Iona, Scotland, location for a wild swimming retreat in the Inner Hebrides.Photo: Blue Sky In My Pocket/Getty Images
Dip and coolMill and Iona
Swimming coach Emma MacDonald founded Wild Hebridean Swimming in 2022 after moving back to Mull. The company offers holidays for open water swimmers, but also caters for those who can only hit the water or do a little doggy paddle. These involve short dives in the clear waters of the Inner Inlet, home to seals, underwater kelp forests and waterfalls. Longer swims can be arranged on request. The program also includes a guided walk on Iona, the burial place of 48 Scottish kings including Macbeth. Guests stay at Achaban House, which has a log burner and a log hot tub, where a selection of activities are included, including yoga and massages.
From £895 including all meals and wine, next place 8-11 March, wildhebrideanswimming.com
Poetry, yoga and forest bathing, Monmouthshire
Hill Farm, a family-run 15-acre site in Tintern, hosts regular yoga and forest bathing retreats. In May, poetry writing will be added to the program on a women-only retreat led by former Hampshire poet Kathryn Bevis. As well as yoga, writing and forest bathing, there will be free time to enjoy the hot tub, sauna and plunge pool in the wooden eco-spa, and to share your favorite poems around the evening fire. Guests can bring their own tents or camper vans, or reserve a bell tent, yurt or room at the farmhouse. Includes vegetarian meals; massages and other treatments are extra.
Oh £375, 3-5 May, forestry.co.uk
Rewild yourself, Lancashire
Seasonal retreats held on a 220-acre family farm, partially rewilded among pastures, woodland and swimming pools, overlooking the salt marshes in Morecambe Bay. The spring retreat, Awaken Your Senses, combines nature and creativity: there are clay and driftwood workshops, hedgerow foraging and sourdough baking, as well as coastal walks, swimming and bonfires. The summer retreat (28-30 June) focuses on midsummer folklore, with barefoot walking and dancing around May, while the autumn retreat (20-22 September) is about mushroom cultivation and leather crafts. Guests stay in restored barns, cottages or cabins, eat communal meals, participate in daily meditation and cold water therapy alternating with dips in the wood-fired hot tub.
From £420, April 5-7, very rewilding.com
Art and sound therapy, Norfolk
Ubuntu Spirit runs inclusive and accessible community events in London, from African drumming to art therapy to sound baths. He also runs affordable spring retreats at West Lexham, a wellness center in 21 acres of north Norfolk. It is full of activities; attendees can participate in as much or as little as they wish. Classes include hatha and yin yoga, meditation and breath work, dance fitness and Zumba, sound healing and gong baths. The workshops cover African drumming and art, as well as nature walks and fire pit gatherings. Guests can swim in the pool or lake, and go canoeing or boating. Accommodation ranges from bell tents to cabins, tree houses and converted barns.
From £290 including all meals, May 10-12, ubuntuspirit.co.uk
Women’s sailing, Norfolk Broads
Eastwood Whelpton, a family sailing company, held Women on the Water evening sailing sessions on the Broads for the first time last summer. They were so popular that this year they are starting a women’s wellness retreat at the weekend. The retreat takes place on a traditional Broads yacht, with a focus on relaxing in nature and having fun on the water. No sailing experience is necessary to book a deal, as skippers are at the helm. As well as exploring the waterways – Anthill, Barton Broad – there are stops for nature walks, yoga and art activities, and visits to local landmarks such as How Hill. Breakfast and lunch are eaten on board, and the boats pull up at waterside pubs for dinner.
£379.90, May 17-19, eastwood-whelpton.co.uk
Wood retreat, Cornwall
Cabilla Cornwall, an upland hill farm on Bodmin Moor, is restoring its ancient oak woodlands, temperate rainforest, wildflower meadows and rivers. On their “dirty weekend”, visitors can tackle some rainforest restoration work, go on a guided nature walk to learn about soil health and species restoration, and meet the Beavers, Sigourney and Jean-Claude. As well as the hard work, there is a relaxing yoga class, a sound bath and a woodland sauna session. The food is cooked by guest chefs and evenings are spent around the fire listening to live music. Guests stay in cabins with wood-burning stoves and Bramley toiletries, and share communal facilities in the barns, including a lounge and monsoon showers.
