Often in midst of the cold and windy winter weekends we dream of cozy day/ nights by the open fire with a warm cup of tea (or wine) in hand, snuggled up to our loved ones.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with this idea, I can guarantee you that I know a way to increase the gratitude and relaxation enjoyment levels of this exponentially!
Exploring the trails in winter may not be your idea of a great time but I can guarantee you the health benefits and your sleep will challenge your steadfast disagreeance with me on this.
By stepping outdoors and accepting the rain, wind, and cold as the element’s that we as humans are biologically designed for, allows us to tap into the plethora of mental, physical, and spiritual benefits that nature provides.
Acceptance of the micro stressors, such as a winters hike, and given enough rest -recovery time (cue open fire and snuggles) allows our bodies, and importantly our minds to build strength and resilience. Much like that of weight training for our muscles, we are training our mindset to become stronger, more resilient to stress, and in turn, improve our wellbeing.
Hiking in winter not only builds our mental and physical aptitude, but it also stokes our fat burning furnace, builds our immunity, and improves our vitamin D absorption to sunlight allows us to synthesize Vitamin D essentially supporting positive mental health, regeneration of cells and absorption of vitamins that support a healthy immune system.
I love exploring the trails, the winter wind cool on my face, and the cathartic steps, one in front of another.
As a local Mornington Peninsula girl, I have lived my ethos through the trails I’ve traversed and the following are my favourite trails in winter.
1. Arthur’s Seat-Kings Falls
A scenic trail that with clear views on winter’s days offers views to Pt Nepean, the heads, across to Queenscliff, You Yang’s, and even the cityscape.
The trail follows the Two Bays Trail through different landscapes, shared with the local mob (a group of roos), and even has a free-flowing waterfall for added enjoyment.
2. Bushrangers Bay
The iconic Bushrangers Bay named after two escaped convicts and their devilish feat across the Tasman from Van Demons Land. Sunrise and sunset are definitely the best times to avoid the crowds or winter! The sea air will make that cozy fire and glass of wine (or tea) more enjoyable- guaranteed.
3. Merricks Red Hill Trail
The smells of fresh rain on the Pines that line this trail are amazing in winter. The misty rains that fall beneath the canopy above as horses, dogs, and fellow hikers pass along the farm and winery lined path, views across to the nobbies at Philip Island provide perspective as does the Fairy toad mushrooms that dot the path. Bonus is at either end there is an option for food, coffee, and or wine with local produce on display for purchase. You can’t miss stopping in at Johnny Ripe Red Hill for a well-deserved snack and hot drink!
4. Coolart Wetlands
A winter wonderland and plethora of birdlife provide a great place to anchor into a mindfulness practice. Visit one or all of the many bird hides that are spread throughout the property, visit the homestead, or for the more adventurous head into the thick bushland for a walk through tall gums, coastal shrub, and across to the picturesque Somers beach. If you’re lucky you might even spot the local dolphin’s in the water! A great place for kids too!
5. Coastal Walk
There are many short walks that can be taken along the coastal walks of the MP. From Cape Schanck to Sorrento the rugged coastline offers amazing photo opportunities, spectacular rock formations, and coastal shrub that in sections aids as rain cover from the winter conditions. The wind can be fierce when blowing southerly, inducing a deep slumber that night after arduous beach hiking. A guarantee sleep antidote sans the pills!
So whether you're new to hiking or experienced outdoor enthusiast, there is an adventure waiting for you in the winter wonderland.