From the Hebrides to Cornwall, Irene Caswell runs through some UK staycation ideas where you can learn a new skill – from beekeeping to surfing or even playing the fiddle.
After weeks of lockdown most of us are looking for an adventure. Relaxing on a sandy beach is simply not going to work the same restorative magic. With the world in various stages of release from lockdown it appears too, that UK staycation holidays are a more likely and sustainable travel option for the immediate future.
If you are dreaming of wide open spaces, magnificent vistas, seascapes and more, these short learning breaks offer the chance to ease yourself back into the world at large. Workshops are either one-to-one or in small groups, which will feel more manageable as a tentative post-pandemic break-out.
Here is our list of UK Staycation ideas to discover a new skill:
Bee Keeping Masterclass & Overnight Luxury Vineyard Stay
Take a one-day introductory course to beekeeping with Gwenyn Gruffydd. Gwenyn produces an Award Winning Single Origin Wildflower Welsh Honey from his smallholding where he lives with his wife, Angharad. The workshop will cover all of the essential information to gain the confidence to keep bees. Bee suits and gloves will be provided. The course runs from 10am to 3.30pm and includes refreshments and lunch.
Enjoy an overnight stay at nearby Jabajak, a family-run vineyard set in seven acres and located on the edge of the Bluestone Mountain range. Jabajak also houses a 5-star award winning restaurant with ensuite accommodation set within seven acres of tranquil grounds. The vineyard is located close to beaches and coastline walks. There are eight en-suite bedrooms are individually decorated. Book a cellar door tasting at the vineyard to round-off your stay.
Price £211.25 per person.Book the Bee Keeping Masterclass & Overnight Luxury Vineyard Stay through Discover Delicious Wales which provides support for independent Welsh food and drink producers.
Castaway Weekend on a Remote Scottish Island
Sail up the Kyles of Bute on a 43ft yacht. Guests will be able to spot marine mammals with the specialised maritime equipment onboard, learn seamanship skills and have the chance to sail the yacht. This part of the west coast of Scotland features isolated coves and uninhabited inlets to explore, as well as secluded beaches where you can spend the night under the stars around a warming camp fire. Visit uninhabited islands and learn coastal survival skills including foraging for wild edibles.
Sleep under the stars or spend a night in a castle. The return journey offers the thrill of speeding back to port in a high power speedboat. You need to be in good health to join this trip but no previous experience is required.
Price: from £500 per person. For more information visit www.muchbetteradventures.com.
Butchery and curing course
Maynard Farm owner Rob Cunningham will show you how to butcher a side of pork, learning where each joint of pork comes from and how best to use it, through demonstration and hands-on practical work. Make your own sausages and create a starter kit to produce your own dry cured bacon at home.
Cost £150 per person to include refreshments and lunch, and some bacon and sausages to take home. The Maynard Farm shop is one of Rick Stein’s Super Food Heroes. Book online for selected dates throughout the year or dates can be organised to suit on request.
The Tractor Shed is located in the grounds of Maynard’s Farm in Weston-under-Redcastle, Shropshire and sleeps four people. The property offers luxurious accommodation with an open plan living area and a floor-to-ceiling glass window providing plenty of natural light, and extensive views of the surrounding countryside.
Price for seven nights from £416. Book online.
Tresco Photography Break
Enjoy bespoke photography tuition amongst breath-taking vistas, expansive seascapes and showstopping sunsets of the remote island of Tresco off the Cornish coast. Landscape and wildlife photographer Ross Hoddinott takes groups of up to six people, from beginners to enthusiasts, to explore the rugged heathland of the north end of the island from 6 to 10 October.
Locations might include the sheltered sanctuary of the sub-tropical Abbey Garden and the pristine sands of Appletree Bay. There is also the possibility of an island hop over to neighbouring Bryher depending upon the weather and tides. Each day will include a dawn shoot, a daytime session and a sunset capture. You will be able to review and edit images under expert guidance. Ross Hoddinott is a multi award-winning photographer, author and conservationist.
The New Inn is a traditional island pub close to Tresco harbour and offering award-winning accommodation and food. Guests can enjoy access to Tresco Island Spa a few minutes’ stroll along the harbour front.
Price £995 per person including four nights’ accommodation, breakfast and three-course dinner at The New Inn each day, three days of photography tuition, boat trip to Bryher (weather dependent), entry to Tresco Island Spa and Tresco Abbey Garden, and Island transfers. To book contact the Island Office on 01720 422849 or email [email protected].
Learn to Surf in Cornwall
Reconnect with nature on a surfing weekend for beginner and intermediate learners on the Cornish coast. The sessions will cover everything from the basics to the pro skills, and will be tailored to individual levels.
Accommodation is provided with an overnight camping experience in a private camp in the Cornish woodland beneath the stars. From £159 per person including experienced and certified surf instructors, one-night’s accommodation in luxury bell tents, surfing and camping equipment and a hearty camp breakfast.
Learn the Scottish Fiddle
Spend time at a Scottish castle with Mark Mitchell, a local expert fiddler. Learn to play the Scottish fiddle and discover Reels, Jigs and Strathspeys in a one-on-one beginner’s introduction workshop at Glenapp Castle, Ayrshire. The use of a fiddle is included and you will be presented with a Scottish Fiddle Certificate personalised by Mark at the end of the session.
Glenapp Castle Ayrshire is an award-winning five star hotel in Ayrshire. Enjoy the seascapes that surround that castle with a remarkable view of the volcanic outcrop of Ailsa Craig. There are 36 acres of gardens and woodlands, as well as the surrounding woodland and open countryside, to explore. Facilities include an all weather tennis court and croquet lawn. The castle provides transfers to Pebbles Spa close by along the coast.
The ‘Learn the Scottish Fiddle’ break includes: two nights in a Garden View Suite; Full Traditional Scottish Breakfast; Gourmet three-course dinner each evening; and two hours morning and afternoon with a private beginners fiddle lesson. Price from £175 per person per night in a twin or double room.
Navigation course holiday in the Lake District
Brush up on your map and compass skills in the magnificent scenery of the Lake District and learn to navigate safely and confidently. Despite GPS technology which will be discussed and demonstrated, traditional map and compass skills remain an integral part of safe hill walking. These independent hill walking courses are aimed at beginners or those who would like to brush up their skills.
Hassness Country House is an authentic lakeland retreat ideally situated at Buttermere with direct access to the fells. Price from £299 per person for four days and includes: meals (except Tuesdays and 10 November); tuition and use of necessary maps and equipment throughout; and an assessment for an award (optional) at the end of the NNAS courses.
These UK staycation ideas are run by independent providers so you will also be supporting local communities. All workshops and breaks are subject to the UK Government’s guidelines for coming out of lockdown.