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Health project Branching Out uses the great outdoors as a medicine

25th March 2016

Photograph of Health project Branching Out uses the great outdoors as a medicine

A green space on referrals project has been offered to patients in the far north to improve their health this winter.

A hardy group of NHS staff and eight patients visited Dunnet forest one day a week for ten weeks starting in January. The group took part in conservation tasks and learned both greenwood and outdoor cooking skills.

The ethos behind the Branching Out project is rooted in medical research showing that one of the most effective treatments of mental health problems is supported activity outdoors. Branching Out is delivered throughout Scotland, under the guidance of Forestry Commission in partnerships with various NHS trusts.

The Caithness project was led by Kirsty Rosie and Paul Castle, of The Highland Council Countryside Rangers. It was part funded by Forestry Commission Scotland and supported in kind by Highland Council, NHS Highland and Dunnet Forestry Trust.

The project came to an end this week, which was marked by an award ceremony and BBQ.

Ranger Kirsty Rosie said: The project was very successful, so much so that the group is eagerly seeking funding support to run it again.

Landward Councillor Matthew Reiss who visited the project said, Caithness has a a huge amount to offer for health with fresh air blowing in from the sea and great places to visit for out door activities of all kinds from walking on moors, forests,beaches. Everyone definitely feels better after heading outdoors for a stroll, walk or run and families have plenty of places to choose from and they are never crowded.

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