anticipating the cygnet season this spring. It must also be noted that the Quay is a beautiful location to catch the sunset.
life is not meant to be lived completely indoors
I think we should be careful not to underestimate the benefits that being out in nature can have for our mental health. Of course, the exercise itself can release endorphins, but I think there is something to be said for walking in nature, as opposed to a brief walk around the block. During lockdown, we have become accustomed to being stuck between the same four walls, doing the same mundane activities in the confines of our homes. However, nature offers us a space away from the daily continuum of chores and stresses. It provides us with some variety: a welcomed interlude in our current calamities.
There’s a reason why our Romantic poets turned to the sublime in the face of their troubles. A change of scenery is vital to our wellbeing: life is not meant to be lived completely indoors. Now more than ever it is important to strive for a work-life balance. As our seminars and lectures take place in the same space that we eat and sleep, it’s good to explore new areas.
Something that I loved when I first arrived at university was getting to know the city and see where little avenues would lead, and now, as I am halfway through my Masters, I am continuing to explore and realise that there are still so many walks to be discovered right on my doorstep. With that being said, I would encourage everybody to take advantage of what’s around them and discover what Exeter has to offer.