Study reveals the favourite sounds of the Great British Outdoors
Research conducted by Cotswold Outdoor places the sound of crunchy leaves in the Chilterns’ woodlands in the number one position.
Cotswold Outdoor worked with wildlife field recordist and sound designer Pete Smith, who has worked with the BBC and Channel 4, and Helen Glover MBE, a member of the Great Britain Rowing Team and double-Olympic Gold medallist.
Rain on canvas in the Scottish Highlands, waves crashing on Gwithian Beach in Cornwall and the rustling of the wind through pine trees in Kielder Forest in Northumberland have all been included in a list of The Top 10 Sounds of the Great British Outdoors.
However, the crunching of autumn leaves underfoot in woodland in the Chilterns topped the list of the best sounds of the natural world. The wind blowing through the grass of the sand dunes at Tyninghame Beach near Edinburgh also features, along with the rush of falling water at a hidden-gem of a waterfall in South Dartmoor.
The best of British wildlife also made the list. The distinctive call of a cuckoo, heard through the spring months throughout the UK; the melodic song of a skylark, found all year round in decreasing numbers across UK countryside; and the increasingly rare cry of the curlew, seen across the coastline, were all quoted as being among the most iconic and much-loved sounds of the Great British outdoors.
Jose Finch, Managing Director at Outdoor and Cycle Concepts, parent company of Cotswold Outdoor, said: “In an uncertain world, you can count on one thing – the outdoors is right where you left it, and as the seasons change, we hope our Top 10 Sounds of the Great British Outdoors provides inspiration for everyone to get out and about in their local area.
"No matter where you are in the UK, you only have to step outside your door to hear nature and a whole host of soothing and restorative sounds, so why not go out into your neighbourhood and discover your favourite?”
Pete Smith spent two days in the field prior to the latest lockdown measures capturing examples of The Top 10 Sounds of the Great British Outdoors for Cotswold Outdoor, as well as sourcing sounds from his archive and other libraries. The sounds are all now available to listen to at www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/soundon, along with advice and inspiration on how to make the most of time spent in nature.
Pete added: “I’ve always been more relaxed and mindful when surrounded by the calming sounds of nature. Whether I’m camping out overnight during fishing trips to the Isle of Eigg and listening to the rain pelting the tent or walking along the sand dunes and hearing the wind whistling through the grass, sound is such an important and immersive part of spending time outdoors.”
Helen Glover MBE said: “I love being outdoors and I’m fortunate to spend a lot of time in the natural environment, either for solo training sessions or when I’m enjoying local adventures with my family. I find that there’s always that moment when I stop and focus on the sounds of my surroundings – it helps to clear my mind and I instantly feel more relaxed.
“As well as grounding me in the moment, I find sounds can be so evocative too. When I think back to past adventures, it’s the crackle of the campfire, the lapping of kayak paddles on a lake and the mew-like call of red kites in the trees that bring back such warm memories and make me yearn to get outdoors.”
Top 10 Sounds of the Great British Outdoors
- Leaves crunching underfoot in woodland in the Chilterns
- Waterfall in South Dartmoor
- The rustling of the wind through pine trees in Kielder Forest
- Rain on a tent in the Scottish Highlands
- Red kites calling
- Waves crashing on Gwithian Beach in Cornwall
- The display calls of the curlew
- Wind blowing through the grass at sand dunes on Tyninghame Beach
- The cuckoo calling
- Skylark song
Why not listen out for some of these the next time you're out and about in your caravan or camping out?