Britons ‘vote with their feet’ for a summer of simple pleasures

Visitors paddling in the brook at Longshaw, Peak District
Published : 14 Jun 2021 Last update : 21 Jun 2021

To celebrate the arrival of summer, we conducted research to find out how the nation is planning to make the most of the season. The results showed that many of us are hoping for a ‘barefoot summer’ of simple, sensory pleasures – many of which you can experience at places we care for.

We worked with YouGov to run the survey, which found that more than two-thirds of UK adults are looking forward to celebrating summer with a walk in nature – with 46 per cent looking forward to going barefoot. Around half of us are also looking forward to listening to the sounds of the sea (52 per cent) and birdsong (50 per cent).

The research also found that people appear to have more of an appreciation of the simple and sensory pleasures in life since the start of the pandemic, with 60 per cent of UK adults agreeing that this was the case. The age group who felt they had the most appreciation were the 18-24 year olds, with 74 per cent reporting an increase.

A similar pattern was found among children under 18, with 51 per cent of parents and grandparents feeling that their children or grandchildren’s appreciation of the simple and sensory pleasures in life had increased since the first lockdown, largely due to having more time to spend outside in nature (21 per cent) and appreciating the simple pleasures more after being restricted to the indoors (19 per cent).

" Simple sensory pleasures such as smelling flowers, listening to birdsong and noticing butterflies and bees can help encourage feelings of wellbeing."
- Annie Reilly, Experiences Manager

Nature and wellbeing

This research adds to the growing number of studies which show the positive impact that spending time in nature can have on our health and wellbeing. 

In this survey, the top three benefits people felt from going barefoot outdoors were the sense of freedom (45 per cent), a feeling of being connected to nature (42 per cent) and a sense of wellbeing (35 per cent).

Annie Reilly, Experiences Manager at the National Trust said: “Going barefoot is one of those simple pleasures that forces you to stop to be more aware of your surroundings and is a really great way of connecting with nature.

“We know other simple sensory pleasures such as smelling flowers, listening to birdsong and noticing butterflies and bees can also help with nature connection and encourage feelings of wellbeing.”

Children running barefoot in the garden at Ham House and Garden, Surrey
Children running barefoot in the garden at Ham House and Garden, Surrey
Children running barefoot in the garden at Ham House and Garden, Surrey

Summer of fun

In order to help you experience the season’s simple pleasures while also reconnecting with loved ones, many of the places we care for will be offering safe spaces and activities for everyone to enjoy over the summer months.

In July and August, more than 100 places we care for will be offering a range of sensory and playful ‘Get set, go’ activities to appeal to the young and young at heart, thanks to funding from Sport England.

When you visit you’ll be able to get active through a series of 24 activities such as ‘Go barefoot’, ‘Make a splash’, ‘Work together’ and to hit the ‘Back of the net’ – to stretch those lockdown legs, explore outdoors together, and connect with nature.