THE open spaces and tranquility of national parks have always been a “natural health service”, providing opportunities for stress relief, exercise and feel-good endorphins.

And, in these difficult times as the UK deals with Covid-19 and its impact on everyone’s daily lives, natural havens such as the South Downs National Park may be more important than ever before.

So says Kate Drake, who leads on health and well-being for the national park, and is offering her advice on how to get out safely in the park for those who are able and who are not self-isolating.

Many people are unable to leave their homes or make journeys, so Kate is also offering simple and stress-free ways that people can engage with the park remotely.

Kate said: “We know that the next few weeks are going to be difficult and challenging for lots of people. We know this is going to feel very far from “normal” and many people are feeling anxious.

“But we want to remind people that the national park is still here and offers a wealth of health and wellbeing benefits. Whether it’s a short stroll around a beautiful heathland, a woodland walk, or just listening to the morning chorus of birds in your own garden or watching online, we know connecting with nature can really help with stress and anxiety.

“As long as you are following the latest Government advice, the national park is here for everyone. With 3,300km of footpaths, byways and bridleways, there’s plenty of trails for people to walk and exercise safely, while also maintaining the recommended 2m of social distance and avoiding group gatherings. Spring is finally here and the days are getting longer and warmer, so this is a good time to connect with nature.

“We are guided entirely by the Government advice of the day and we would stress that we would never encourage people to put themselves or others at risk. Please make sure you are up-to-date on the latest Government guidance which is being updated frequently.”

And Kate adds: “Many people will not be able to leave their homes, so that is why we are really stepping up remote ways for people to connect with nature, including virtual walks of stunning beauty spots in the National Park, a 10th anniversary online quiz competition, as well as online resources for children such as our Learning Zone.

Kate’s five ideas for people unable to get out of their home:

• Join a virtual walk. The park is planning to feature beauty spots over the next few months and has begun with a walk around Midhurst Common. Find it on the National Park’s video section on Facebook;

• The park’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels are a treasure trove of South Downs flora, fauna and breathtaking landscapes;

• Be part of the South Downs National Park community. Join the conversation on its social media channels, share images of your favourite places in the National Park and join our newsletter for updates;

• For parents with children at home, check out the South Downs Learning Zone. Designed for educators, it is packed with downloadable resources on everything from wildlife to woodlands.

• Join its 10th anniversary online quiz competition. Launching this in April with the chance to win a hamper worth £150 using a range of local goods that are helping to support local businesses. Check out social media and newsletter for more.