Those long days spent roaming the landscape are edging ever closer to becoming reality. As the new season dawns, we talked to current British women's surfing champ Lucy and her partner in crime, extreme sports enthusiast Alex to hear how they recharge by spending time in nature, leaning on local knowledge and the future of responsible surf travel.
Freedom In Exploration
What does it mean to you to be free to explore the landscape?
Exploration at home or further afield can provide a similar release of those travel-y endorphins for me. The sense of wonder, as you see what this incredible planet has to offer, never ceases to amaze me. I feel an immense connection to nature. I think my deepest dives into nature come from planning slightly longer trips, then spending a good month or two away living out of a backpack in search of that ever-elusive empty peak with just you and a mate out. Dreamy.
Just getting outside; whether it’s stunning cliff tops, windy beach strolls or a stomp around a local park. Switching my phone to airplane mode (I’ll still take it with me if I’m heading out alone) and switching off from my to do list. I feel we miss so much of the beauty around us when we are anxious or stressed. We miss wonderful interactions with people around us, that feeling of appreciation for the little things and the intricacies of landscapes and surroundings. I think that taking away the distractions and making an effort to really take in what’s around us is the best way to feel free and to reap the benefits.
What are the benefits you get from spending time in green and blue spaces?
For me it’s the vastness and beauty of your surroundings, that seem to make your worries or problems seem a little less significant. Nature seems to have an amazing way of putting things into perspective. It’s also the connections you build with the people you meet while you’re out and about, I’ve met basically all of my long-term friends and partners through my sports.
The biggest benefit in my opinion is the instant mental health clarity I find in nature. I’ve actually made it a priority to spend time outside in nature, and as soon as I did I found my head to be a lot clearer. That doesn’t necessarily mean going to South America and walking around for a month all by yourself! I’m talking about just working in the garden or making sure you have that cold dip in the ocean in the morning or at the end of the day. I made it as necessary as brushing my teeth. And I can definitely tell if I’m not keeping up my routine!
What does the future of surf travel look like to you?
It’s understandably hard to weigh up as the more we see of the world and the wonderful people in it, the more we want to protect it, and we’re all becoming more aware of the effects that flying has. I feel super fortunate to travel for training and competition. I make the most of doing it now as I know that this part of my job will only be for a few years. Having said that, there are ways that I (and we all) can minimise our impact. I try to stay in one place for a few months, rather than taking more flights and, where possible, put in the hours of driving rather than flying, using companies that help with offsetting carbon through tree planting and other means.
I won’t lie, my impact through flying is what plays heaviest on my heart, so if anyone has any advice on this, I’m all ears!
My job dictates near enough all my travel, and I fly more than most people I know, but it is my whole career so I try to do it in the 'greenest' way I can. I try to offset my carbon use when possible and always try to skip the layover.
On top of that I’ve made a promise to myself that I will one day use the funds I make off my travels to buy a small patch of land somewhere and devote it to a wilding process, making it untouched forever. One day I'll settle down more, and I hope that technology has moved on enough that you could build yourself a surf wagon in the back of an electric van, charge that beauty up on renewable energy and hit the road in silent bliss.
What is the best or most memorable experience that you’ve had whilst spending time in nature?
Truly the best experience I think I’ve had to date was a two-month expedition I did with a friend of mine to the South American frontier, Patagonia. We found empty left points as far as the eye can see, every colour on the autumnal palette spread out in front of you, and the most insane weather changes I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience! “The land of unspoiled beauty at the end of the world”. My socks have been removed by many a breath-taking scene, but Patagonia was on another level of beauty and scale.
There are so many incredible waves and vast landscapes that spring to mind, however I think for me it will always be interactions with animals in the wild that make for the most heart-warming and mind-blowing experiences. Last autumn I was out for a paddle off of my local beach and a huge pod of dolphins came and played all around me. After 5 minutes, they were gone. Such an incredible moment to see at home and I still can’t believe I happened to be in exactly the right place at the right time!