Wellness and self-care are all about looking after your mental and physical health and ensuring you don’t struggle from burn out. Luckily Dundee is one of those cities which is just the right size – neither too big nor too small – and it’s easy to escape the madness.
Here’s some inspiration for activities sure to boost your wellbeing…
Stroke some alpacas
Alpacas are fantastic stress-busters. Simply by spending time around them, by stroking them and looking after them, you’ll find your worries disappear. At Balnuith Rare Breed Farm (also known as Balnuith Alpacas) in Tealing, a few miles north of Dundee, you’ll find alpacas galore to cuddle.
What could be more relaxing than spending a few hours meeting the fluffy creatures – or, if you prefer, taking them for a trek. Plus, their Craft Barn lets you get ‘hands on’ with some super soft fleece and traditional methods of processing.
Bathe in a forest
No, this doesn’t mean having an actual bath in a forest! Forest bathing, a concept developed in Japan in the 1980s, is a sort of mindful walking; an immersion in the forest atmosphere and connection with nature while relaxing your mind and body. Nature therapy, if you will.
Dedicated sessions have been running in the grounds of Glamis Castle throughout summer and hopefully others will be put on later in the year and into 2023. Participants enjoy a short talk about the trees and landscape in the sprawling estate’s majestic grounds and gardens before heading into the forest for some meditation and breathing exercises. You’ll pause to listen to the various sounds of nature – birds singing, water running and the rustling of leaves. And relax…
Dundee Botanic Garden
A visit to the University of Dundee’s Botanic Garden is a great opportunity to relax, recharge and immerse yourself in nature. While away the hours enjoying the huge variety of plants, trees, shrubs, glasshouses, water and herb gardens. Located in 9.5 hectares of south facing, gently sloping land near the banks of the Tay, the garden features many species of indigenous British plants as well as representative collections of plants from all the continents of the world.
Use all five senses
Lean how to ‘rewild’ yourself on a sensory walk with outdoor guide Malcolm Handoll. Based at Bamff Estate near Alyth (about a 40 minute drive from Dundee), Malcolm runs all sorts of courses including navigation, bushcraft, mindfulness and ‘human rewilding’. For some, this might conjure up images of tree-hugging hippies dancing naked in the rain and who knows what else, but there’s so much more to it than this. Malcolm’s ambition is to encourage people to use all five senses to explore the natural world and while it might sound simple, how many of us actually do this? How many of us notice the small wonders around us?
Open your mind – crouch down like a child and notice what’s growing on the forest floor! Try touching some leaves, a tree stump or a mushroom. Feel the different textures. Listen closely – what do you hear? What do you smell? You can do this on your own, in any forest, of course, but Malcolm’s guidance is invaluable and you’re sure to come away from the experience with heightened senses and a great big grin on your face. https://fivesensesrewilding.com
Swimming outdoors – in cold water – can work wonders for your health and happiness. From the dramatic pools near the famous Blue Door in Angus to Broughty Ferry beach, Dundee and Angus boast some of the most fantastic dook locations.
However, you should take serious precautions and stay safe if you’re going to try this. The best advice is to go with someone, always attach yourself to a tow float, take time entering the water to acclimatise and prevent cold water shock, and get out before you start feeling cold. And if you’re after a bit of sea swimming, always check the tides and be wary of rip currents. As autumn kicks in, make sure to take a flask with you and some dry, warm gear to change into – and maybe some cake! Or do a bit of research and find a nice cafe to hang out in afterwards.
Broughty Ferry beach is a huge expanse of beachy loveliness and is exceptionally clean. It’s generally quite flat and calm, although can be shallow, so you might have to wade out. Monikie Country Park’s reservoir outside Dundee is also a nice spot.
And it’s well worth taking a wee drive out to the Blue Door beyond Edzell. Here you’ll find an enchanting world of towering trees, craggy riverbanks and seductive pools.
Try swimming without a wetsuit for full effect – if you’re brave enough! It’s invigorating stuff! It’s all about enjoying a peaceful, almost meditative experience of being immersed in nature, and the perfect opportunity to leave your worries and stresses behind. Savour being in the moment, be mindful, and enjoy the peace.
Potty about pottery
It’s well known that pottery is a great stress-reliever – good for mental and emotional wellness. The art requires a mental reset – a shift of gear, a step away from stress and tension into a practice which teaches an almost contemplative communion between clay and the mind, heart and spirit of the maker. Check out Dundee Ceramics Workshop in Meadow Mill for a range of classes. Or give Ferry Potty, a paint-your-own pottery studio in Broughty Ferry, a bash. Here you can come and let your imagination take hold, as you create your very own painted masterpiece. Come by yourself, with pals, or with your kids and let your creative side run riot.
When it comes to scenic walking, Dundee and Angus has endless opportunities. Check out Monikie and Crombie country parks Angus, which boast brilliant woodland paths tracing reservoirs. Dundee Law makes for a great (steepish) city walk. You’ll enjoy breath-taking views across the Tay and the city, and if the weather is nice, have a picnic on the grass.
Also check out the paths around Clatto reservoir which extend into Baldragon Woods and Clatto Moor.
Meanwhile, the Sidlaws have long been a favourite stomping ground for Dundonians, with the masts on the summit of Craigowl being a prominent landmark for miles around. This hillwalk takes in the three main summits for superb views towards the city and Tay as well as across Strathmore to the Angus Glens.