Relax, get fit, reboot body and mind and be pampered…all is possible, and at a social distance, on these revitalising, life-affirming breaks around the British Isles.
Find your best body in Kent
Peace, privacy, luxury… The Fold is a beautiful new shepherds hut in the Weald of Kent. Actually, it’s two shepherds huts, joined in the middle. This means room for a full spec kitchen, shower room and loo, a king-sized bed, sofa and swanky copper bath plus a wood burner and back up heating for year-round cosiness. The Fold sits in its own field, where your only company will be the birds (including the resident barn owl), the bees and the butterflies. While you’re here, have a full body check! Co-owner John is an ex Harley Street ‘super coach’ and corrective exercise specialist and offers everything from Fit2Go Body Screening programmes, which identify body areas that could be prone to injury, right up to detailed assessments for those with existing back and joint injuries. With each you will receive targeted training programmes to take home. Pilates in the onsite studio and Nordic Walking lessons in the surrounding countryside are also possible. Prices from £130 per night, room only, although chefcooked meals can be delivered at extra charge.
Feel twice as nice in North Yorkshire
Yoga and climbing may not, at first glance, have very much in common. Yet both are about connections, with ourselves and our universe, and each requires a discipline of both body and mind. On two-night Yoga and Climbing breaks in North Yorkshire, the days are a combination of energising and relaxing yoga plus climbing instruction at a chosen crag (depending on ability) in the North York Moors. Then it’s back to Yoga & Spice’s base near Whitby for relaxed evenings with vegan and vegetarian dinners followed by satisfying slumbers in comfortable ensuite cabins. These breaks work really well for a family or group of friends (4-6 people) wanting a fun activity break away together. No climbing experience is needed but you do need to be reasonably fit to take part. Prices from £450 per person in a shared room or £575 in a single room, to include yoga, two days climbing, meals and two/three nights accommodation.
Dive right in the Northern Isles of Scotland
We might not think of the UK as a Scuba diving destination but it can actually be a great place to start discovering our underwater world. You can do a full PADI diving course but why not dip a toe in the water, so to speak, and learn the basics on a PADI Discover Scuba Diving (sometimes called Try Dive) course. That way, you can find out if you like it before splashing out on a more expensive diving holiday abroad. The courses take place in more than 200 centres around the UK, often in swimming pools but sometimes in the sea, too, and can be completed in just one day. For example, you could stay at Cantick Head Lighthouse Cottage (sleeps four) which has an incredible location on the edge of a cliff in the Orkney Islands, and then do a Try Dive at Scapa Flow, famous for its shipwrecks. Dive prices vary. Guided shore diving in Orkney costs £170 per person, and prices at Cantick Head Lighthouse Cottage start from £120 per night.
Healing with horses in Exmoor
Well we’ve heard of horse whispering. But do we ever stop to think about the positive effect that horses could have on us? At Heale Farm, owners Judith and Dean run two-day (one-night) Heale Horses & Nature Retreats, designed to help those with too much stress, anxiety or trauma in their lives. Guests are invited to go out walking and talking in the Exmoor wilderness with Judith and her two gentle horses, Shalindra and Roger. Judith is an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Master Practitioner and uses this method of coaching, alongside the soothing power of the horses and surrounding nature, to help people think in more useful and positive ways. As well as two sessions with the horses, the retreat includes two breathing and mindfulness sessions and meals in Judith and Dean’s farmhouse kitchen. Guests stay in one of three beautiful cottages on site. Prices from £250 per person, all-inclusive.
