10 of the UK’s best outdoor wellbeing retreats

Mountain hikes, wild swims, forest baths or the crackle of a campfire … scenic breaks to recharge mind, body and soul

Beach workouts, Cornwall

This programme of outdoor exercise near Newquay sounds strenuous, but is aimed at all levels. Everyone has a consultation beforehand to set goals, before tackling beach circuit training, trail runs, coastal hikes, core and strength sessions, boxercise and guided stretching. The classes make use of the surroundings, from sand sprints to stair climbs at Bedruthan Steps, plus a hike or run around the Seven Bays, a series of sandy beaches near St Merryn. It is based at Watergate Bay hotel, right on the beach, which has a pool, spa and three restaurants.
From £510 for three nights’ B&B, next retreat 5 November, mountainbeachfitnessretreats.com

Painting and comedy classes, Isle of Wight

Painting & Comedy Classes Retreat, Shanklin, Isle of Wight

This is the first year in more than four decades that Skyros Holidays has been unable to run creative retreats in Greece. On the upside, it has expanded its UK retreats, which are based at a country house in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. There are two retreats a week until mid-November, covering a range of skills, from watercolour painting to comedy writing to singing. Guest numbers are limited to enable social distancing, and all workshops and meals take place outdoors, weather allowing. Between classes and activities, there is time to explore the island on coastal walks.
From £295 for two nights, and £525 for four nights, skyros.com

Wild swimming, Anglesey or the Hebrides

Sea swimming in the Hebrides
Sea swimming in the Hebrides Photograph: immersehebrides.com

If you want to combine wild swimming in lakes and the sea with yoga and meditation, head for Plas Cadnant, a country house on Anglesey with 21 acres of parkland, a river and waterfalls. Zest Life’s retreat here includes yoga sessions outside, when the sun is shining, or in a purpose-built, oak-framed studio. Meals are plant-based, and guests can choose from two-, three- or four-night options.It’s suitable for all swimming abilities. Alternatively, Immerse Hebrides runs wild swimming retreats on the Isle of Lewis, taking in its beautiful beaches and nearby, uninhabited islands.
Anglesey: from £470515680 for two/three/four nights, there are three retreats this month , thezestlife.co.uk. Hebrides: three-night retreats from £375 self-catering (date TBC) or £665 full-board (next on 21 May), immersehebrides.com

Sea kayaking, Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park by sea kayak

On this break along the Pembrokeshire coast, kayakers paddle from Porthclais Harbour to Newgale Beach over two days, bivvying overnight on a remote beach only accessible by sea. En route there is time to explore caves, learn bushcraft skills, forage and fish – the day’s catch will be cooked on an open fire. The operator, Much Better Adventures, has a range of outdoor breaks in the UK and beyond, including a surfing, yoga and wild camping weekend in Cornwall (from £159 for one night, next retreat 12 September).
From £260 for one night, next retreat 8 May 2021, muchbetteradventures.com

Mindful canoeing, Devon

Mindful Canoeing on the River Dart

The Sharpham Trust holds woodland retreats on its 120-hectare estate near Totnes, focusing on mindfulness in nature. One unusual option is its canoeing retreat, where the water’s ebb and flow and the rhythmic paddling help cultivate mindful awareness. Paddlers take daily trips on the River Dart, join guided meditation, relaxation and group sharing sessions, interspersed with periods of silence, and sleep in bell tents in the woods. The food is homegrown and vegetarian, there are walking trails and gardens to explore, and a small swimming pool. If that all sounds too worthy, there is also an onsite vineyard and dairy with daily cheese and wine tastings. Retreats sell out fast – the best way to bag a place is to join the mailing list at sharphamtrust.org/subscribe.
• From £395 for three nights, next retreats June 2021, sharphamtrust.org

