A woman wild swimming

If you’re looking for a break with a difference in 2024, why not try an active retreat?

Mixing a relaxing holiday with fresh air, exercise, and mindfulness is a great way to recharge and refresh. And there are ample opportunities for staycations offering just this.

From yoga and wild swimming to sailing and forest bathing, the UK has beautiful countryside nurturing your physical and mental health.

Here are just five active break destinations you might choose.

1. Mind Over Mountains hill walking, the Peak District

The charity Mind Over Mountains offers regular weekend retreats that incorporate hill walks in beautiful surroundings alongside mindfulness, meditation, and access to one-on-one time with professional counsellors.

With dormitory accommodation, Zoom check-ins before and after, and hill walks with mindfulness stop-offs, you’ll be looking after your mental health while getting plenty of exercise.

The charity organises retreats in Wales – Snowdonia and Denbighshire – as well as in the Lake District and the Peak District.

In the latter, you’ll have the opportunity to take in the hilltop at Musden Low, riverside walks along the Hamps and Manifold, to Ilam, famous for its jagged rock formation that stands 25 metres high.

With limited group sizes, you’ll have time to relax, take stock, and speak one-on-one to counsellors only if you choose.

A two-night stay in Dovedale in March costs £320, with other retreats available later in the year.

2. The Rewilding, Lancashire

The Rewilding offers seasonal retreats amid 220 acres of family farmland near Morecambe Bay in Lancashire.

Accommodation includes converted barns, cottages, and wood cabins, with guided meditations during the day and communal meals each evening.

Activities include nature walks, wild swimming, and cold water therapy, with seasonal activities focusing on, among other things, awakening your senses, discovering midsummer folklore, and autumnal foraging.

You could find yourself engaging in a poetry or clay workshop, dancing barefoot around the maypole, or handcrafting with leather.

This incredible opportunity to meet new people, learn a skill, and get out into nature costs around £420 for a three-day, two-night stay, although check the website for details of activities and retreats on offer.

3. Forest Retreats, Tintern, Monmouthshire

For a relaxing retreat incorporating poetry, yoga, and forest bathing, head to the 15-acre family-run Hill Farm in Tintern, Monmouthshire.

Alongside yoga and forest bathing, there will be plenty of time to enjoy the wood-fired eco-spa, with its hot tub, sauna, and plunge pool.

Then use the inspiration of your beautiful surroundings to write and share your favourite poems around the campfire at night. From May, a new women-only retreat will feature former Hampshire poet laureate Kathryn Bevis.

You’ll find plenty of accommodation options, from bell tents and yurts to rooms in the farmhouse. Alternatively, bring your own tent or campervan.

Visit Forest Retreats for more details or read Shinrin Yoku: How forest bathing could improve your physical and mental health to discover more about the rising popularity of this Japanese practice.

4. Wild Hebridean Swimming, Mull and Iona

If you’re planning to head further afield, try the beautiful Hebridean Islands of Scotland’s Hebridean islands. Wild Hebridean Swimming began life in 2022 and is run by swimming coach Emma MacDonald. The perfect break for experienced wild and open water swimmers, there are retreats available for less confident swimmers too.

Experience the clear, if bracing, water of the Inner Hebrides, with its kelp forests and picturesque waterfalls. And be sure to keep an eye out for seals too.

You can enjoy a short dip or organise a longer swim, before returning to Achaban House. Here, relax in the wood-fired hot tub or indulge in a massage or yoga.

The trip also includes a guided walk on Iona, where Macbeth is buried, alongside 47 other Scottish kings.

Prices for a three-night stay start at around £895, which includes all meals and wine.

5. Reclaim Yourself yoga retreat, near Bath

Reclaim Yourself Retreats offers yoga retreats and the chance to explore extraordinary places. Retreat destinations include Finland, Switzerland, Japan, and Bhutan.

Closer to home, you might opt for a summer retreat in a “secret” woodland near Bath.

The programme offers five yoga classes with time in between for walking and swimming in the nearby hills and lake. There’s also a sauna to enjoy, and evenings spent relaxing around the campfire.

Communal meals are taken in the Treeshack, which has warm showers and compost toilets. Accommodation options, meanwhile, include cabins, yurts, shepherd’s huts and a cob roundhouse, each with a wood-burning stove. There’s also room for tents if you’d like to bring your own roof with you.

A three-night break near Bath will cost around £425 but be sure to check out the website for the full list of far-flung yoga adventures.