7 Of the best retreats in the UK

Jessica Lone Summers

Whether it's wellness, meditation or a new outlook on life you're looking for, these are the top British holiday retreats in which to indulge yourself and replenish your soul

With the masses exclaiming, “New Year, new me” and promising dramatic changes, taking a calmer approach might actually be the best way forward. Put less pressure on yourself and invest in a little me-time...

 

Eco Yoga Argyll, Scotland

This year prophesies an even bigger jump towards being environmentally friendly. Anyone wishing to holiday without the carbon footprint should seriously consider retreating to EcoYoga in the dazzling Scottish countryside. You’ll be engrossed from the start with the numerous yoga choices; receiving tutelage on everything from Ashtanga to Yin and Hatha Yoga.

Says owner Nick Loening, “EcoYoga is a 100 per cent renewably-powered yoga retreat centre. We have a genuine commitment to sustainability and deeply care for our guests. It’s a wonderful getaway. A place to soak away your stresses, invest in yourself and rejuvenate completely.”

After educating your body and mind, depart to the spa dome, Japanese hot tub and outdoor bathing spot where—no matter the weather—you’ll be unswervingly tempted to take a warm dip.

 

FitAgain, Dorset

fit again Dorset retreat

What could be more in keeping with your New Year’s resolutions than a retreat that boosts your exercise regime, endorphins and mental health? Located in picturesque West Dorset, FitAgain is run by a wife and husband duo with a combined service of 38 years in the Royal Navy, who now focus on nutrition, adventure-filled exercise and motivational speaking to keep their guests’ minds and bodies alert.

Says co-founder Lucy Watkinson, “The retreat gives people a toolbox of emotional skills as well learning the correct form and techniques surrounding fitness, such as: HITT sessions, hiking, wild swims, yoga, reflexology and much more. We truly care about the people who come to us so we give them as much help as we can post-retreat. We want to  continue their goals when they’re back in their normal hectic day to day lives, using ongoing three-month support through our FitAgain app.”

 

Arvon Writers’ Retreat, Shropshire

Every writer dreads the sensation of longing to write, but sitting down to do just that and duly getting distracted/losing inspiration/not settling on one idea (tick whichever applies). And, as frustrating as this may be, it’s not always the fault of the writer—what’s really needed is a little encouragement and relaxation.

Enter The Clockhouse, encased by 26 acres of woodland you’ll be spoilt with awe-inspiring walks—the kind that completely surround you with chirruping sounds of the countryside, and stimulate your mind.

Simplicity is the key with this retreat. Delectable meals are provided and are enjoyed with other writers, luxurious yet understated bedrooms will inspire rather than distract and the workshop and library will give you pockets of inventive vision every time you venture in.

 

Wild & Free, Cornwall

This women-only retreat aims to reconnect you with the earth while you navigate the waves and calm your mind through yoga, all within the stunning scenery of Cornwall’s coastline. It focuses on “re-wilding” yourself, aka re-establishing your lost connection with nature through surf lessons, morning Vinyasa Flow, kayaking, sleeping under the stars in luxury yurts, and exploring your feminine psyche. After bracing the English sea, the sauna and jacuzzi beckon—glass of wine in hand—and will be highly deserved.

For the female adventurer who needs a short sabbatical from her lively career and home life, this trip is a love letter to yourself. It’s a chance to breathe without interruption, explore new activities without judgement, and wholly focus on oneself before returning—rejuvenated—to daily life.

 

Sharpham Trust Walking Retreat, Devon

Situated in 550 acres of land next to the River Dart sitting in a Capability Brown garden lives Sharpham House, an imposing 17th century example of English Palladian architecture. It is here that you will learn about mindfulness, both through quiet contemplation and seven-eight mile walks around the estate grounds.

Says manager Ben Ballard, “Mindfulness isn't just about sitting on a cushion. It's about developing an awareness for what's happening around you, and being in the Devonshire landscape can really assist this, particularly if you've come from an urban environment.”

Here, you’ll concentrate on understanding the land, appreciating its history and bringing your hectic mind to a place of acceptance and peace, all while learning about the importance of caring for our environment and aiming to live a sustainable life.

 

Lake Isle Retreats Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

For those who imbibe peace by immersing themselves in others’ culture, what could be more refreshing than a retreat spent with monks? Tucked away next to the secluded island of Inish Rath—a famous Hare Krishna island—is Lake Isle Retreats. Here, you’ll look deep into yourself through yoga, walks and meditation, and have the opportunity to refresh your spirit and truly relax.

Says owner Tim McEvitt, “Although the nearby temple is an ISKCON Krishna temple, none of our guests are Krishna followers. Many of our guests have secular, agnostic, atheistic, Catholic, Protestant, or a mixture of views. Our retreat is for people to relax and take inspiration—if the guests want to ask about the religion they can, many come to just rejuvenate in their own way.”

 

Gutsy, Chichester

The importance of maintaining a healthy gut has become common knowledge in recent years, but few of us actually know how to go about getting one. The bacteria your gut holds effects so much of how our bodies function—including how happy we are—and Gutsy, the dedicated belly goodness retreat, teaches just that. Located in Huntson Manor House and surrounded by an oasis of calming nature, you’ll delve into your personal gut history and be taught how to take better care of it in the future. Expect beach walks, natural wine tastings and cooking workshops to enlighten your mind and tummy.

The material you’ll learn on your stay will guide you long after you’ve spent time relaxing at Gutsy, from the body movements that aid good digestion to starting your very own SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to grow at home and introduce to your diet. You're bound to pick up pleasant, non-restrictive dietry and lifestyle tips for a happy gut, and leave with a freer mind.


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