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Visit Scotland | Alba

As part of the Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21, we took a closer look at some of the businesses and organisations who made the most of the water wellness trend.

Nicola Wardhaugh and Morgan O’Neill set up Moffat SUP Hire. They shared their experience of turning a passion for Scotland’s waters into a thriving new business.

Tell us about your business and how it aligns to the Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21

Morgan O’Neill and Nicola Wardhaugh launched Moffat SUP Hire with a view to attracting visitors and locals get outside and be more active on our local lochs, enjoy the stunning surrounding countryside, get closer to nature and have a bit of fun with friends and family. We recognise that our beautiful lochs play such an important role in visitor experiences in Scotland and want to encourage more people to enjoy the water in a safe and responsible way.

We offer board hire and taster sessions. We provide an opportunity for visitors to hire inflatable stand up paddleboards for the day to take in the beautiful sights. All necessary equipment and buoyancy aids are provided. We have a very simple online booking process and our customers collect the equipment from Moffat and receive a demonstration. Customers are then free to take the board to a loch of their choice and return in the evening. We are always happy to advise on the where to go and what might best suit their experience.

Our taster sessions consist of small groups of beginners who want to learn how to paddleboard safely on our local lochs or people have bought their own paddleboards but want to build their confidence and understand how to use the equipment. We both trained with the British Canoeing Association as Inland Open Water SUP Leaders.

A new addition - we have just launched our first SUP Social event, a non-instructed meet-up for paddlers who are confident to manage themselves on their boards and are able to self-rescue. The focus of this event is friendship on the water. The event is free of charge to attend if you bring your own board (hires available for a small charge).

We have been working with our local accommodation providers to provide flyers and a special offer of a two-day board hire discount to inspire visitors to explore the surrounding area, extend their stay and experience water wellness.

Nicola Wardhaugh and Morgan O’Neill of Moffat SUP Hire at Loch of the Lowes (credit: Abbie Barnes)

How does water wellness relate to your business and your customers?

Water Wellness is at the heart of what we do. As two busy working mothers of primary aged kids, we’re big supporters of mental health awareness and we’ve experienced the mental and physical health benefits of being on the water first-hand. During the challenges of the last year and lockdown periods, we found ourselves spending more time on the waters of our local lochs near Moffat wild swimming and paddleboarding.

We wanted to share the benefits of Water Wellness with others and, prior to launching Moffat SUP Hire, we established a community wild swimming group to promote those health benefits we experienced ourselves to others and to provide a way of bringing people together socially in the community after a difficult period.

This was the catalyst for us launching Moffat SUP Hire. Our core values and key messages focus on the mental as well as physical health benefits of spending time on or in the lochs but always with a strong safety message too.

We have also recently been accepted as facilitators of Mental Health Swims which aligns well with our core values and we can’t wait to extend our support to the wild swimming community further through this initiative.

How have you engaged with VisitScotland’s water wellness campaign?

This is a part of our key messaging and features regularly in our social media posts (on Facebook and Instagram). We use the #YCW2021 hashtag on all of our posts on Instagram to promote and engage in the VisitScotland campaign.

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