How does a woodland sound, feel, smell and taste?
The Woodland Trust and Natural Inclusion are working together on a project to involve blind and partially-sighted people as tour guides in the historic Skipton Castle Woods.
Skipton Castle Woods, owned by Skipton Castle and managed by The Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest tree conservation charity, is a 36 acre semi-natural ancient woodland located in the heart of the town at the top of Skipton High Street. The woodland is a popular walking spot and haven for wildlife including kingfishers, herons, hedgehogs and bank voles.
The Visually Impaired Guides, or VI Guides, will take participants on a sensory journey, assisted by sighted helpers, and the project is seeking volunteers to take on the role of VI Guides. The Woodland Trust already has a number of volunteer guided walk leaders in the area, but this is something a little bit different.
Hazel Birdsall Visitor Experience Manager for Skipton Castle Woods explained “The participants on the tours will be fully immersed in the sensory delights of their surroundings, without relying on the ‘visual shortcuts’ that so many sighted people use in their daily lives. This will enable them to connect more deeply with their surroundings for a whole new experience. Our volunteer visually impaired guides will help participants to connect to nature using all the senses except one – sight”
Andy Shipley, of Natural Inclusion added “As someone with a visual impairment, I am interested in how greater use of our non-visual senses can affect the way that people experience the natural world. With this project, we aim to shift perceptions about the experience of visually impaired people, and demonstrate that there is much to be gained from exploring another perspective.”
If you, or someone you know would be interested in volunteering for this project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Hazel Birdsall Visitor Experience manager, Skipton Castle Woods