One of Yorkshire’s most ancient natural wonders – How Stean Gorge – is urging people to head outdoors to boost their mental wellbeing on World Mental Health Day 10 October 2022.
The adventure facility has just installed six new eco-friendly luxury chalets with hot tubs and wood burning stoves as the visitor attraction has undergone a major face-lift, expanding its 20-pitch campsite.
The visitor attraction, carved out over thousands of years by waterflow, features an 80ft-deep chasm and underground cave network.
Recently, it has welcomed yoga and wild swimming to its outdoor activities, which include rock climbing, canoeing, abseiling, caving and gorge scrambling. It also boasts above the gorge the only Via Ferrata – a series of high wire and zip wires– in Yorkshire; one of just three in the UK.
How Stean Gorge has dubbed its offer as a “Natural Health Service”.
Tony Liddy, director of How Stean Gorge, said: “It’s proven that children and adults who spend more time in nature are healthier, happier and more resilient. It may be clichéd but it’s proven that nature does have healing qualities, it is our Natural Health Service.”
Studies show being in nature helps to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.
Tony said: “We’re becoming a bit of a hot spot for natural detoxing, offering a complete escape. Our upcoming Springtime Cleanse will include yoga, wild swimming and gorge walking, whilst our Flow Back to Nature Weekend Retreat offers yoga, Stand Up Paddleboarding and bushcraft. The perfect antidote to stressful hectic lives.”
Some experts are urging cold water outdoor swimming to be adopted as a public health measure, as it’s proven to help reduce inflammation, which is linked to health issues ranging from heart disease to depression.
Outdoor activities generally can advance motor skills, lower body mass index, improve muscle strength and generally boost overall health. Mentally, outdoor challenges can improve self-confidence, independence and self-esteem.
Tony said: “Taking on physical challenges has huge mental health benefits. Our team of trained adventure instructors encourage visitors of all ages and skill-levels to take the opportunity to push themselves, mentally and physically. It boosts confidence, helps you overcome fears, and is a fantastic stress-buster. Ultimately, it’s about having fun.”
Other proven benefits include better resilience, being present in the moment, and boosting creativity and problem solving.
The gorge has become one of the UK’s leading visitor attractions, with a team of outdoor adventure experts.
Tony added: “We’ve transformed the site with our ambitious expansion plans to cater to the huge demand for adventure tourism. We want to showcase nature’s stunning playground in this unique gorge that has existed for ten thousand years, since the last Ice Age.”
Graded as a triple Site of Special Scientific Interest, the gorge hosts amazing geological formations, features bats hanging from its caves and fossils frozen in its limestone.
Hundreds of trees have been planted around the new chalets, which offer the only group-scale accommodation in the tourism hotspot, sleeping up to 10 per chalet. Other upgrades include a 1000lt hot water system with underfloor heating in its shower block and new kitchen facilities. The team has also installed a new shower, toilet and bunks in its Bunk House at based at Scar House Reservoir, a unique wild accommodation offer that sleeps up to 17.
In 2017, it built a cantilevered extension with glass walls and glass floor panels that sits over the gorge in its café and bistro, offering a dining experience like no other.
How Stean Gorge has been attracting visitors for over 100 years. Up to 10,000 people book its outdoor activities each year, with 20,000 visitors attending the café and venue.