To complement our recent blog on Rural Retreats in the UK here we are specifically focusing on retreats in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or ANOB, to use the acronym. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are designated to protect these areas of particular natural beauty including conserving both the rural landscape and the lives of those who live and work in them.
In these spaces characterised by peaceful pathways, sweeping downs, wild meadows and ancient woodlands we can find a sense of tranquillity and be at one with nature. Lovely at any time of the year, our ancient countryside comes alive in summer with trees and flowers in full bloom.
Here at Neal’s Yard Holidays, we love to indulge our senses in one of our relaxing retreats in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where the surroundings and the restorative treatments, food and environment provide the perfect combination to help you fully unwind. These retreats in truly outstanding and sensory-rich destinations offer meditation, yoga, earthing (*see below), all with delicious locally-sourced food to nourish us inside and out.
Here’s our selection of wonderful retreats in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty:
The secluded retreat on the Gower Peninsula is surrounded by acres of private land and ancient forest not far from the unspoilt coast where seals can be spotted. This peninsula is a haven of rich and varied wildlife, castles, medieval churches set against an awe-inspiring, natural backdrop of hills, valleys, beaches and woodland. (See also photo at top of blog, copyright USp/Neal’s Yard Holidays.)
The combination of yoga and Ayurveda allows you to completely unwind and relax with optional detox and juice-fasting. In between treatments and yoga sessions you can go for walks in the forest of dwarf oaks on the private grounds, filled with bluebells in May, or bliss out in the infra-red sauna and outdoor hot tub (ideal for star-gazing).
Three nights from £570 for a single ensuite room, full board including Ayurveda treatments and yoga. Available anytime, choose midweek or weekend.
Claridge House is a Victorian mansion in Lingfield close to the Surrey Hills with a long-standing reputation as a healing centre. The midweek or weekend retreats offer either yoga, mindfulness, meditation, Tai Chi or creative arts. Well-known sites include Box Hill, Leith Hill and the Devil’s Punch Bowl and landscapes with open commons, sunken lanes and picture-perfect villages.
Two-night retreats from £220pp sharing room, full board, including retreat activities. Massage treatments are available for a separate fee. Open year-round, choose from selected retreat dates and themes.
Holycombe retreat is set in a wooded valley on the edge of the Cotswold village of Whichford, surrounded by fairytale villages lined with honey-coloured stone cottages, rare limestone grassland habitat and ancient beechwoods with rich flora. Important grasslands such as Cleeve Hill have survived due to their status as ancient common and a National Nature Reserve protects the finest ancient beech complex. Idyllic natural features include a stream rising from a holy well in the nearby wood.
Practice morning breath work, yoga and meditation with Rina Golan, followed by a silent walk, soaking up the serenity of this wonderful part of the UK. Holistic treatments are also available.
Two nights from £295 twin share in the Lodge; or £345 in the main house, single supplement of £100. The price includes daily yoga sessions, guided meditations, woodland walks, organic food, healthy shakes, and lifestyle and nutritional advice. Treatments extra. Select dates through the year include 15-17 June.
Within easy reach of one of the original Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Exmoor National Park and the Dark Sky Reserve, Holworthy Farm sits on the edge of Wimbleball Lake where ‘True Nature’ hosts wellbeing retreats close to spectacular coastal views, deep wooded valleys, high sea cliffs and famous sites such as the Quantock Hills. Stay in refurbished cottages and practice daily yoga. Wellbeing workshops include singing bowl baths and shibashi (Tai Chi / Qigong), plus *earthing (sometimes called grounding and explained in this article by the Chopra Centre), which harnesses the age-old old power of the earth to improve health.
Two nights from £249 twin share; single room supplement £10. The price includes full board with vegetarian food and retreat activities. Treatments extra. Next dates: 27-29 July 2018. There are also selected day-retreats throughout summer and autumn.
For more retreats set in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty see the collection on our website.
We hope you found these destinations inspiring and helped you to choose your next retreat!
Jo Fernandez is a leading UK travel journalist, with much of her career spent working for the London Evening Standard where she was Travel Editor until 2015. Now a freelance travel journalist and copywriter, she lives in Essex and has one daughter. As a travel expert, she still enjoys jetting off to write travel pieces, with favourite destinations including Mexico, Croatia and, of course, Essex.
Updated 20 June 2018.