From £425, two retreats this month and three in August, cabillacornwall.com
Woodland yoga, near Bath
This summer yoga retreat takes place off the grid in a secret woodland near Bath. There are five yoga classes – dynamic in the morning, more introspective in the evening – and free time to walk in the surrounding hills, swim in the lake (a short walk down the valley), and relax in or around the wood-burning sauna. the campfire. Food is prepared by an outdoor cooking expert, and guests share the Treeshack, which has hot showers and composting toilets. There is space for a few tents; Other options include yurts, cabins, shepherd’s huts and a round cob house. They are all hand made using traditional building techniques with wood from the woods and each has a wood burning stove.
From £425, July 12-15, reclaim yourself.co.uk
A careful hill walkthe Peak District
Mind Over Mountains is a charity that organizes nature walks and talks with professional counsellors. As well as one-day hill walks, there are regular weekend retreats, which include a Zoom check-in before and after; two days hill walking with mountain leaders; life coaching, mindfulness and meditation sessions; dormitory accommodation and all meals. On an upcoming retreat in Dovedale in the Peak District, for example, the walks take in hilltop, riverside, rock formations and caves. There are mental stops along the way, and the opportunity to speak face-to-face with mental health counselors and trainers – who walk alongside participants – without any pressure. Other retreat locations include Dolgellau in Snowdonia (An Sneachta), Wasdale in the Lake District and, Denbighshire.
£320 for two nights (bursaries available for those who need support), March 22-24mindovermountains.org.uk
Men’s craft in the South Downs
The Sustainability Center is located in woodland near Gort Peter in the South Downs national park. It runs courses and workshops focusing on green living, rural skills and nutrition. In September, a men’s boating retreat in the woods is designed to give participants time away from screens. They will learn how to identify trees, plants, wild food and herbal medicine; making natural rope using plants; building a fire using different methods; rig a tarp, tie knots and throw ropes, and apply these skills to set up a shelter. It’s a one-day course, but attendees get 10% off two nights’ accommodation – hostel or bed and breakfast at the on-site South Downs Eco Lodge, opening in 2021 – either staying in, or camping in tents or yurts.
Course £80camping from £13.50 per night, September 28, sustainability-center.org
Hunting, brewing and craft, Lake District
Wild Human leads tours around the world: tracking mountain lions in Colorado, exploring jungles in Borneo and learning survival skills on an uninhabited island in Panama. More accessible to most Britons are his UK vocational courses, on three private estates in the Lake District. Past courses have included beginner and advanced gunsmithing skills; foraging, including smoking, pickling, preserving and brewing; and crafts, such as garb construction and clay ovens. This year, there is a five-day spring workshop based on making a living from 100% wild foods – details to be finalized when the founders return from Borneo this month. The participants will camp wild, in their own tents, under a tarp, in a hammock or in a self-made natural shelter.
£59529 April-3 May, wildhuman.com
Back to nature in a forest garden, Devon
The Art of Rewilding, run by Natasha Lythgoe, offers retreats that focus on total immersion in the natural world, designed to allow participants to connect with their “wild” selves. As well as longer “visionary quests” involving time alone in the wild, this year’s program includes the four-day Women’s Call of the Wild in east Devon in August. The retreat takes place in a private forest garden in the Black Hills, which has been transformed from a horse paddock to a re-weeded landscape with edible plants and a natural pool. Over a long weekend the retreat will explore the “Celtic Wheel of the year” with guided nature connected practices (activities to help you slow down and feel nature), wild swimming, circles and sharing time around the fire, with guests at camping or staying indoors. Bed and Breakfast nearby.
£545 (sponsorships available), 8-11 Augustterror
Men well-being in Hertfordshire
Surrounded by woodland on one side and the rolling hills of the Chilterns of Great Gaddesden on the other, the Croft Farm Escape outside Hemel Hempstead is the perfect place to let loose and attracts regular retreatants. The Wild Men’s Retreat, held in April, is designed to help participants slow down and rejuvenate, with a schedule that includes a hike, yoga, ax throwing and a gym session, as well as a sauna and ice bath, fire gathering and a cocoa ceremony . . Wholesome meals and accommodation in the restored barn are included.
£299, April 5-7thecroftfarmescape.com