The beautiful Isle of Bute has the potential to be designated as Britain's first 'blue space' because of its healing properties, according to research presented to the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)'s Annual International Conference in Edinburgh today (Tuesday 3 July 2012).
Commenting, researcher Dr Ronan Foley of the Department of Geography, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, whose study the findings come from, said:
'There are thousands of acres of green spaces, but it's time we started thinking of blue spaces - defined by blue sea and sky and fresh air - which have a therapeutic effect
'Bute is a healing island. Thousands of visitors from the west coast of Scotland have gone ‘doon the watter' over the years for their health and well-being.'
Dr Foley points out that for more than 200 years Bute has been a setting for spas, sanatoriums, hydros, swimming pools and fresh air camps. Visitors flocked to Bute from the late 18th century onwards. Right up until the 1970s children from tenements were sent to the island for health reasons, to exchange the grey of the city for blue sea and skies.
The idea of healthy blue spaces, says Dr Foley, is an aspect of the recent enthusiasm for wild swimming, and initiatives like the Blue Gym, a social networking website supported by the Environment Agency, Natural England, and Department of Health to help people enjoy their water environment. He added that the renewed interest in the health and well-being aspects of water-based activities may also be very important in wider public health promotion.