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Five wild programmes to inspire your next outdoor adventure

When you think about it, most of us spend the majority of our lives indoors. With office jobs, household chores and, let’s face it, the unreliable British weather, it can be hard to be outside as much as we’d like. Which is where Go Wild can help.

We’ve selected the best of Radio 4’s nature documentaries to transport you to the great outdoors, and hopefully inspire you to get out there when you have a chance. Journalist and broadcaster (and Go Wild presenter) Harriet Noble selects five of her favourites…

1. Ramblings – In Search of the Old Ways with Robert Macfarlane

Robert Macfarlane is one of my favourite nature writers – if you haven’t read his books exploring the myriad joys and eccentricities of the British countryside you really should.

Robert Macfarlane

But first, listen to this edition of Ramblings where he wanders with Clare Balding along the Icknield Way, an ancient path that passes near Robert’s home in Cambridge. He leads them on an adventure up beech trees, past “Cambridgshire’s Himalayas” (spoiler alert: they’re not particularly high), and down a walkway that’s been travelled for five thousand years.

2. The Food Programme – Outdoor Cooking

The Food Programme is one of my favourite things on Radio 4. I just love this weekly tribute to the glory of good food.

This edition is a particular treat, as the fabulous Sheila Dillon finds out the best tips and tricks to make a kitchen of the outside world. Put aside half an hour to listen to this, and you’ll be whipping up gourmet cuisine on a campfire in no time at all.

3. One to One – Isabel Hardman on Nature and Depression

Nature has an incredible power to heal. If I’m ever feeling a bit low or just need some space to think, a run or long walk in the countryside can be just the ticket. The journalist Isabel Hardman has experienced severe anxiety and depression, and found that being outside and studying the plants near her Cumbrian home became a great balm. In a conversation with the the psychiatrist Dr Alan Kellas, Isabel discovers exactly why nature can be such a vital part of self-care, and how to incorporate it into our daily lives even when we’re far from the nearest field or woodland. Listen to the episode here.

4. Cigarette on the Waveney

Roger Deakin may not be a household name, but to many he’s a legend. His book Waterlog essentially created the craze for wild swimming, and he was mourned by enthusiasts around the world after his untimely death in 2006. In Cigarette on the Waveney he’s on the water for once rather than swimming through it, taking his trusty canoe, “Cigarette”, on a journey down his local river. This beautifully-produced documentary will transport you to Roger’s side as he paddles down the Waveney, joining mayflies and weeping willows, and reciting poetry on his way. It’s a delightful, immersive voyage.

5. Soundstage – The Oak Woodland

Another aural trip to the great outdoors here, but this time the surroundings are leafy rather than aquatic. In this beautiful little documentary we spend a year with an oak tree, listening to the gentle shifts that accompany the changing of the seasons. Hear tawny owls cooing in flakes of snow, the spring song of the great spotted woodpeckers, bats emerging during a tranquil summer sunset, and badgers foraging food amid crisp autumn leaves.

Start your next adventure today