City breaks

Enjoy a breath of fresh air with this list of the UK’s ‘greenest’ cities

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Lauren Geall
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New analysis from The Body Shop has highlighted the greenest towns, cities and urban areas in the UK for reconnecting with nature.

For many people, lockdown offered an opportunity to get outside and reconnect with nature. So, as restrictions ease, it’s no surprise that people are looking for more chances to get outside and make the most of the UK’s greenspaces this summer.

However, enjoying the natural world doesn’t have to mean a trip to the middle of nowhere. Across the country, there are plenty of urban areas with lots of greenspace and close proximity to natural spots – as new analysis from The Body Shop has shown.

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To discover the best urban spots for reconnecting with nature in the UK, the cosmetics brand analysed towns and cities based on five key factors – urban greenspace per person, air quality, noise pollution and the number of parks, forests and walking trails in their surrounding areas.

As you might expect, London was nowhere near the top of the list – in fact, it didn’t even make the top 20. Instead, the towns and cities of the south-west reigned supreme, with Plymouth coming in at number one followed by Torbay, Exeter and Bournemouth.

Although these cities didn’t have as much urban greenspace as other spots on the list, they made up for it with the sheer number of beautiful parks, forests and walking trails on their doorsteps, such as the famous South West Coast Path

Exeter, Devon
Exeter, Devon came in third.

Further down on the list, the north-east city of York came in at number five, with the Kent-based areas of Thanet and Medway taking up places six and seven. Swansea, Aberdeen and Lincoln placed in eighth, ninth and tenth respectively.

While it’s hardly surprising to see areas of the south-west named the greenest spots in the UK, it’s great to see spots such as York, Swansea and Aberdeen recognised, too. Indeed, out of the top 10, Swansea ranked highest for the amount of urban greenspace per person (520m²) while Aberdeen ranked highest for air quality.

So there you have it – if you don’t fancy taking a trip to the middle of nowhere this summer, there are still lots of ways for you to enjoy the natural world. Why not take a weekend trip to one of the cities on the list and see what you think? 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

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