Iona, Scotland, the setting for a wild swimming retreat in the Inner Hebrides.Photo: Blue Sky in My Pocket / Getty Images
Submerge and coolMull and Iona
Swimming coach Emma MacDonald founded Wild Hebridean Swimming in 2022 after returning to Mull. The company offers holidays for open water swimmers, as well as retreats for those who can only tread water or do a bit of doggy paddling. These involve short dives into the clear waters of the Inner Hebrides, home to seals, underwater kelp forests and waterfalls. Longer swimming sessions can be arranged upon request. The program also includes a guided walk around Iona, the burial place of 48 Scottish kings, including Macbeth. Guests stay in Achaban House, which has wood-burning stoves and a wood-fired hot tub, where you can choose from activities including yoga and massage.
From £895 including all meals and wine, next retreat March 8-11, wildhebrideanswimming.com
Poetry, yoga and forest bathing, Monmouthshire
Regular yoga and forest bath retreats are organized at the family-run 15-acre Hill Farm in Tintern. In May, poetry writing will be added to the program at a women-only retreat co-led by former Hampshire poet laureate Kathryn Bevis. In addition to yoga, writing and forest bathing, there will be free time to enjoy the hot tub, sauna and plunge pool in the wood-fired eco-spa, and to share favorite poems around the fire in the evening. Guests can bring their own tent or camper, or book a bell tent, yurt or room in the farmhouse. Vegetarian meals are included; massages and other treatments are extra.
By £375, May 3-5, bosretraites.nl
Rewild yourself, Lancashire
Seasonal retreats take place on a 220-acre, partly re-vegetated family farm set amongst meadows, woodland and swimming ponds, overlooking the salt marshes of Morecambe Bay. The spring retreat, Awaken Your Senses, combines nature and creativity: there are clay and driftwood workshops, hedgerow foraging and sourdough baking, plus coastal walks, swimming and bonfires. The summer retreat (June 28-30) focuses on midsummer folklore, with barefoot walking and dancing around the maypole, while the autumn retreat (September 20-22) covers mushroom growing and leather crafts. Guests stay in converted barns, cottages or cabins, eat communal meals, participate in daily meditation and alternate cold water therapy with a dip in the wood-fired hot tub.
From €420, April 5-7, the-rewilding.com
Sound healing and art, Norfolk
Ubuntu Spirit runs inclusive and accessible community events in London, from African drumming to art therapy to sound baths. It also runs an affordable spring retreat at West Lexham, a wellness center set in the 21-acre Norfolk countryside. It’s packed with activities; participants can participate in as much or as little as they want. Classes include hatha and yin yoga, meditation and breathwork, dance fitness and Zumba, sound healing and gong baths. There are workshops on African drumming and art, plus nature walks and fire pit gatherings. You can also swim in the pool or lake, and go canoeing or boating. Accommodation ranges from bell tents to huts, tree houses and a converted barn.
From €290 including all meals, May 10-12, ubuntuspirit.co.uk
Ladies sailing, Norfolk Broads
Eastwood Whelpton, a family-run sailing company, hosted Women on the Water evening sailing sessions on the Broads for the first time last summer. They proved so popular that this year it will be expanded to include a weekend wellness retreat for women. The retreat takes place on traditional Broads yachts, with an emphasis on relaxing in nature and having fun on the water. No sailing experience is necessary to book a berth, there are skippers at the helm. As well as exploring the waterways – the River Ant, Barton Broad – there are stops for nature walks, yoga and art activities and visits to local attractions such as How Hill. Breakfast and lunch are eaten on board, and the boats dock at waterside pubs for dinner.
£379.90, May 17-19, eastwood-whelpton.co.uk
Woodland retreat, Cornwall
Cabilla Cornwall, a perched farm on Bodmin Moor, is restoring its ancient oak woodlands, temperate rainforest, wildflower meadows and rivers. During the ‘dirty weekends’, visitors can engage in rainforest restoration work, take a guided nature walk to learn about soil health and species reintroductions, and meet beavers Sigourney and Jean-Claude. In addition to the hard work, there is a relaxing yoga class, a sound bath and a forest sauna session. The food is prepared by guest chefs and the evenings are spent around the fire listening to live music. Guests stay in cabins with woodburning stoves and Bramley toiletries, and share communal facilities in the barns, including a sitting room and rain showers.
