Seven of our favourite UK wellness retreats
Ready to relax and reboot? Get away from it all on one of these restorative retreats
With staycation options opening up, it’s time to peek out from our screens, venture beyond our front doors and indulge in some long-awaited ‘me’ time.
‘Healing retreats offer a rare combination of relaxation and enjoyment with regeneration and powerful transformation, making them the perfect counterbalance to the hectic pace of daily life,’ says Lynn Jackson, founder of The Bespoke Retreat Company. ‘Unplugging from our various devices, as well as the weight of our cares and responsibilities – even for a few days – can pay enormous dividends for our mental and emotional health.’
Yoga and meditation not your thing? Then why not learn to sketch, start writing that first novel, try your hand at bushcraft or take a punt at stand-up paddleboarding?
For awakening your inner artist: Yoga+Creativity in Scotland
Discover your creative side with a week at Bonnyrigg’s ancient Dalhousie Castle. Eat.Pray.Move’s Yoga+Creativity retreat combines daily yoga and meditation classes with sketching and ‘ifonography’ (smartphone photography) projects to help you access and channel that untapped creative energy.
There’ll be plenty of opportunities to scour the historic city of Edinburgh and the beautiful surrounding countryside for inspiration too – a walking tour, museum and castle visits, a private boat ride on Loch Lomond, a spa day, and a whisky tour and tasting are all included. No previous experience with art or yoga is required – just comfy clothes and an open mind.
The next Yoga+Creativity retreat takes place on 25-30 July 2021.
For a restorative weekend: Our Retreat, Somerset
If you’re short on time, a weekend at Our Retreat’s luxury country farmhouse will give you a well-deserved opportunity to relax and reset. Each morning begins with a guided meditation and dynamic flow yoga class designed to set mind and body up for the day to come. Next is a hearty, healthy brunch, followed by a guided walk through the beautiful Somerset countryside.
Afternoons and evenings are punctuated by rebalancing Pilates and Barre classes, restorative yin yoga sessions, and healing breathwork and sound bath workshops, not to mention fuelled by nourishing plant-based meals and snacks. You’ll also be invited to take part in life coaching workshops designed to equip you with the tools you’ll need to maintain your newfound calm back in the real world.
For a tailor-made experience: The Bespoke Retreat Company, West Sussex
If a retreat sounds good in theory, but the idea of yoga, meditation or group activities puts you off, why not design your own? Lynn Jackson’s team of therapists, teachers and trainers at Bespoke Retreats facilitates tailor-made experiences for individuals, couples and groups at handpicked locations in West Sussex, from beachside villas to woodland yurts and luxury barns.
What goes on the agenda is completely up to you: yoga, meditation or qigong, holistic bodywork or energy healing treatments, or even a spot of art therapy. An energy healer and spiritual life coach, Lynn believes that freeing ourselves from the distractions of day-to-day life can help to soothe a fractious nervous system and allow us to fully absorb the life-enhancing benefits of energy work.
Bespoke Retreats take place on dates to suit you.
For reconnecting with nature: Wandering Wild, Dartmoor
If the best retreats take you on a journey, Wandering Wild takes you one step further. Over the course of three days, you’ll traverse some of the wildest, most beautiful and most isolated areas of Dartmoor on foot, with no clear path or trail to follow. But this is no camping jaunt or fitness challenge – you’ll walk slowly, often silently, practising mindful walking for at least three hours each day. You’ll also take regular breaks to reflect, journal, meditate and swim.
If goals, targets and deadlines dominate your days, going ‘off-grid’ will give you a valuable opportunity to turn off your phone, disconnect from day-to-day demands and get back to basics. Getting to grips with ‘outer’ nature might be the perfect way to learn more about your own ‘inner’ nature.
Wandering Wild retreats take place on various dates, with spaces from July 2021.
For would-be novelists: Arvon Writing Retreats, various locations
Maybe everyone has a book in them, but not everyone has a place to write it or the motivation they need to get started. If lack of space, peace or guidance has left you stalled on page one, a writing retreat could help get you back on track.
Arvon runs a range of 5-day retreats targeted at novelists, non-fiction writers and poets – if you’re new to writing, try Starting to Write, Finding Your Voice or Creating Poetry in a Brave New World. Inspiring locations such as The Hurst (former home of playwright John Osborne), 16th-century manor house Totleigh Barton and 18th-century millowner’s house Lumb Bank (formerly owned by poet Ted Hughes) will provide the peace and quiet you need to get your head down. Expert tutors and guest speakers will be on hand to provide individual guidance and lead readings, talks and Q&A sessions.
Arvon Writing Retreats will take place on various dates from July 2021.
For nourishing and rebalancing: Ayurveda & Yoga at The Clover Mill, Worcestershire
Based on therapeutic principles derived from ancient Indian wisdom, The Clover Mill’s Ayurveda & Yoga retreat combines Ayurvedic techniques with gentle yoga and meditation to nurture and rebalance mind, body and spirit.
You’ll be offered a personal dosha assessment on arrival, followed by daily 60-90 minute treatments. When you’re not busy listening to inspiring talks, learning the art of self-massage, savouring nourishing Ayurvedic meals prepared with home-grown produce or relaxing in your luxury lakeside eco-lodge, you’ll also have ample opportunities to explore the steam room, relaxation areas and grounds. Go for two, three or five days to enjoy some much-needed breathing space, and lay the foundations for future you.
Ayurveda & Yoga retreats take place on various dates, with spaces available from June 2021.
For adventure lovers: Thera-Sea Rewilding Retreats, Cornwall
Perfect for those who relish a challenge or long for a chance to become better acquainted with the great outdoors, Thera-Sea’s rewilding retreats combine wild swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding with moonlight hikes, bushcraft and self-development workshops. The aim? To help you build on the six basic pillars of wellness: physical activity, relaxation, purpose, sleep, nutrition and relationships.
Based in the grounds of a 300-year-old stone cottage, you’ll sleep in a cottage, lodge or hut – making your experience as wild as you dare. Accessible only by boat or on foot, the secluded wilderness setting provides the perfect backdrop for disconnecting from outside pressures and reconnecting with the natural world.
Thera-Sea retreats take place on various dates, with spaces available from July 2021.
Main image: The Clover Mill