Country Life Today: Enjoying great outdoors as nights draw in promotes year-round wellbeing

Today's round-up features plans for a new forest in Northumberland, the highs and lows of dating in the countryside, and the benefits of getting outside whatever the season.

Venturing outdoors in autumn and winter can boost mental health

Nature allows us to gain a different perspective on our lives. Credit: Getty Images/Robert Harding World

Colourful autumn days and crisp winter mornings can boost social, mental and physical health, according to experts.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists and Forestry England have championed getting outside, even when the nights draw in, to help combat winter blues.

‘Spending time outdoors in nature, including in woodlands and forests, can really improve mental health,’ said Dr Alan Kellas, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’s sustainability committee.

‘Our senses are engaged differently, our attention changes, we naturally become more mindful, our mood settles if aroused or anxious, or lifts if low or depressed, our imagination can be sparked and we can gain a different perspective on our lives, projects and problems.’

Full story (The Telegraph)

Humpback whale found dead in Thames was hit by ship

A juvenile female humpback whale, who died after swimming into the River Thames, was hit by a ship.

The whale was found the dead whale just after 5pm on Tuesday (8 October) in Greenhithe, Kent, but is not clear whether the wound was inflicted by the ship before or after her death.

Full story (The Guardian)

A great new forest for Northumberland

Northumberland’s Kielder Forest Park. The county is set to benefit from new areas of woodland. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

The government has announced plans for a new Great Northumberland Forest in a bid to tackle climate change.

Great Northumberland Forest will encompass three new areas of woodland, covering 500 hectares with up to a million new trees by 2024. The trees will be of mixed species to encourage biodiversity.

Full story (Country Life)

On this day…

Henry Cavendish (1731-1810). Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

On 10 October, 1731, Henry Cavendish, was born. The British physicist and chemist discovered hydrogen, which he termed ‘inflammable air’.

Love in the Countryside: Awkward farm dates and being dumped by a Shetland pony

Farmer David found the quest for love an emotional journey. Credit: BBC/Boundless

Far from the glitz and glamour of Love Island, or the shiny studios of Take Me Out, BBC Two’s Love in the Countryside focuses on those looking for romance in a rural setting.

The television series follows seven lonely hearts, including farmers, a vet and even an equine dentist, and follows them on their journey to find love. It’s pretty cringe-worthy watching, but the clumsy interactions make strangely compulsive viewing, as Rachael Turner reports…

Full story (Country Life)

Ancient woodland saved from HS2 — but only for the time being

Credit: Getty Images/EyeEm

The Woodland Trust has welcomed news of a deferral on HS2 work in ancient woodland until the government completes a review, but said that all work must be halted to avoid irreversible damage.

Abi Bunker, the charity’s director of conservation and external affairs, said the move was only made after pressure from the charity and other organisations and individuals.

Full story (Country Life)

Giant catfish caught in Devon

A record-breaking wels catfish has been caught in a lake in West Devon.

Chris Flook captured the 72lb 2oz (32.6kg) fish from the Specimen Carp Lake at Anglers Paradise in Beaworthy near Exeter.

The owner of Anglers Paradise, Zyg Gregorek told Plymouth Live he believes it is the biggest wels catfish born and bred in the UK.

‘[It] is one of the offspring of our original stocking in the early 90s following a long fight with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to get official permission to stock them,’ he said, adding that Mr Flook has been fishing at Angler’s Paradise for ‘donkey’s years’ and he was delighted with his monster catch.

Full story (Plymouth Live)

And finally… A rat invasion?

A pest control company has warned that up to 120 million rats could be making their way into UK homes this winter due to wet weather.

There is a 30-40% increase in the number of rat infestations in homes when the climate drops, according to Cleankill Pest Control.

They are advising homeowners to block gaps in walls, clear out stair cupboards and not leave food out.

Full story (Metro)