A Fresh Start: The Perfect Playlist

The sound of wind blowing through the grass on sand dunes, the call of a cuckoo or waves crashing on a beach…there’s no doubt that part of the joy of being in the Great British outdoors is the sounds that come with it. When we spend time outdoors, the soothing sounds of nature help many of us to de-stress and be more mindful. So, in 2021, we’re encouraging everyone to make a fresh start outdoors, looking forward to a new season and finding hope and joy in the outdoors.

 

With the help of some of our in-store experts and award-winning wildlife expert Pete Smith, we’ve identified the sounds that instantly make your mind stop racing, that make you slowly exhale and immerse you in the outdoors – reminding you of everything that is great about being out there.

 

We want you to feel inspired to get outside and enjoy these sounds, along with many others, with some tips from our experts on where to go and what kit you will need. 

 

Of course, we want you enjoy to the outdoors safely and responsibly so please make sure you follow the latest government advice and rules wherever you are.

Waterfall in South Dartmoor

Nominated by Conor, a Cotswold Outdoor in-store expert from the Plymouth store, this sound transports him to a waterfall in South Dartmoor. The exact location is secret – it’s a hidden gem where Conor goes to escape: “The secluded spot is perfect for just sitting and immersing yourself in your surroundings, as well as camping and practising how to photograph running water”. Check out our Favourite UK Mountain and Hill Walking Locations to discover your new favourite spot to escape to.

Wind blowing through the grass on sand dunes

Nominated by Conor, a Cotswold Outdoor in-store expert from the Plymouth store, this sound transports him to a waterfall in South Dartmoor. The exact location is secret – it’s a hidden gem where Conor goes to escape: “The secluded spot is perfect for just sitting and immersing yourself in your surroundings, as well as camping and practising how to photograph running water”. Check out our Favourite UK Mountain and Hill Walking Locations to discover your new favourite spot to escape to.

Waves crashing on a beach

The beach is a perfect place to experience a nature overload on your senses, with the feel of the sand in your toes, the smell of the fresh sea air and the sound of the waves crashing. For Helen Glover the sound takes her back to childhood, “I grew up in Cornwall and spent my childhood playing on beaches, swimming, surfing, kayaking and going on costal walks with my family. The sound of waves crashing instantly transports me back to building sandcastles on a Cornish beach.” You’re never more than 70 miles from the coast in the UK, so a coastal walk is always the perfect weekend activity. Why not try one of the Top 5 Challenging Walks on the South West Coastal Path?

 

Shop for hiking here.

Red kites calling

According to the RSPB, these magnificent birds of prey can now once again be heard in central England, Scotland and Wales thanks to the world’s longest running protection programme. The Chilterns, Agarty and the Galloway Kite Trail are some of the best spots to find them. For some tips on wildlife spotting, as well as ideas for sensory walking, read our blog on Making Family Walking Fun For Everyone.

The rustling of the wind through pine trees

Thomas, In-store Expert at Cotswold Outdoor Newcastle, nominated the sound of pine trees rustling in the wind at Kielder Forest. There is something incredibly therapeutic about the being under a canopy of trees in a forest as the wind gently brushes through the leaves overhead. According to the Forestry Commission* there is 3.2 million hectares of woodland in the UK, so what’s stopping you from getting out there and exploring it?

The display calls of the curlew

Pete’s favourite sound, the iconic display call of a curlew is sadly a bit rarer nowadays. The beautiful birds which can be identified by its long, downcurved bill, can be found around the whole UK coastline. Take a look at our blog on the 8 Unmissable Coastal Walks from The Ramblers, you might be lucky enough to hear one for yourself.

The cuckoo calling

Another iconic bird sound, the cuckoo is instantly recognisable by its “cuck-oo” call. Another species that is in decline, they can be found throughout the UK during summer, having marked the arrival of spring with their call. 

Rain falling on a tent

The sound of rain falling on a tent when you are cosy, warm and dry inside in a sleeping bag can be incredibly comforting. Nominated by Pete Smith, an award-winning wildlife field recordist, this sound takes him back to fishing trips to Eigg in the Scottish Highlands. Camping is a great option for a weekend away (lockdown rules permitting) so take a look at our top tips for camping in the rain. 

Skylark song

Skylarks are found everywhere in the UK and especially like open countryside. You’re most likely to spot them when they’re in their distinctive display flight, which includes their beautiful song.

We’d love to know your favourite sound of the outdoors. Tag us on social media and use the hashtag #SoundOn

Pete Smith, Sound Recordist

Pete Smith is a field recordist and sound designer with a background in electroacoustic composition. His experience is primarily in documentary, but he also has a variety of drama and corporate credits.

Projects he has worked on range from award-winning feature length documentaries to animations and radio shows. Clients he has worked for include NHK Japan, Channel 4, BBC 1, BBC 3, BBC Alba, STV, STV Creative, RBS, First Direct, Apple, Visit Scotland, Wild Media Foundation and Hopscotch Films. 

He has a keen interest in wildlife sound recording and was awarded the ‘Silver Fox’ award by the Wildlife Sound Recording Society (WSRS) for one of his recordings.

“To me, sound is everything, so it has been interesting how people have tuned into the sounds of their surroundings more than ever throughout 2020.  It was the year that everything stopped and, as the traffic noise quietened during lockdown and our streets fell silent, the sounds of the outdoors became acutely more noticeable.

“I’ve always been more relaxed and mindful when surrounded by the calming sounds of nature.  Whether I’m camping out overnight during fishing trips to the Isle of Eigg and listening to the rain pelting the tent or walking along the sand dunes and hearing the wind whistling through the grass, sound is such an important and immersive part of spending time outdoors. 

“However, for me, the very best sounds of the outdoors are the display calls of the curlew in spring.  I grew up in a small village in South West Scotland surrounded by farmland, and curlews used to nest all around my house.  Often, on moonlit nights, they would fly and sing all through the night. Whenever I hear them now, I am instantly eight years old again out in the field in front of my house. Sadly, curlews are now declining in numbers so it’s important to get out and enjoy these wonderful sounds while we can.”

Sound On Kit List

 

We’re here to help you find the right kit for your adventures. Take a look at some of our recommendations below for getting out into nature this winter and immersing yourself in the sounds of the outdoors.

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