Forty people recently came together to enjoy the Biosphere in the Bays creative Walk event at Culver Down and Yaverland Beach. Sixteen people took part in the Tuesday evening walk and a further 24 people took part in the Saturday afternoon walk.
Participants from the general public and Equals IW joined Mark and Sara for the two walks. They explored the landscape and seascape of Culver Down and Yaverland Beach experiencing the Biosphere of the Sandown Bay Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB).
They undertook a number of creative activities during the walks linked to the environment. There was an opportunity with Sara, a visual artist and illustrator, to capture the sights and colours through pencil art at the Earl of Yarborough Monument. Helping them to connect creatively to the natural environment while enjoying its sounds and aromas.
Stopping at the Yarborough Monument participants were given sketch books and pencils to draw what was around them. This activity helped them to closely look at the places around them while exercising their creativity. On Saturday some members of the group spotted places they didn’t even know were there namely Bembridge Windmill and parts of Sandown and Brading.
Sara offered guidance with composition by looking at the shapes rather than the actual objects. Members of the group produced fantastic drawings. Even those taking part who originally said that they could not draw in any way, shape or form.
On Tuesday the time was more limited as it was an evening walk finishing quite late. Sara wanted the participants to really look at the place they were in so after the walk they went down onto Yaverland Beach. They split into smaller individual groups to paint what they could see.
While on Yaverland Beach they had the opportunity to be creative by learning to make pigments from natural materials collected on the walk. These natural paints were created from the clay in the cliffs on Yaverland Beach mixed with seawater and safe wash poster paints.
Sara asked them to put energy into their paintings looking at the shapes and colour to help make their paintings interesting and vibrant. Everyone got involved creating paintings of the beach, the groin and the sea.
It was an opportunity to be creative and yet playful. Something as adults we rarely enjoy doing. This is so important for our imagination, emotional wellbeing and mental health, especially as many of us lead such busy and hectic lives.
On Saturday we had more time for a creative activity plus the sun was shining. Sara asked the group to have a go at sun printing also known as cyanotype printing. This activity had the participants looking at the vegetation and grasses around them on their walk. They collected and used these for printing back on the beach. This activity also needed everyone to think about the composition of the piece of artwork they were to produce.
Sara chose cyanotype printing as it is a fun activity with quite varied outcomes that can seem quite random. Plus it is environmentally friendly which meant we would again leave no toxins on the beach when finished. Water is required for the process so we used the natural resource of the sea. The outcome was beautiful and varied with each cyanotype print personalised by the individual.
Sara enjoyed the activity as the small squares of blue print were representing the bay, the walk and the participant’s personality. Everyone seemed interested in the printing process and were asking questions about how to develop this activity further. It tapped into their creativity and had them thinking further than just about the activity they were doing. It helped having more time and light to complete the creative activity on Saturday afternoon compared with Tuesday evening.
With Mark everyone took part in a one hour thirty minutes exhilarating clifftop walk up and over Culver Down. Taking in the sweeping views of Sandown and Shanklin Bays, the splendid views of the Bembridge coastline with panoramic sea views of the Solent and Spinnaker Tower Portsmouth. Mark described the heritage of the Yarborough Monument. Including that from the time of the Napoleonic War to the Second World War Bembridge Fort and Culver Downs were long used for military purposes.
They viewed the Coastguard Cottages that still remain and were able to watch buzzards, kestrels and peregrines in flight as they hunted along the cliffs. The chalk soils of Bembridge and Culver Downs provide an ideal habitat for blue butterflies. Chalkhill, Common, Small and Adonis Blues were seen on the Saturday walk flitting about among the grasses and flowers.
Parts of Bembridge and Culver Downs support a range of chalk grassland flowers. On the walk they could see Thyme, Bee Orchids and the eye-catching Bird’s Foot Trefoil that covers the down in a carpet of yellow at certain times of the year.
All forty participants rated the walk as either good or excellent with many enjoying the views of the Island and the Solent. On both walks they enjoyed having the views explained and felt the fun activities let them connect with the natural environments of both the countryside and the beach. Many of those taking part felt energised and well exercised, calm and relaxed.
Feedback captured how fun and enjoyable the activities were and how happy everyone was on each walk.
Many commented on the exceptional friendliness among the participants and how they felt a positive sense of connection with other people and the natural environment.
It was lovely to walk and be creative with like minded people and for some to be able to make new friends.
A sense of community spirit was apparent on both of the walks. Some felt motivated to do more exercise and although being tired and exhausted that they would love to do more activities like this.
Many would like to see the toilets at the Yaverland Car Park open later in the evening and felt the area should have a nice picnic area.
Participants wanted time to visit and read the noticeboards found in different locations on Bembridge and Culver Downs. They would also liked to have had more time to learn more about the local wildlife.
Some shared how they felt the overall activity could be developed further. It could be extended to include more time to relax. Have time for an ice-cream on the walk and perhaps include a visit to a pub or have time for a picnic together after the creative activities on the walk.
Many commented on the great leadership and organisation of the entire experience. They felt inspired and enjoyed being surrounded by good company, amazing weather and beautiful scenery.
We took pictures
Many thanks to Mark of MCEnhancement and Sara for helping make these walks so appreciated.
Biosphere in the Bays promotes the importance of green time through walks that enhance emotional wellbeing and mental health by the use of creative art activities.