The opportunities for outward bound activities have accelerated in the UK in recent years. As a nation, we’re becoming more aware of the value found in getting back to nature, moving the body and having a break from screens. Whether on land or sea, there are so many opportunities to learn new skills, enhance your wellbeing and have fun. Here’s a round-up of some of the best places to stay – and play.
Watergate Bay, Cornwall
Cornwall excels for sea and surf facilities and Watergate Bay’s two miles of coastline provides the space and waves needed for some exhilarating experiences. The hotel has its own surf school providing kit and tuition. There’s also a pool for some swim or board technique practice and on-beach fitness sessions if you’d like to work up a sweat and smash your goals in the fresh air. Stay in a gorgeous room with stunning views and a roll-top bath and re-fuel with delectable meals from the hotel’s four restaurants.
The Torridon, Wester Ross, Highlands
This 18 room Highland escape is tucked away among some of Wester Ross’s most breathtaking scenery. Hire a kayak, canoe, bikes, go gorge scrambling, coasteering and try your hand at archery. Explore the brooding mountains climbing a Munro (led by an experienced guide) then take an inland adventure in a classic Morgan 4/4 car. Or for the ultimate in luxury expeditions, board a helicopter for a bird’s eye view of the region as a far as Inverness, returning to a neat landing on The Torridon’s front lawn. The hotel itself has an upscale modern style, with Victorian features, fabulous food and private ‘boathouse’ accommodation.
Kinloch Lodge, Sutherland, Highlands
Once the hunting home of the Duke of Sutherland, Kinloch Lodge in Sutherland is now available for exclusive hire. The lochside venue can cater for up to 14 people across seven rustic luxury bedrooms and guests can even arrive by chopper. Enjoy a hearty food offering served ‘family table’ style and created by the in-house chef. There are guided hikes, deer watching opportunities, idyllic wild swim spots, mountain bike trails and fishing waters all on the doorstep.
Crazy Bear Stadhampton, Oxfordshire
Set on a working farm in the English countryside, the hotel sports the decadent signature Crazy Bear style. There’s a Thai restaurant, Thai massage treatments and an exotic Eastern vibe to the sumptuously rich decor. Have a go at air rifle and air pistol shooting, archery, crossbows, axe and knife throwing, falconry, duck herding and take a segway ride. Tuition and group activities can be arranged, making the Crazy Bear ideal for a corporate gathering or family staycation.
Leeds Castle, Kent
Don’t be fooled by the name. This 900-year old castle is actually found in Kent, not Yorkshire. Visited by Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, you can enjoy a more modern and earthy stay by glamping. Follow the countryside trails and take a boat ride. Or cross the moat to stay in the medieval palace itself, spend some time on the golf course, and try a falconry taster at its Bird of Prey Centre. Kids can let off steam at the Knights’ Realm Playground and underground grotto and spend hours getting lost in the maze.
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Headland Hotel and Spa, Newquay
Stay in five-star Cornish finery on a clifftop overlooking Fistral Beach. At the Headland Hotel guests are accommodated in upscale cottages, some with hot tubs and all in gorgeous surrounds. The hotel is a treat for swimmers who can enjoy The Aqua Club – incorporating a heated edge outdoor pool as well as hydrotherapy and indoor state of the art pools. Or you can jump in the waves on the beach beneath, scuba dive, surf, paddleboard and take a leisurely stroll around the picturesque harbour.
Crieff Hydro, Perthshire
Crieff Hydro’s rural 900-acre backdrop is the setting for a kids’ adventure park, 9-hole golf course, archery, a driving school (Segways, quads, mini quads and quadpods), a riding centre, a tree-top zip wire course and plenty of mountain bike trails. And with a snug cafe at ‘Basecamp’, you can grab a bite to eat between these energetic pursuits. The hotel offers family and pet-friendly plush accommodation with fancy eateries and a sports bar on site.
Hudnall’s Hideout, Wye Valley
Take a romantic trip to the Wye Valley where you can sleep in a secluded, tech-free treehouse surrounded by private woodland. This cosy cabin provides a peaceful contrast to the adrenaline-filled activities nearby. Spend more heart-pumping time among the treetops at Go Ape, swim in the river, bike down the hills, gorge scramble, canoe, SUP, segway or get up close and personal with some birds of prey (along with a large padded glove).