Take the Plunge - Discover Water Wellness in Scotland this Summer.
As a family, we all love spending time near water. Whether it's at the beach, paddling in a river or a stroll around reservoir, we just find that it is great for our mental health as the calming sounds of the water help us to relax and clear our heads.
We already have a few favourite spots in the North East that we can head for when we feel the need, but this article from Visit Scotland has given us so many more ideas. We will definitely be trying some of them on our Scottish road trip, later this year.
It has sculpted Scotland’s world-famous landscape, sustained its stunning scenery and borne myths and legends like the Kelpies and Loch Ness Monster, and now the country’s pure waters are riding the wave of a growing wellness trend.
Water Wellness, also known as Blue Mind*, is linked to the positive influence water can have on our physical and mental health, that feeling of calm or peacefulness that is sparked when we are in or near water.
Thanks to its many lochs, rivers, canals and coastlines, Scotland is emerging as one of the hottest destinations in the UK to embrace the movement, with activities such as wild swimming and paddle-boarding quickly becoming lockdown hobbies.
New YouGov** research commissioned by VisitScotland, as part of the Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21, found that almost three quarters of UK adults (73%) think that being near water can reduce stress levels, while nearly two thirds (65%) believe it can reduce anxiety and depression.
Here’s how to embrace water wellness in Scotland this summer.
Take a dip
With miles of pristine coastline and thousands of tranquil lochs, it’s no wonder outdoor swimming is becoming a popular pastime in Scotland. Cold water therapy is a hot topic in the world of wellness thanks to its positive benefits on the mind, body and spirit but Scotland’s breath-taking beauty adds an extra special element to the experience.
Where to go:
Loch Morlich in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, home to Scotland’s highest beach and surrounded by Glenmore Forest; Shetland has over 2,700 km of coastline and wild swimming has grown massively in popularity over the past few years. The pristine waters give great visibility and interaction with wildlife such as otters and seals are a frequent occurrence. Head to the coasts of East Lothian and the Scottish Borders taking a dip in the bracing waters of Gullane, Seacliff Beach and Eyemouth beaches, respectively.
But before taking the plunge, we’d recommend familiarising yourself with water safety, booking an organised wild swimming experience with others, join an outdoor swimming group or gain advice and tips from the Wild Swimming Scotland community.
Paddle your cares away
Recognised as one of the fastest growing sports in the world, paddle-boarding is a great way to explore Scotland’s blue spaces, as well as keeping you active. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a complete novice there are plenty of excellent businesses ready to take you out on the water.
Where to go:
Galloway Activity Centre, Dumfries & Galloway, offers a range of SUP sessions on the gentle and relaxing waters of Loch Ken. Willowgate Activity Centre, Perthshire allows visitors to test their skills on a lagoon before venturing out on River Tay. Furry friends can even get in on the act with special sessions for dogs. Adventure Carrick, Ayrshire helps guests experience the waters of Southwest Scotland from an entirely new perspective. Pinkston Watersports lets visitors Stand Up Paddle-boarding close to the centre of Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow. In the ultimate quest for water wellness visit Yoga Adventure Scotland, near Dunkeld, Perthshire, offer SUP Yoga, traditional yoga poses performed on the water.
Hit the water
Regular exercise and staying active is the key to a healthy body and mind, fortunately Scotland is packed full of water-based adventures to help boost physical and mental wellbeing. From kayaking, diving and surfing, to canoeing, sailing and wakeboarding, there are so many ways to continue enjoying water wellness.
Where to go:
Hidden away on the secluded south shore of the famous loch, Portnellan Farm on Loch Lomond combines all the traits of a working farm with a host of exhilarating outdoor water sport activities sure to get those happy endorphins racing. North Coast Watersports provides cold water surfing experiences off the coast at Thurso. As well as beginners, group and private lessons, visitors can also book surf retreats which combine the hitting the water with a cultural and culinary tour of the area. Enjoy the peace of the water whilst also experiencing some of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks from an entirely new perspective, Port Edgar Watersports can be found in South Queensferry, outside Edinburgh, and offers windsurfing, paddlesport and sailing experiences on the Firth of Forth surrounded by the impressive sight of the Queensferry Crossing and Forth Bridge. Outdoor Explore provides personalised kayaking trips on the River Tay taking in views of V&A Dundee and RRS Discovery. Thrill seekers can try their hand at wakeboarding during a visit to Foxlake Adventures in Dunbar, East Lothian.
