Covid-19 has caused untold disruption, and summer plans are no exception. With fights, hotels and package holidays cancelled, and travel bans in flux, it might feel like there's little to look forward to. But if you're one of many who won't be catching a plane this summer, fear not: there's plenty to explore closer to home.
2020 is set to see a revival of the 'staycation', a less expensive alternative to travelling abroad which comes without the risk of restricted overseas travel. Camping sites, B&Bs and hotels have started taking bookings from July 4th, and signs point towards restrictions loosening over the summer months.
Last Friday, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced he'd be 'championing the campaign for British tourism' and is ready to 'encourage British people to take British staycations'. The campaign seeks to boost the British domestic tourism industry, which has taken a hit over the last few months due to necessary safety restrictions, and to protect public health by reducing travel to foreign countries.
The chance to visit areas of great natural beauty across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales is much more than a consolation prize. To name a few, we have exceptional national parks, sprawling forests, and quirky seaside towns (the UK has a lot of coast, and with that comes plenty of beautiful beaches and B&Bs). As well as the chance to take in the beauty and character that run the length and breadth of the British Isles, a staycation could also offer some substantial health and wellbeing benefits.
During lockdown, the public's appreciation of green spaces has soared, with people spending more time in their gardens, public parks, or the Great British countryside than before. The Campaign to Protect Rural England has found that 71% of people would like their local green spaces to be supplemented with more plants and wildlife, and that they appreciate diverse natural environments more than ever. All the time spent indoors has reminded us how wonderful our local green spaces are, and made the public even more keen to explore new parts of Britain's natural environment. For city dwellers, a countryside getaway might be just the thing to dispel those lockdown blues.
Spending time in nature has been proven to boost our mental health, and it's also known to to lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cliffside coastal walks can certainly offer these advantages, but for those less keen to move en masse to the UK’s coastline (as unpredictable as it is lovely), consider less populated sites, such as the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, or the Berwyn Mountains in Wales. These come with the added benefits of copious forests and the chance to realign yourself with nature, instead of other tourists!
Over the last few months we've all become more conscious of our health, and many people are becoming interested in adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle. After spending so much time in lockdown, with reduced access to the health benefits of nature and a heavier reliance on technology, a holiday spent in the great outdoors might be the perfect way to combine a healthier lifestyle with a focus on being environmentally friendly.
There's much to grieve for this year, but this summer may also be an opportunity to explore the myriad of different environments close to home. From coastal areas to rolling hills; misty mountains to moorland trails, the UK has much to offer.
Shelve the city breaks and all-inclusives till next year, and embrace the chance to marvel at the natural wonders on your doorstep.