Mindfulness breaks in the UK

We asked top blogger Lizzie Outside to join us on a mindfulness break and share with you her favourite places in the UK.

For Lizzie, mindfulness and adventure are a winning combination. And, with her “life’s too short” attitude, she believes in embracing the great outdoors when you need to get away from it all. Feel inspired by her jam-packed activity itinerary including kayaking, cycling paddle boarding and peaceful outside yoga sessions in Devon. She also shares her top 3 mindfulness breaks across the UK. 

Get away from it all with mindfulness breaks across the UK

By Lizzie Outside

I recently visited Bideford, north Devon, to explore the beautiful coastal towns and villages that sit alongside the infamous Tarka Trail.

I stayed at the Premier Inn in Bideford, and just a 2 mile drive from the starting point of the trail – and just a mile outside the town itself – as my base for the weekend.

On Saturday morning, after a hearty full English breakfast and a strong coffee to kick start my day I headed down to hire a bike, heading eastwards along the trail towards Instow and, eventually, Fremington. The route was dominated by beautiful coastal views lit up by bright blue sky, and after arriving to heavy downpours the night before I was delighted by the change in conditions.

Before setting off I had organised a late morning yoga session on Instow beach for Saturday to ease myself into the day. There’s something very magical about practising yoga outside, especially on a white sandy beach with just a few people peppered around in the distance. The sense of calm and stillness that yoga brings is heightened moreso by the surroundings.

Fully stretched out and feeling incredibly relaxed I jumped back on the bike headed further along the trail before hitting a quaint little beach shack where I stopped for lunch. The Glorious Oyster is no regular beach shack – it’s all local produce, cooked fresh to order and, even more to my delight there wasn’t a piece of plastic cutlery in sight. The coffee cups were compostable too, so I figured it would have been rude not to sit back in one of the deckchairs enjoying a caffeine hit whilst waiting for my order of a fresh seafood platter to arrive.

I people watched over lunch before getting back on to the trail for a final time. Returning to Bideford later that afternoon I gave my bike back and took a stroll around the town, familiarising myself with the area and enjoying views over the estuary before the rain decided to make another brief appearance.

You never can trust the British weather, but that’s always part of the adventure for me. And when in the west country there’s one thing everyone needs to do – locate a traditional tea house and sample homemade scones before posing the age-old question: cream first, or jam? And that’s exactly what I did (I’m cream first, if you’re wondering). Mad Henry’s Tea House has a glorious summer house that overlooks the estuary too, so cosying up in there as the rain clouds drifted away and blue skies reappeared was the perfect wind down to an active day. I waved goodbye to the donkeys and goats in the farmyard next door and headed back to the Premier Inn for an early night as I prepared for another day of adventures.

The next morning was an early start with some yoga in my room before breakfast. I then headed straight out to paddle board on Westward Ho! (the only place in Britain to have an exclamation mark in its name).

I started paddle boarding about three years ago as a way or restoring my fitness after illness. I didn’t realise at the time just how life changing it would be and found, very quickly the benefits to my mental wellbeing was equally as powerful. That’s the first time I really understood the value of mindfulness; I would get so absorbed in paddling that every other thought would disappear and my mind was clear. I’ve since taken every opportunity to paddle board around the UK and using it to explore the country – and my time in Bideford was no different. Except, there was one minor detail getting in the way – the weather conditions. The winds were fierce and the waves were crashing around the rocks and shoreline. This was great for the kite surfers who were out in droves, but far from ideal paddle boarding conditions. I admitted defeat and after a long walk along the beach I found a spot sheltered from the wind to pitch up and watch the kite surfers in action as the afternoon ticked by.

Despite spending the day doing very little, I felt strangely exhausted. It always surprises me how, when given the opportunity to really relax, you realise just how tired you are! I headed back for my final night at Premier Inn and nestled myself into a hot bubble bath before feasting on dinner and heading to bed. The perfect end to a perfect weekend break.

Top mindfulness breaks in the UK

Paddle boarding on Derwent Water, Lake District

Most people choose to enjoy the beauty of Derwent Water by walking the footpath that envelops its shores. I prefer to get within the throes of its beauty and charm on my paddle board, especially in Autumn when the colours are changing.

There are four islands located with the Water - Lord’s Island, Derwent Island, St Herbert’s Island, and Rampsholme Island, plus a handful of other smaller ones that you can paddle up to and explore. Lord’s Island has particular historical significance as, nestled in the undergrowth, lies the ruins of an old house that once belonged to the Earl of Derwent.

Camping on Bryher, Isles of Scilly

Bryher – located just 27 miles off the Cornish coast - is the smallest of the inhabited islands in the Isles of Scilly. It’s one and half miles long by half a mile wide and its remote location coupled with a remarkably varied coastline (including stunning white sandy beaches) makes it the perfect base for a wild camping adventure away from the hustle and bustle of city life.  As soon as you step off the boat you notice the pace grind to an almost immediate halt. Nothing is rushed or urgent and the sense of isolation and remoteness forces you to switch off and get re-connected with nature and yourself again.

Wild swimming in Lumb Hole Falls, Yorkshire

Just north of Hardcastle Cragg in Yorkshire, nestled close to Hebden Bridge, and a short 10-minute scramble from the roadside, lies a beautiful waterfall nested in amongst trees and shrubbery. It’s not the easiest place to find, but once you do it’s worth the effort. This particular spot is perfect for a hot summer’s day, come balmy summer’s evening. Take a picnic and some friends and get lost on the sights and sounds of nature that engulfs you. Whether you dip your feet in the rock pools, take a leisurely swim or plunge in from the treetops above, the first drop of water to touch your skin is cold – but refreshing and revitalising at the same time. And, if you’re feeling extra brave, it’s a great secluded spot for some skinny dipping!