Making waves in the Isle of Man
Whilst the TT may be one of the most wellknown events in the Isle of Man calendar, their shores are also home to a range of activities to get your blood pumping. Feel elated as you whiz down the zip-lines after navigating one of the highest rope course in the UK at Ape Mann Adventure Park, or, for an experience you will never forget, try coasteering with Adventurous Experiences in Peel. Find your inner child wanderlust as you explore caves, scramble over boulders and take courageous leaps off the rocks, with the backdrop of Peel Castle. Treat yourself afterwards to a locally-made Davisons ice cream as you stroll through the pretty seaside town. The Isle of Man, with its unspoilt coastline, hidden coves and craggy cliffs is perfect for water sports, but how ever you choose to spend your time on this stunning Manx island there’s never a dull moment! Coasteering is priced £45 per person.
Relax, Reset, Rewild…. in Cornwall
That’s the motto of Thera-Sea, who run breaks in Cornwall, on the banks of the River Fal. The first clue that this is a get-awayfrom-it-all type of holiday comes when you arrive – access is only via hiking or boating. An old woodsman’s cottage is on the banks of the River Fal and surrounded by woodland – guests stays in the cottage or other buildings dotted around, like The Treehouse and The Potting Shed. The goal during your two-night stay is to inspire you to achieve goals and manage stress. Founder Katy Griffin trained as a mental health nurse and runs inspiring self-development workshops alongside off-grid activities. There’s wild swimming and torch lit boat trips along the river plus star gazing and huddling around the fire pit to chat and watch the chef prepare dinner. Plenty of time is given also to just lie round in a hammock. The course is available on selected dates from now until November. Prices from £315 per person, all-inclusive.
Rest and digest in Worcestershire
Ancient Ayurvedic texts claim that many illnesses, both physical and mental, stem from poor digestion. Modern science is catching up, with a growing realisation that we really are what we eat. The five-night Healthy Gut Retreat, at The Clover Mill in Worcestershire, aims to help guests re-set their biome with a combination of pre- and pro-biotic food and drinks, yoga and yoga-nidra, meditation, massage and talks. Guests stay in beautiful, peaceful eco lodges overlooking a lake, which helps to complete the unwinding process. Goody bags are dished out before leaving and, guess what?, they’re not full of chocolate, but instead are crammed with healthy recipes, spice mixes, fermentation starters, massage oil, a personalised yoga practice and more , so that you can keep up the good work when you get home. The next retreats are from July 15-20, September 16-21 and October 21-26. Prices from £1975 per person, all inclusive.
Soothe your soul in the Wye Valley
The Tudor Farmhouse, in the heart of both the Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley is a great place to immerse yourself in nature. The hotel’s Soul Soother breaks take things a step further as they include forest bathing experience (or Shinrin-yoku in Japanese) with expert Carina Greenwood. So…for those who don’t know, it doesn’t mean having an actual bath in the forest. It isn’t just about taking a walk in the forest either. It’s about learning to fully immerse yourself in the woodland environment, being mindful and opening up all your senses. Exercises might include time spent concentrating only on movement, colour or smell for example, or really studying a tree up close. The experience finishes with a foraged tea ceremony. All those who book this package will also receive a gratitude journal plus a sleep spray. In-room massages or a visit to local floatation centre Float in the Forest can also be arranged. Prices from £298 per person including two nights half board, a forest bathing session, a Bramley Sleep Spray and a Gratitude Journal.
One night refresher in Pembrokeshire
Just a one-night break away from home can be surprisingly invigorating. Sea Kayaking, Foraging and Wild Camping along the Pembrokeshire Coast with Much Better Adventures achieves it even better than most. Day one blows away the cobwebs straightaway, pootling in a kayak around wooded estuaries and secluded bays. Explore sea caves, spot seals and fish for mackerel, which you’ll cook later over the campfire for dinner. The expert guides teach you some bush craft skills and help you forage for more edible goodies. Slumber comes in the form of sleeping and Bivvy bags beneath the stars on a secluded beach, only accessible by boat. Next morning after breakfast, there’s more kayaking and your guides can teach you the art of body surfing. This trip runs between May and September and is for up to eight people, so ideal with a group of family or friends. Prices from £260 per person, all-inclusive.
Words | Emma O’Reilly