Fiona Arrigo recognises that every now and then some of us just need to stop, unwind and take a frank look at our lives. With this in mind, she will tuck you up in a cottage in Somerset, complete with log fire, and tailor make a retreat for you and possibly a partner. Therapists, flowers, customised nutrition plans and fitness experts are all on hand to bring body and soul together and get you back on your feet ready for any challenges you might face.
Best for: Letting go
Find out more: www.thearrigoprogramme.com
Over half a million books line the shelves of Baggin’s Bookshop in Rochester. As England’s largest secondhand bookstore, and with just about every topic covered, it is the ideal place to stock up on research material for a new interest. With out-of-print and rare books also available, it’s a haven for book collectors as well.
Best for: Book lovers wanting to turn over a new leaf
Find out more: www.bagginsbooks.co.uk
Thom Hunt’s wonderfully intriguing Lost Cottage is nestled among thick oaks in Cornwall. It's an idyllic location for a weekend course in foraging, knife skills, shooting and Canadian canoeing. Learn how to make a fire, catch, prepare and cook your meals while keeping warm under the stars in the heart of the stunning countryside. It won’t be all work, though. During the weekend, you also can relax in the hammock village and sample real Cornish ale by the fire in the bar.
Best for: Getting in touch with your wild side
Find out more: www.7thrise.co.uk
This sacred site in Canada is home to over 900 petroglyphs known as "The Teaching Rocks." The collection, which is the largest concentration of aboriginal rock carvings in Canada, contains depictions of snakes, birds and turtles. Other decipherable shapes include shamans, solar symbols and geometric shapes. Marvel at the mystery surrounding the carvings — some images don’t reflect the items used by the Native American people at the time the carvings were made.
Best for: Mystery lovers and history buffs
Find out more: www.ontarioparks.com
Crossing glacial gaps always sounds like something best left to the Bear Grylls and Sir Ranulphs of the world, but there are a great number of guided treks for folks from all walks of life across many of Europe’s most glorious glaciers. The Eiger Trek starts in Interlaken and follows a weeklong route, taking you beneath the north face of the Eiger and through high-altitude terrain as you traverse the Oberland range. You’ll need a basic level of fitness and be able to carry a 30-pound backpack, but you’ll be rewarded with an immense sense of satisfaction and a few impressive stories to tell.
Best for: Those searching for a very big adventure
Find out more: www.mountaintracks.co.uk
Silence, we’re told, is golden. For the ultimate retreat, why not head to South Devon and spend some time with just your thoughts? Gaia House is a silent meditation retreat centre set among peaceful woodlands in the Devonshire countryside. Personal retreats can range in length from two days to three months. The silence can aid meditation and help you gain a greater understanding of yourself.
Best for: A bit of peace and quiet
Find out more: www.gaiahouse.co.uk
With increasingly busy schedules, it’s often hard to find time to improve fitness or take a vacation. Wild Fitness has found the ideal solution — a fitness break. You can spend nine days on the beautiful island of Zanzibar taking part in workshops, fitness classes and training sessions that will kick start your fitness regimen and give you all the information to continue your new healthy lifestyle when you get home.
Best for: An all natural work out
Find out more: www.wildfitness.com
Learn the art of horsemanship by spending time in the company of gentle giants — Clydesdales. Adventure Clydesdale in Devon offers 1–2 days of trail riding across dramatic Dartmoor in south-west England. Spend hours riding across rugged moorland on the sure-footed horses and learn how to care for them. It's a scenic and physically challenging break, but you’re sure to fall in love with your four-legged companions.
Best for: Animal lovers and free thinkers
Find out more: www.adventureclydesdale.com
Learn a language and develop your skiing skills at the same time with Cactus Languages. If you’ve tried to learn a language before, you know that sometimes the best way is to be among people speaking the language and to try to use it yourself. The Cactus courses combine classes with activities — a typical day would involve a group class in the morning, leaving your afternoon free to indulge in your new, or old, hobby.
Best for: Winter sports enthusiasts and wordsmiths
Find out more: www.cactuslanguage.com
If running 122 miles in 6 days sounds like your idea of heaven, then this Scottish break could be just the thing for you. The run starts in the south of Scotland and finishes in Spey Bay in the north. On the way, you’ll see the Angus Glens, the Balmoral Estate, the Cairngorms and many beautiful lochs, historic landmarks and coastal views. You’ll need to train in advance, as the minimum fitness levels require you to be able to complete a marathon in around 4 hours, 15 minutes.
Best for: Those who want to run the world
Find out more: www.runningthehighlands.com
The Shambhala Mountain centre is set in a stunning 600-acre valley, high in the Colorado Rockies. For over 40 years, it has provided a safe and tranquil venue for people to experience personal transformations and reach a deeper sense of awareness within themselves. The centre offers over 100 self-improvement programmes throughout the year, including Shambhala Training – a meditation discipline that develops confidence, openness and gentleness.
Best for: Getting to know yourself as well as others
Find out more: www.shambhalamountain.org
Founded in 1673, the Chelsea Physic Garden was originally intended to be used to train students to identify plants and learn about their medicinal qualities. In time, it became one of the most important gardens in the world in terms of botany and plant exchange. Today, the garden still educates visitors of all ages on various aspects of plant life, and there are free scheduled talks and classes available. The gardens themselves hold over 5,000 varieties of plants all in order of classification, so you can learn the various botanical names and see the relationships between species.
Best for: Green-fingered fans looking to grow
Find out more: www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk
Set in one of the most biologically diverse areas of Costa Rica, this yoga and surfing break is ideal for ecologically conscious people looking to reconnect body and mind. The farm is working toward a sustainable way of life and uses solar energy and composting toilets, while also harvesting rain and spring water and growing its own fruit and vegetables. During your stay, you can take part in daily yoga classes and enjoy home-cooked meals (mostly vegetarian). The nearest phone and Internet facilities are a two-hour walk away.
Best for: Regaining a sense of balance
Find out more: www.yogafarmcostarica.org
As well as the usual luxury facilities you can expect from a spa, the Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary in Thailand offers a calm and serene Sleep Enhancement Escape. The package includes a consultation followed by specialised acupuncture, a body analysis, traditional massage, herbal remedies, detoxifying juices and much more. The package includes full use of the spa’s plunge pools, steam rooms and fitnesscentre. This ultimate in relaxing breaks is set on the spectacular island of Koh Samui and its surroundings.
Best for: A well-deserved rest
Find out more: www.kamalaya.com