New podcast shines a light on the NW countryside through the experiences of the people who love it

A new podcast has been launched to lift the lid on the North West’s great outdoors and the sometimes profound impact our favourite spaces have on our lives.

Each themed episode of Acres of Nature takes an in-depth look at an area through the eyes of people who love it.

The first explores how green spaces can improve our mental health and joins birdwatcher Steve Scrimgeour and wastewater controller Scott Thompson at Davyhulme Millennium Nature Reserve in Manchester who both overcame dark chapters in their lives.

Speaking of his struggle to find his feet after a near fatal illness, dad of five Steve looks back at the days his wife would drop him off at the gates of the nature reserve: “It would put a smile on my face. I’d go home and forget that I was out of work, I’d been ill, I’d lost loads of weight, I wasn’t myself. But this place was a shining light. It [got] me out of that dark place where I didn’t want to leave the house. I wanted to come here.”

For Scott, who works at Davyhulme Wastewater Treatment Works, right next door to the park, mental health is also a deeply personal issue. Scott shares the harrowing story about the death of his dad, who he worked with. Scott is now a mental health first aider.

Speaking about his podcast story, he said: “Dad suffered a clot. It was like a light switching off inside him, here one minute .. not the next. Dad was such an active bloke that it is the only thing we drag consolation from as a family. As devastating as his passing was, dad fortunately did not know. Guilt is a very powerful emotion and sadly I carried the burden for years at considerable cost to me, hence why I am so pleased that our company has put so much into recognising and helping those who are suffering mentally. I find the people we work for and with are all instrumental in keeping us going.”

Of Davyhulme Millennium Nature Reserve, he said: “I like coming down here … because it’s so relaxing. You don’t hear the traffic from where we are. You can hear the birds. It’s a beautiful place to walk around.”

Close to the Sale Sharks and Salford Red Devils, the first episode also features an interview with rugby league superstar Robbie Hunter-Paul who shares his own experiences with mental health and talks about his new role as the mental fitness ambassador for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

Over the course of the next two years, Acres of Nature will feature some of the region’s best known landscapes as well as little-known hidden oases, and the stories of the people who use them.

Each landscape - from the remote beauty of Haweswater reservoir in Cumbria to a city park in Manchester – have one thing in common. They are all owned by water company United Utilities.

Jim Spencer from United Utilities, said: “We maintain and own some fantastic recreational sites including beautiful country parks and reservoirs, freely open to the public. Acres of Nature is all about bringing people closer to nature. Each episode will focus on a different theme. It might be history, nature, in the case of Davyhulme it was well-being.

“If you’ve never heard about the reserve it’s located next to the Manchester Ship canal, close to the Trafford Centre. It’s not only a site of biological importance, where you’re guaranteed to spot some wildlife, but it’s also home to walking routes and pockets of green space, perfect for a picnic,” he said.

Narrated by ITV weather presenter Kerrie Gosney, Acres of Nature is available on Spotify and all major podcast platforms or go to to listen now.