Walk this way
Scotland is famous for its stunning scenery and there is no better way to enjoy it than on foot. Slow down, relax and take time to enjoy the surroundings with a wonderful waterside walk by the coast, in the city or to find a quiet waterfall.
Escape the hustle bustle of city life, clear your mind and relax with a stroll by the water in one of Scotland’s stunning cities.
Where to go:
Experience the distinct character and rich history of Leith, the Edinburgh neighbourhood lies right next to the water and is home to delicious delis, top restaurants and must-see attractions such as the 5-star Royal Yacht Britannia. Meander paths which run next to the River Clyde and witness Glasgow’s evolution over time, from its proud shipbuilding past to the modern day sites of The SSE Hydro, the Glasgow Science Centre and the Riverside Museum. A walk along Dundee’s waterfront is not only great to unwind but a fantastic way to enjoy some city sightseeing, keep an eye out for views of the Tay Bridge, V&A Dundee, RRS Discovery and Broughty Ferry. Head north to Aberdeen, its beach runs along the eastern side of the city and at one end lies Donmouth Local Nature Reserve, where you can see seabirds and terns, before turning inland to visit Brig o’ Balgownie and Old Aberdeen. Spot seals and seabirds along the banks of River Ness, Inverness, amble along taking in the stunning surroundings as well as glimpses of the city’s history with views of Inverness War Memorial and Inverness Cathedral.
Take in that fresh sea air with a stroll on a coastal path, discover coastal community life, feel the sand underfoot and listen to the rhythmic lapping of the waves.
Where to go:
St Magnus Way on Orkney is a 58-mile pilgrimage route following the life and death of St Magnus, discover more about the history of Orkney’s patron saint while basking in stunning views of the islands. On Shetland, enjoy a walk around the small but breath-taking island of Papa Stour. Explore the Moray Coastal Trail from Buckie to Cullen which includes peaceful fishing villages and fine sandy beaches. Make sure to keep an eye out for dolphins which can often be seen playing in the waters on that stretch of walk. Fife’s beaches are popular with locals and visitors alike but the section of the Fife Coastal Path that takes in Elie offers picturesque villages, beautiful beaches and historic monuments.
Experience the enchanting beauty of a peaceful waterfall walk, enjoy the soothing sounds of the cascading falls and entrancing magic of their settings.
Where to go:
Wonderful waterfall walks to consider include Ramnahol Waterfall on Shetland, known in Norse as ‘pool of the ravens’, Eas A’ Chual Aluinn, Sutherland, Highlands, the UK’s highest waterfall, Loup of Fintry Falls in Stirlingshire, Falls of Clyde at New Lanark and Greenock Cut Inverclyde, a hidden gem nestled in Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park.
For more inspiration please visit: www.visitscotland.com/water-wellness
* Marine biologist, Wallace J Nichols, coined the term, and gave a TedTalk on the subject. “The term ‘blue mind’ describes the mildly meditative state we fall into when near, in, on, or underwater,”
**All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2103 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 20th May 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
· All visitors to Scotland must consult the Scottish Government website at www.gov.scot, VisitScotland’s website www.visitscotland.com, the local destination website and contact their accommodation providers, transport providers and any attractions they plan to visit to ensure they are aware of all rules, restrictions and safety procedures relating to Covid-19.
· We recommend that visitors look for the Good to Go logo. This is a new industry-wide standard and consumer mark developed to demonstrate that the business has completed a Covid-19 risk assessment to ensure they have everything in place to open safely.
· International visitors should check current quarantine and government-imposed travel restrictions.
· When visiting Scotland, we urge visitors to enjoy our fabulous country responsibly. VisitScotland encourages visitors to plan ahead with the help of www.visitscotland.com and by checking the Scottish Outdoor Access Code at www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot which offers practical advice for all when enjoying Scotland’s beautiful countryside.