Girls-only paddleboarding, Cornwall

Gutsy Girls paddleboarding in Cornwall

Gutsy Girls runs women-only paddleboarding retreats at Gwel an Mor, a spa resort in Portreath, Cornwall. The weekends include two coastal paddleboarding tours from locations such as Sennen Cove, four beach yoga classes at sunrise and sunset, use of the spa facilities and healthy meals by a private chef. Accommodation is a lodge 10 minutes from the beach, with a hot tub; guests can also use the indoor pool, gym, tennis courts and running trails. No paddleboarding experience is needed and 90% of guests travel solo.
From £649 for three nights, next retreats 2 & 9 October, 7 & 28 May and 11 June, gutsygirls.co.uk

Woodland yoga, Somerset

On the wilderness weekend in the Cairngorms, guests stay in cabins
On the wilderness weekend in the Cairngorms, guests stay in cabins Photograph: Reclaim Yourself Holidays

Reclaim Yourself runs yoga retreats all over the world, from a farm in Finnish Lapland to a private island in Panama. It also has some UK options, such as wilderness weekends in the Cairngorms or a digital detox in a Bedfordshire manor house. Its three-night woodland retreat takes place at an off-grid glampsite near Bath, with tents, yurts and log cabins. It includes five yoga classes/workshops, use of the wood-fired sauna and all meals, which are cooked on a cast-iron stove by a chef who specialises in outdoor cooking. There is also time to go for woodland walks and swim in the nearby lake.
From £350 for three nights, next retreat 25 June 2021, reclaimyourself.co.uk

Climbing, North Yorkshire

Wainstones Sphinx Nose

Valley View is a small retreat centre near Whitby, set in woodland between the moors and the sea. It is not running group retreats again until next year, but is offering private retreats for solo travellers or small groups of family and friends (from £285 for two nights). One option is a climbing and yoga break, which includes two days of climbing sandstone crags in the North York Moors, plus optional abseiling. It is suitable for beginners, but more experienced climbers can learn rigging and the techniques of lead climbing. Climbers warm up with an energising vinyasa flow class, and cool down with a stretching and relaxation session atop the crags. The retreat includes all meals (which are vegetarian and vegan), including afternoon tea before departure on the third day.
Climbing and yoga retreat from £375pp for two nights, suitable for groups of three to six people, yogandspice.com

Hiking and forest bathing, Lake District

Trees full of autumn colour at Tarn Hows, with the bare slopes of Wetherlam in the background.
Trees full of autumn colour at Tarn Hows, with the bare slopes of Wetherlam in the background. Photograph: Richard Derwent

The Adventure Yogi runs three hiking and yoga retreats a year at a guesthouse near Hawkshead in the Lake District. A mountain guide leads a hike on the first day, with a gentler walk to Tarn Hows on the second day, for a picnic and a spot of forest bathing. Each day starts with an energising yoga class in a garden studio overlooking the hills, and ends with restorative yoga and meditation. Food is plant-based and cooked by specialist retreat chefs. Other options include yoga, surfing and coastal walking in Cornwall (next retreat 9 October).
From £565 for three nights, next retreats 5 April and 3 June 2021, adventureyogi.com

Pilates and Nordic walking, Peak District

HF Holidays runs mind and body breaks in various locations across the UK, including Northumberland, the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales, with activities such as tai chi and meditation. The next retreat is a yoga and walking holiday in the Peaks (from £334 for three nights, 6 November). Looking ahead to 2021, there is a four-night pilates and Nordic walking break in the same location, with twice-daily pilates, daily guided Nordic walking and afternoons free to explore local attractions – Dovedale and the Tissington Trail are less than a mile away. Guests stay in a country house in the village of Thorpe; food includes a five-course feast of local dishes such as venison sausage and Derbyshire oatcake, Chatsworth lamb and Bakewell tart with Peak Dairy ice-cream.
From £529pp for four nights, next retreat 13 September 2021, hfholidays.co.uk


Rachel Dixon

The GuardianTramp

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