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Five active retreats

Soak up nature in these no-experience-required retreats from skateboarding camp to polar exploration

Adventures – big or small – have been a long time coming, and boy have we missed travel. Paperbacks and pina coladas aside, though, this year we’re drawn to the concept of wellness travel – which is, essentially, ditching your phone and spending a few days attempting to ‘improve’ yourself while getting stuck into an outdoor activity.

If you, too, have got annual leave on your side and a desire to spend some quality time with nature, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve rounded up the five most unique, fun and active retreats to reboot with this year, from skateboarding in the forest to polar exploration. Big trip energy, activated.

Skateboard in the forest

If the thought of rocking up to your local skate park fills you with that intoxicating combination of embarrassment and teen angst, just know there’s another way to learn how to skateboard. A much, much more fun way. The Skate Retreat is the sister company of Girl Skate UK and is Europe’s first luxury skateboarding retreat for women, trans, non binary skaters, and their allies. There are different retreats depending on your level and budget – but whichever week you choose, you can expect to spend two nights glamping in the Norfolk woods complete with skateboarding tuition and workshops, delicious meals, great company and just a lovely outdoorsy time.

What: The Skate Retreat: Learn To Skate 
When: October 2022
Cost: From £150pp for camping accommodation to £595 for the luxurious glamping pods

Take part in a polar expedition 

Yes, you read that right. If you’ve always thought you had a polar expedition in you, but the thought of base camps, acclimatising and the huge time commitment has well and truly put you off – this mini three-day polar journey is for you. Setting out from Oslo, you’ll explore, trek, eat and sleep on the Hardangervidda arctic-alpine plateau, the largest in Europe reaching up to 1200m altitude. 

You’ll pack and pull a pulk, walk in snowshoes or skis, practice winter navigation and avalanche skills as well as sleep in winter tents. Not for the faint hearted, the conditions and weather are tough but the payoff – frozen lakes, the Northern Lights, a chance to get as far away as possible from civilisation as possible, and a huge sense of accomplishment – is pretty epic. 

What: Exped Adventure: Micro Hardangervidda 
When: Weekly from January to April 2022
Cost: £495

Try out triathlon in Cheshire

One of the biggest obstacles to taking up triathlon is how logistically complicated it can be to swim, run and cycle near home. It’s the thought of plunging into your local canal/river/sea and hoping that your bike and trainers are still there when you emerge soaking  a little later that puts most of us off (as well as our personal lack of talent at any of the three sports). The Farm Club in Pickmere, near Cheshire is a dedicated retreat that has everything in one place. There are coaches and classes to learn how to swim outdoors, perfect your running and cycling, or nail your overall triathlon form from just £5 a day. You and four others can rent the two bedroom eco-home on the 300 acre farm, plus there’s trails and a track to run on, a vast lake to swim in, as well as cycling routes, exercise bikes, a yoga studio and more.

What: The Farm Club
When: All year round
Cost: Stays approx £260 per night

Rock climb in Oregon

She Moves Mountains runs outdoor retreats just for women (cis and trans) and gender minorities. This year it will host four day rock climbing and yoga retreats in Smith Rock State Park, about three hours south east of Portland, Oregon USA. As well as three seven hour climbing sessions – absolute beginners totally welcome – and all the rock climbing gear, you’ll enjoy 90 minute outdoor yoga classes each afternoon, all meals, beer, wine, accommodation, happy hours and after dinner campfires with your fellow climbers. Plus some pretty epic scenery in a very special state park. All you need to provide is your own flights/transport. 

What: She Moves Mountains: Rockclimbing Retreat
When: April and September 2022
Cost: $1750

Learn to surf in Ireland

Located at the wild Atlantic north west of Ireland, Donegal has some of Ireland’s very best beaches and – importantly – the best waves too. In Narosa’s week-long surf camp, you’ll have six coaching sessions, alongside carve skateboarding, surf fitness, hikes and even some beach yoga or paddle boarding, too, if you fancy. To stay, you’ve got the pick of loads of great options in the beautiful neighbouring town of Dunfanaghy. Narosa itself has glamping pods, an apartment and tiny house available. We also recommend Arnolds Hotel right in the town for its proximity to the pubs (head to Patsy Dan’s for homemade pizza, live music and a roaring fire) plus the riding school next door which offers epic horse rides on the beach. Or just a five minute drive along the coast you’ll get to the Shandon Hotel – best for incredible views, spa and a little luxury after a hard day’s surfing. 

What: Narosa: Surf Experience Week
When:  04 –11 June 22
Cost: €455 for seven days