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STAYCATIONS | Our pick of the best UK retreats for wellbeing, meditation and more

By Rebecca Miles – 1st February 2021

Top of our wish list for 2021? An indulgent, relaxing and reinvigorating UK retreat. Somewhere we can journey to for a few days, and completely and wholeheartedly throw ourselves into an escape from the everyday.

So in the Girl About Travel Club (which is now free to join – sign up here), we spoke to Caroline Sylger-Jones, founder of Queen of Retreats, the UK’s most trusted guide to the world of retreating.

Caroline talked about what to expect from a retreat and how to get the most from a retreat, as well as sharing her recommendations for some fabulous UK retreats.

Here are a few of the retreats she recommended, or you can listen to the whole conversation in the Travel Club.

And there’s a Girl About bonus retreat recommended by Lyndsey, the founder of Girl About, at Emma’s Dale Retreats – and Girl About Travel Club members receive an exclusive 10% discount.

Best for… an affordable retreat: Middle Piccadilly, Dorset

White tiled cottage with green lawn for a UK retreat

For anyone wanting a relaxed, homely atmosphere for some quiet, low-key down time, Middle Piccadilly offers back-to-basics vegetarian and detox retreats in rural Dorset.

The 17th-century thatched cottage with outhouses has five bedrooms and plenty of indoor and outdoor space in which to recharge your batteries and have treatments with fantastic therapists who take the time to treat you as a whole person.

Established in 1986 by Eliana Harvey, who is still very much involved in the day-to-day running, this is a great place to try more spiritual treatments such as shamanic healing, says Queen of Retreats.

Find out more

Best for… a writing retreat: Arvon Creative Writing Retreats, Shropshire, Devon and Yorkshire

Arvon runs writing retreats at three historic writing houses in England: The Hurst in Shropshire, Totleigh Barton in Devon, and Lumb Bank in Yorkshire (pictured).

Each venue hosts a range of residential writing courses throughout the year, covering such genres as fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting and playwriting. The five-day courses are tutored by two acclaimed writers and most feature a guest reader mid-week; Arvon also occasionally runs writing with Pilates, yoga or walking retreats.

Find out more

Best for… an inspirational, entrepreneurial retreat: Being at the Cottage, Abergavenny, Wales

Two chairs and a table in front on a window

If you run your own business, or are an entrepreneur, innovator or leader, and want the time and space to give your vision the creative attention it deserves, Being at the Cottage offers just that.

A ground-breaking solo retreat at a beautiful cottage in the woods near Abergavenny, it was set up by growth and performance coach Wilma Allan to help you develop your vision so that the perfect pieces of the puzzle show up at the right time, time after time.

As well as powerful one-to-one time with Wilma to help you find your Eureka! moment, long hikes, yoga and delicious locally-sourced, chef-prepared meals are available throughout your four- or seven-night retreat.

Find out more

Best for… an entertaining retreat: The Detox Barn, Suffolk

Run by Sharon and Lauretta Gavin, an established comedy double act called Gavin and Gavin, the sisters are serious about guests having a laugh on their retreat. Their monthly retreats, run over a long weekend at an elegantly converted barn near Stowmarket in rural Suffolk, are an ideal introduction to plant-based, whole foods eating, as well as offering plenty of yoga, country walks and meditation, all in a relaxing, homely environment. Expect an immune-boosting detox and a bunch of healthy new habits.

Find out more

Best for… secular meditation: Sharpham Trust, Devon

Whether you’re a curious, open-minded newbie or an old hand at meditation, Sharpham Trust runs a variety of mindfulness and meditation retreats in different venues on its 550-acre estate bordering the River Dart near Totnes.

Aimed at everyone from stressed out city dwellers to burnt-out caring and teaching professionals, from people living with emotional or physical pain to nature-starved people, the teachings are secular so you don’t need to subscribe to a particular belief system to benefit from the calming effects of mindful mediation.

Running for more than 30 years, the highly experienced retreat leaders are highly skilled at helping you apply mindfulness in your daily life, long after you’ve left the ‘retreat zone’.

Find out more

A recommendation from Girl About’s founder Lyndsey… Emmas Dale Retreats, Yorkshire

“Last year I was introduced to a lovely lady called Emma,” says Lyndsey. “She’s the founder of Emmas Dale Retreats in Yorkshire, where she hosts fully-catered experience-driven retreats within the Yorkshire Dales & beyond.

“Emma’s multi-day wellness retreats, which run for an average of three days, are all about learning new skills, being active, eating delicious food, taking time out, meeting like-minded people, and being inspired to be yourself. And having a gin and tonic if you so wish.

“There’s a number of retreats to choose from, which include activities such as forest bathing, yoga, stand up paddle boarding, alpaca walks, wilderness canoeing, mindfulness, meditation, Reiki and bushcraft.

“Evenings consist of relaxing in wood burning hot tubs and saunas, and BBQ dinners under the stars before retiring to a fully kitted out yurt for the night.

“I went along last year to try the forest bathing. It was heavenly! Forest bathing (no water involved) originates from Japan and is the practice of a process of relaxation known in Japan as shinrin-yoku.

“It’s simple but effective – I was encouraged to be calm and quiet among the trees, observing the nature around me while breathing deeply. It boosted my wellbeing in an incredibly natural way and really helped me de-stress. I’d really recommend it!”

Girl About Travel Club VIP Members can enjoy an exclusive 10% discount on Emmas Dale Retreats.


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