The Covid pandemic has highlighted the importance of staying healthy in both mind and body. With research* revealing the relaxing effect that being near, or on, water has on mental health and the desire to continue healthy habits, we have put together our guide to rejuvenating trips by ferry which will strengthen the body, mind and senses.
Active trips to strengthen the body
To build core strength and flexibility while calming your mind, visitors to the Isle of Wight can attend sessions that combines traditional Asana yoga with stand-up paddle boarding (SUP). Travel from Portsmouth or Lymington with Wightlink, from Southampton with Red Funnel or via Hovertravel from Southsea.
Operating with extra capacity for bicycles, Uber Boat by Thames Clippers enables city dwellers and visitors to take in the sights of London from the river, before continuing their commute or exploration of the city’s parks, piers and pathways on two wheels.
The picturesque sandy beaches of the Scilly Isles are perfect for water sports including open water swimming and kayaking – on a sunny day you’ll find it hard to believe you are in Britain. To embrace your adventurous spirit and take social distancing to the extreme, charter a boat to reach an uninhabited island for a solitary stroll. Isles of Scilly Travel offers services on The Scillonian departing from Penzance to St Mary’s Harbour.
For those who have taken up walking during lockdown and are looking to continue this during their holidays and leisure time – the Isle of Man’s Raad ny Foillan Coastal Path provides the perfect challenge. Covering nearly 100 miles, ambitious walkers can complete the route in four days or for a gentler pace, opt to walk the course in 10 days. Walkers are rewarded with spectacular views, fantastic picnicking spots and superb eateries to suit all budgets. Travel with Isle of Man Steam Packet Company from Heysham to Douglas year-round or seasonally from Liverpool, Dublin and Belfast. Note that the Isle of Man’s borders are currently closed to non-residents, but they look forward to welcoming visitors again soon.
Holidays to reset the mind
Retreat to the aptly named Holy Isle a remote Buddhist island, just off the Isle of Arran, Scotland, for Tai Chi, yoga and meditation. With relaxing activities that focus the mind in tranquil, beautiful surroundings, it’s easy to see why visitors return to Re-Vitalise Retreats. Travel to Arran with CalMac ferries, which offers routes from Ardrossan or from Kintyre, departing from Clanoig in the summer and Tarbert in the winter months. For those of you who stilll need convincing about the wellbeing benefits of being on the West Coast of Scotland, just listen to Katrina Mather of The Body Toolkit Retreat talking to CalMac about the West Coast islands and highlands as an antidote to stress:
The Netherlands** has a culture of indoor wellness centres that offer the ultimate in hot and cold pools, steam rooms and saunas to relax the mind and reinvigorate the body. Travel to Holland with DFDS via its Newcastle to Amsterdam route, with P&O Ferries departing from Hull to Rotterdam, and with Stena Line’s services between Harwich and the Hook of Holland.
To really get back to nature, practise the Japanese art of forest bathing at St Brelade in Jersey. Proven to reduce stress and improve concentration, visitors are encouraged to take in the beauty and fresh air of the forest with all five senses, under the guidance of local herbalists, they can even forage ingredients for a relaxing tea. Condor Ferries operate links to Jersey from Poole.
Nourishing breaks that will heighten your senses
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, so what better place to visit than France’s** apple region. Apple desserts, apple juice, cider and the infamous apple brandy from Calvados, there are plenty of sampling opportunities across the region. From May to December, visitors can even participate in harvesting the fruit. Sail to Normandy from Portsmouth or Poole with Brittany Ferries, from Newhaven to Dieppe with DFDS or from Dover to Calais with DFDS or P&O Ferries.
Fishing offers anglers contemplation as well as the prospect of catching supper. Northern Ireland has some of the best natural conditions for fishing, with rich fishing grounds in the Atlantic and Irish Sea and pure freshwater lakes and streams. Catch and cook tours are available for novices. Travel to Northern Ireland with P&O from Cairnryan to Larne, or sail to Belfast with Stena Line from Liverpool and Cairnryan. The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company also offers a seasonal Douglas-Belfast service.
The Irish coastline is also home to a variety of edible plant life making it a haven for foragers. Alongside mushrooms, herbs, mosses and wild blackberries, there are more than 600 types of nutrient-packed seaweed. Foragers can sustainably harvest by cutting the tips – never the root – with a sharp knife, the result adds flavours into soups, baked goods and even infuse oils. The food trail in Waterford is a great introduction to Ireland’s native plant life and local producers. Travel to Ireland from the UK with Irish Ferries via its Pembroke-Rosslare and Holyhead-Dublin routes, with P&O Ferries departing from Liverpool to Dublin, and with Stena Line on its Holyhead-Dublin and Fishguard-Rosslare services.
For further information on how the ferry industry is responding to COVID-19, please visit: www.discoverferries.com/ferrysafe
* Research for Discover Ferries was carried out online by Censuswide on 3rd to 7th September 2020 amongst a panel resulting in 2,001 responses from general consumers in the UK.All the research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines.
Key findings show three quarters (76%) of people find it relaxing to be on or beside the water, two thirds (66%) of the public feel like they have been on holiday when they have spent time by the water or by the sea. Furthermore, 80% of people say the sound of the sea relaxes them and 65% agree the sea air makes them sleep better.
**The UK government currently advises against all but essential travel to France and The Netherlands. Please monitor the FCO advise to check when it’s safe to travel.