Our movements have been heavily restricted. We have been told that we cannot visit loved ones, head to the cinema, go for a meal.
As restrictions are now being eased, what better time is there to talk about how we can become more conscious/better travellers and how we can begin to safely reengage with travel?
Here at the North York Moors National Park Authority, we fully recognise that there are those who have struggled to access the countryside since the lockdown began but now that restrictions have been eased slightly we are advising that when people visit, they should either avoid busy hotspots or to continue to exercise in open spaces near to their own homes.
Going forward, it is important to recognise some of the reasons why we travel to the North York Moors, why we should treat it and its residents with respect and why we should continue to seek out quieter spots or exercise locally.
We have a vague sense that interacting with nature can have a positive impact on our mental health. There have been plenty of studies that say being in nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress, but what is the reason?
One answer offered by the School of Life declares that travel itself can be a form of therapy. That we travel to locations to acquire or be reminded of certain ‘inner’ qualities. For example, the moorland, particularly during the winter months, is a landscape that feels exposed, wild and empty. However, the presence of birds such as Merlin or Golden Plover remind us that in spite of strong winds, rain or extreme heat, creatures and plants can survive.
In our own lives, this can remind us of our own need to remain resilient. For there are times we too feel exposed to the pressures of work or home life and in such moments maybe is it worth remembering how we once stood out upon the moorland, our face pressed against the wind.
Such thinking can also be applied to visiting our forests. When it is persistently hot, as it is now, we cannot help but want to seek shelter and shade. In such moments we can be naturally drawn to woodlands. Such spaces can allow us to reflect on our own lives, something we might otherwise struggle to do whilst at home surrounded by our families. They can offer the necessary space we need to grow, change, or make a vital decision.
The important point to take away is that as restrictions continue to be eased, we should think more carefully about why we travel and respect the places we travel to and the residents who live there. A more thoughtful approach to travel also makes us more sensitive towards others by avoiding busy hotspots and maintaining social distancing.To learn more about travel guidance, visit: northyorkmoors.org.uk/coronavirus