Ecotherapy Activities at St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Ecotherapy Activities at St Nicks

Woodworking participant sawing on workbench
Making insect homes

In line with government COVID-19 guidance, Ecotherapy has returned to offering outdoor groups at the nature reserve. These groups are running alongside our programme of online Ecotherapy provision for those unable to attend St Nicks. Online support is open to anyone and offers bi-weekly nature-themed emails with creative and practical tips about connecting with nature, including videos, blogs and photographs. Please note, the face to face groups are currently full [Dec 20], but we are operating a waiting list. To join the waiting list for one of the on-site groups or to sign up for our online support, please complete an enrolment form and return to Ecotherapy Project Manager Kathy Sturgess at Ecotherapy will be closed for the Christmas break between December 18th and January 4th 2021.

Please check our main Ecotherapy page for further updates or stay up to date by signing up for our newsletter.

Ecotherapy promotes good mental and physical wellbeing through nature based activities. At St Nicks we offer a wide range of Ecotherapy groups listed below. New for July 2021 we are introducing Willow Weaving, Bushcraft and Grow you Home (make a window-box). All participants have access to one to one mentoring support. For full details about the benefits of Ecotherapy and how the groups work, click here.



Woodworking – Mondays 10am-12pm April to Sept at St Nicks

Sessions focus on developing woodworking skills through making items such as bird boxes, bat boxes, hedgehog homes and benches that can be used around the nature reserve. there will also be opportunities to develop finer carpentry and green woodworking skills, learning how to make stools, spoons or more decorative items according to participants interests. No previous experience is necessary; all tools and materials are provided.


Ecotherapy participants clearing ground for wildflower sowingBearing Fruit – Mondays 1pm-3pm, year round at St Nicks

Be a part of our community orchard at St Nicks Local Nature Reserve; managing existing wildlife habitats and creating new ones. Help us look after our established fruit trees, soft fruit sites and Yorkshire heritage apple trees. Learn conservation skills such as scything, pruning and hedge laying from our experienced tutors.



Orange Ladybird on handDiscover Nature  – Tuesdays 10am-12pm year round at St Nicks

Join a safe and nurturing environment in which you can learn more about the natural world. Sessions are seasonally themed. Each week focuses on a different species or habitat with the opportunity to participate in wildlife-based activities, animal surveys and field trips planned around the migration of birds and animals throughout the year. We also arrange talks from local experts. There’s always something new to discover.


Nordic Walking instructor and participant walkingNordic Walking – Tuesdays: 1-2pm ‘Learn to Nordic walk’, 2-3pm ‘Nordic Walks’ year round from St Nicks

Evidence confirms that connecting to nature with green exercise improves both self-esteem and mood, as well as builds emotional and physical resilience. All sessions are coached by qualified Nordic Walking UK (NWUK) instructor Michelle Cairns from Jorvik Walking. Classes are free and Nordic poles are provided. All new participants are asked to attend the 1-2pm ‘Learn to Nordic Walk’ sessions which run in 4 week blocks. Once completed walkers are welcome to join the 2-3pm group.



Creative Writing participants sat around a deskCreative Writing/ Nature Arts – Wednesdays 10am-12pm year round at St Nicks

This group is run in partnership with the Discovery Hub and Converge based at York St John University. This 10 week course alternates between nature based Creative Writing & Observational Drawing and Art. Both groups start with a short walk around the nature reserve followed by the introduction of a theme for the morning’s writing or art. The sessions are an exciting way to develop creativity while making new discoveries about nature through observation.


Willow Weaving tutor weaving a flowerWillow Weaving – Wednesdays 1-3pm July to Oct at St Nicks

Sessions focus on developing the willow weaving skills used in basket making. In true craft tradition skills will be practiced and repeated, building a relaxed confidence and ability. All learning will be through practical making with a garden theme including giant flowers, bird feeders and a simple basket towards the end of the course. No experience necessary, all tools and materials provided.



Eco book club participant holding a bookEco Book Club – Thursdays 10am-12pm year round at St Nicks

The club offers a friendly social session for those interested in books and literature with a link to the natural world. There is no pressure to read the book independently, the experienced tutor will pick passages for the group to enjoy as a shared reading experience each week. This will be followed by a guided walk around the reserve and discussion over a hot drink and biscuits. Each session ends with a poem or thought for the day.


Hands and plantGet Gardening – Thursdays 1:30pm-3pm April to Nov at St Nicks

This group is run in partnership with the Discovery Hub and Converge based at York St John University. People of all abilities are welcome. Learn how to garden creatively using a variety of means including the use of container planting and making the most of smaller spaces. Growing activities include natural pest control, feeding, plant care, re-potting, vegetable growing, herb gardening, and seed sowing and collecting.




Ecotherapy participants making raised bed at allotment sitePlot to Plate  – Fridays 2pm-4pm year round at the Holgate Allotment site

Help to manage our allotment and learn the principles of organic gardening as well as the benefits of eating seasonally. The site has raised beds, fruit trees, a variety of vegetables and a wildflower area that runs alongside a beck. This group is peer led.


Interested? Want to know more?
Please see this page for more details on how Ecotherapy works at St Nicks, watch the video below to see it in practice and/or contact Kathy Sturgess on 01904 411821 or email

This page was last updated 8 Dec 2020