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STRUGGLING WITH THE SNIFFLES? THE PUBLIC PARKS TO ENJOY (AND AVOID THIS SUMMER)

STRUGGLING WITH THE SNIFFLES? THE PUBLIC PARKS TO ENJOY (AND AVOID THIS SUMMER)

3 minute read time

In the summer we all want to go for walks, runs and have picnics in the parks with our friends, surrounded by the green space in all its glory.

But with high pollen levels across the country, hay fever sufferers can find going for walks in green spaces less appealing – with worries that you’ll have a sneezing fit, your eyes will start pouring or your face might even begin to swell.

If you’re experiencing allergy-like symptoms such as sneezing, itching and swelling, it’s important to first take a food allergy test to understand what might be causing these symptoms. Pollen food syndrome can also cause people to experience symptoms of an allergy when eating certain kinds of raw fruit or vegetables, which usually occurs in people with hay fever.

To help people manage their hay fever symptoms as best as possible, YorkTest has conducted research into the best and worst parks in the UK for hay fever sufferers. With more people working from home over the last two years, hay fever sufferers who struggle day to day may even consider relocating to an area with a lower pollen count to help them manage their symptoms better.

We have analysed the grass pollen count in the areas surrounding the 100 largest public parks in the country, to provide an idea for Brits on the areas that could trigger a hay fever attack – and where may be best for avoiding the itchy throat and watery eyes.

The 10 best parks for low pollen counts

It’s good news for Scottish walkers. Eight out of ten of the parks analysed with the lowest pollen count over a five-day average are based in Scotland, including Airds Park in Argyll and Bute which had a grass pollen average of just 1.8 grains per cubic metre. This is compared to the highest park’s average of 149.4 grains per cubic metre in Dorset.

Similarly, Gleniffer Braes in Renfrewshire, Mugdick Country Park in Stirling and Loirston Country Park in Aberdeen all featured in the top 10 with a low pollen count on average. 

RankParkAreaAverage grass pollen count [grains/m³] 5-day average
1Airds ParkArgyll and Bute1.8
2Fritton lakeGreat Yarmouth, Suffolk11
3Gleniffer Braes Country ParkElderslie, Renfrewshire11.6
4Lamington Park (Alfie Burn)Highland, Ross and Cromarty11.8
5Mugdock Country ParkStrathblane, Stirling and Falkirk13.4
=5Dams To Darnley Country ParkGlasgow, Renfrewshire13.4
7John Muir Country ParkEast Lothian14.6
8Culzean Country ParkSouth Ayrshire, Ayrshire and Arran15.8
9Croxteth Hall and Country ParkLiverpool, Merseyside19.2
10Loirston Country ParkCity of Aberdeen22.6

The 20 worst parks for hay fever sufferers

Based on our research, residents of Dorset, Northamptonshire, Worcestershire and Leicestershire are likely to be among the worst hit by high pollen counts when out and about in green spaces.

Moors Valley Country Park in Dorset has the highest grass pollen count over a five-day average period with 148.4 grains of grass pollen per metre cubed, suggesting that walkers in the Ashley Heath area especially might struggle.

Stanwick Lakes, the nature preserve in Stanwick, Northamptonshire, has the second largest pollen count in the area, followed by Dodington Park in Gloucestershire.

Rutland Water also has a high pollen count, with grass pollen counts expected to reach 251 grains per cubic metre on one day.

RankParkAreaAverage grass pollen count [grains/m] 5-day average
1Moors Valley Country ParkAshley Heath, Dorset149.4
2Stanwick Lakes Country ParkStanwick, Northamptonshire127.6
3Dodington ParkBristol, Gloucestershire126.6
4Rutland WaterWhitwell, Rutland122.2
5Coombe Country ParkRugby, Warwickshire120.4
6Spye ParkBromham, Wiltshire118.2
7Lulworth ParkEast Lulworth, Dorset115
8Kingsbury Water ParkWarwickshire99.2
9Petworth ParkChichester, West Sussex99.2
10Marston Vale Millennium Country ParkMarston Moretaine, Bedfordshire98.8
11Staunton Country ParkHavant, Hampshire97.4
12Sherwood Forest Country ParkNewark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire95.8
13Lickey HillsBromsgrove, Worcestershire94
=13Arrow Valley ParkRedditch, Worcestershire94
15Paices Wood Country ParklandAldermaston, Berkshire92.2
16Bradgate ParkCharnwood, Leicestershire90.4
17Ferry Meadows Country ParkPeterborough, Cambridgeshire89.4
18Sutton ParkWyre Forest, West Midlands88.8
19Queen Elizabeth Country ParkEast Hampshire, Hampshire86
20Shipley Country ParkAmber Valley,, Derbyshire85.6

Sal Hanvey, expert nutritionist at YorkTest commented on the research:

“Hay fever affects one in four people in the UK according to the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, which equals around 16 million people. Early in the summer, grass pollen can be especially high, triggering allergies and affecting your day-to-day life as you go for walks, exercise outdoors and socialise with your friends.

“This research has been conducted to highlight the areas where people may want to take extra precautions in the next few weeks if they know that they’re often prone to pollen reactions. It’s also worth noting for anyone who is constantly struggling with pollen allergies in the early summer months – incase they’re considering relocation.

“I’d always recommend consulting your doctor before taking any new medication, and exploring whether other remedies also help to manage and alleviate your hay fever symptoms. This can include taking more frequent showers, regularly changing your clothes when the pollen count is high, and even your diet. Some foods and drinks are rich in histamines which cause the puffy eyes and runny nose, such as alcohol, yoghurt and even avocados. You may wish to research more anti-histamine foods and incorporate these into the diet in peak hay fever season, as this may well lessen the severity of your symptoms in a natural way.” 

Notes to editors

Methodology

Using the Ordnance Survey’s list of the 100 biggest parks in England, Scotland and Wales, YorkTest analysed the expected grass pollen levels in each geographic area over the course of a five-day period using https://pollencount.app/. It then came up with an average of the five-day period to create this index.

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