From €425, two retreats this month and three in August, cabillacornwall.com
Forest yoga, near Bath
This off-grid summer yoga retreat takes place in a secret forest 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 through the valley) and relax in the wood-fired sauna or wander around to walk. the campfire. The food is prepared by an outdoor cooking expert, and guests share the Treeshack, which has hot showers and composting toilets. There is room for a few tents; other options include yurts, huts, shepherd’s huts and a cob roundhouse. They are all handmade using traditional building techniques, with wood from the forest, and they all have a wood-burning stove.
From €425, July 12-15, reclaimyourself.co.uk
Conscious walking in the hillsthe peak district
Mind Over Mountains is a charity that organizes nature walks and talks with professional guides. In addition to one-day hill walks, there are regular weekend retreats, including check-ins on Zoom before and after; two days of mountain hiking with mountain leaders; life coaching, mindfulness and meditation sessions; dormitory accommodation and all meals. For example, at an upcoming retreat in Dovedale in the Peak District, the walks will take in hilltops, riverbanks, rock formations and caves. There are mindfulness stops along the way and the chance to talk one-on-one with mental health counselors and coaches – who walk alongside the participants – without any pressure. Other retreat locations include Dolgellau in Eryri (Snowdonia), Wasdale in the Lake District and Denbighshire.
£320 for two nights (scholarships available for those needing support), March 22-24mindovermountains.org.uk
Bushcraft for men in the South Downs
The Sustainability Center is located in woodland near Petersfield in the South Downs National Park. It offers courses and workshops focused on green living, rural skills and bushcraft. There is a men’s bushcraft retreat in the woods in September designed to give participants time away from screens. They will learn how to identify trees, plants, wild foods and herbal medicine; making natural cordage with plants; make a fire using different methods; tie a tarp, tie knots, and throw ropes, then apply these skills to set up a shelter. It’s a one-day course, but participants get a 10% discount on two nights’ accommodation – hostel or B&B at the local South Downs Eco Lodge, which opened in 2021 – if they stay in either or camp in tents or yurts.
Course €80camping from £13.50 per night, September 28, sustainability-center.org
Foraging, brewing and crafts, Lake District
Wild Human leads expeditions around the world: tracking mountain lions in Colorado, exploring jungles in Borneo and learning survival skills on a desert island in Panama. For most Brits, the bushcraft courses in Britain, on three private estates in the Lake District, are more feasible. Previous courses have ranged from beginner to advanced bushcraft skills; foraging, including smoking, pickling, preserving and brewing; and crafts, such as building corn and clay ovens. This year there will be a five-day spring workshop based on living on 100% wild food – details to be finalized when the founders return from Borneo this month. Participants go wild camping, in their own tent, under a tarpaulin, in a hammock or in a self-made natural shelter.
£595April 29-May 3, wildhuman.com
Back to nature in a woodland garden, Devon
The Art of Rewilding, run by Natasha Lythgoe, offers retreats with an emphasis on complete immersion in the natural world, designed to enable participants to connect with their ‘wild’ selves. In addition to longer ‘vision quests’ requiring solo time in the wild, this year’s program includes the four-day Call of the Wild for Women in East Devon in August. The retreat takes place in a private woodland garden in the Blackdown Hills, which has been transformed from a horse pasture to a rewilded landscape with edible plants and a natural swimming pool. Over a long weekend, the retreat explores the ‘Celtic Wheel of the Year’ with guided exercises for connecting with nature (activities that help you slow down and feel nature), wild swimming, sharing circles and time around the fire, with guests who camp or stay in nearby B&Bs.
£545 (scholarships available), 8-11 Augustthe art of rewilding
Men well-being in Hertfordshire
Surrounded by woodlands on one side and the rolling Chilterns hills of Great Gaddesden on the other, the Croft Farm Escape outside Hemel Hempstead is a great place to relax and regularly hosts retreats. The Men’s Wild 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 cacao ceremony. Healthy meals and accommodation in the converted barn are included.
£299, April 5-7thecroftfarmescape.com