In a region so blessed with beautiful outdoor space, the key to helping oneself feeling on top through this difficult period could lie right on our doorsteps in Cumbria.

Nature can provide "soul food" for people in lockdown, even in winter, the head of the RSPB has said.

Beccy Speight, chief executive of the wildlife charity, said people have found that reconnecting with nature is good for their physical and mental health in the face of the pandemic.

As the UK starts 2021 with further lockdowns, she said the natural world is already looking towards spring.

And she encouraged people to connect with nature on their doorstep by taking part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch at the end of the month.

The nationwide survey, which volunteers carry out in their garden or local green space, helps scientists understand the fluctuations in fortunes of many of the UK's most common birds, and the wider natural world.

And it can act as a doorway to getting more involved in nature, which has seen a surge of interest in the pandemic, she said.

Ms Speight said: "I think nature is soul food, it's a way of connecting with something that is other than us, that is ploughing on regardless.

"In January, everything is looking towards spring, we've turned the corner in terms of the darkest day, so the whole of the natural world is starting to wake up to the fact there is more light and hopefully fairly soon more warmth."

And she said: "People have found it really beneficial to reconnect with the nature on their doorstep for their physical and mental health."