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Find wellness by the water to beat Covid blues

5 October 2020, The Covid pandemic has highlighted the importance of staying healthy in both mind and body and new research from industry body Discover Ferries, suggests that waterside breaks could help ease the pain of 2020.

Key findings show over three quarters (77%) of people agree they find spending time by the water relaxing and 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, 79% of people say the sound of the sea relaxes them and 66% agree the sea air makes them sleep better.

Over half (53%) of people aged 16-44 agree that the lack of holidays this year has negatively impacted their mental health. So, time by the coast, rivers or lakes could prove the perfect antidote to 2020 pandemic malaise. In light of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions, Brits have changed what they look for when booking future holidays. Over a quarter of people (26%) want to spend more time outdoors, exploring their destination by foot or bicycle, and a quarter (25%) want to make the most of every part of their holiday, enjoying the journey as much as the destination.

Abby Penlington, Director at Discover Ferries, says: “Holidays help us to reset and unwind, but with fewer opportunities to get away this year and the added strain of the pandemic, it’s unsurprising many of us are struggling with mental wellbeing. Taking to the water helps holidaymakers make the most of every precious moment, allowing them to relax, unwind and forget their worries. Ahead is the promise of the most beautiful waterside destinations in British and European waters. Easy check-in processes, relaxing onboard passenger lounges and refreshment areas all add to a chilled-out ambience from start to finish.”

With stunning sea or river views and the chance to spot local marine life close up, ferry travellers can experience the calming benefits that being by water offers from the outset of their journey. Large public decks naturally lend themselves to social distancing and give ferry passengers space to relax or stretch their legs, collect their thoughts and experience a more mindful method of travel. Holidaymakers travelling by vehicle also avoid packing stresses – without baggage restrictions and options for bike racks and campervans, sports gear and camping equipment are transported fuss-free.

Additionally, the research found that just under a third of respondents (32%) are looking for a beach holiday or coastal destination for their next escape. Furthermore, people are looking to continue the hobbies and activities they have taken up or tried in lockdown in their holiday and leisure time, with a third (32%) of Brits wanting to continue walking and more than a fifth (22%) wanting to continue cooking and/or baking.

Penlington adds, “To inspire holidaymakers looking to enhance their health and wellbeing we have compiled a guide to escapes by ferry that stimulate the mind, body and spirit.”

Discover Ferries’ Guide to Travelling Well

Active trips to strengthen the body

SUP Yoga on the Isle of Wight – Image credit @Visit Isle of Wight

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

Forest bathing on Jersey – Image credit @VisitJersey

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.

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

Seaweed foraging in Ireland – Image credit @Failte Ireland

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, or from Newhaven to Dieppe with DFDS. P&O Ferries and DFDS operate services to France from Dover.   

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 Ferries 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 flavour to soups, baked goods and infused 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


Media contacts:

Westgate Communications: [email protected] 01732 779 087

Discover Ferries: Abby Penlington, [email protected] 07763 806 459

Editors’ Notes

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.

Suppliers of activities referenced:

*The Buddhist Samye Ling and Centre on Holy Isle is closed until the end of 2020 due to COVID-19, however, in line with Scottish Government advice, visitors can still kayak, walk and enjoy nature on the island.

** 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.