Want to hold on to the last throes of summer? Enjoy a fresh-air escape while learning a new activity on these outdoor fitness and adventure retreats in the UK…

There’s nothing like late summer to make you appreciate the beauty of the British countryside. As sultry days give way to mellow sunshine and fresher mornings, it’s the perfect time to get outdoors and try a new activity or skill.

Want to turn your hikes or bike rides into an adventure but not sure how? Fancy learning a sport such as paddleboarding or trail running? We’ve tracked down a collection of the best outdoor activity, fitness and adventure retreats in the UK that will turn you into a pro in no time…

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woman practicing yoga at cornish wave yoga surf retreat

1. Ride the waves: Cornish Wave Surf & Yoga Retreat

  • What: Cornish Wave Surf & Yoga Retreat
  • Where: Newquay, Cornwall
  • Cost: Weekend (Sat-Sun), £189
  • Website: cornishwave.com

Always dreamt of learning to surf? You’ll soon be catching a wave on this friendly, back-to-nature camping weekend. First, hit the beach in Newquay for expert surf lessons, tailored to your level. Then it’s back to the private, woodland campsite to stretch out with restorative yoga, then enjoy a campfire BBQ before snuggling up in a cosy bell tent. Wake up to energising morning yoga, followed by more fun and tuition in the waves.

Sisters in the Wild Introduction to Bikepacking Weekend

2. Girls-only adventure: Sisters in the Wild Introduction to Bikepacking Weekend

  • What: Sisters in the Wild Introduction to Bikepacking Weekend
  • Where: South Downs, Sussex.
  • Cost: Weekend (Fri-Sun), £210 (£95 subsidies)
  • Website: sistersinthewild.com

Got a bike and sleeping bag? Then you’re ready to join all-girl collective, Sisters in the Wild, for a beginner’s bikepacking weekend. This fun, two-night adventure begins with a communal dinner, sharing tips and skills. Next morning, you’ll load up your bike (kit is provided) and head out to ride the hilly, dirt tracks of the South Downs (around 25 miles a day), and explore off-road terrain before rolling into camp for a night under the stars. Expect lots of cheerleading and cake!

Sisters in the Wild Introduction to Bikepacking WeekendREVIEW: A Sisters in the Wild Introduction to Bikepacking Weekend

A Sisters in the Wild Introduction to Bikepacking Weekend in the Peak District gave Rolls Royce engine fitter Alex Phipps confidence to plan her own bike trip…

‘I wanted to plan my own multi-day bike adventure so I thought doing a Sisters in the Wild beginner’s weekend would be a great way to learn. I ride to socialise and get out in nature but I liked the idea of doing an adventure using my own steam. Everyone was really welcoming and friendly, a whole range of ages and fitness levels. After dinner the first night, Charlotte (founder of Sisters in the Wild) laid out the kit she uses and we all asked questions.

‘The next morning, we had a relaxed breakfast, then packed up our bikes and set off on a 40K ride through the Peak District with great views and a 500m climb. We had some rain and hail along the way, plus some chunkier gravel tracks, so arrived at the campsite feeling like we’d had a real adventure, battling through weather and hilly terrain! We gathered round the campfire and tested out cooking stoves, then drank tea into the night. Getting back on the bike the next day and feeling those aches and pains was challenging but, once we got going, I was fine.

‘We cycled past Mam Tor, then took the steep downhill back to the hostel at our own pace with everyone cheering each other in. By the end of the weekend, I felt proud of myself and more confident. My friend and I have now booked to go bikepacking in Devon for four nights. My main advice is just do it! The kit matters but jumping on your bike and getting out there enjoying yourself is the best way to learn what you need.’

For more info, visit sistersinthewild.com

3. Canoe & camp with Canoe Trails

3. Canoe & camp with Canoe Trails

  • What: Canoe Trails Canoe & Camp
  • Where: Bedford, Bedfordshire
  • Cost: Book a 1 or 2-Night Camp, from £129 per person
  • Website: canoetrail.co.uk

Get 20 per cent off Canoe Trails camping til end of 2023 season with the code ‘WOMENSFITNESS22’.

Spend a magical weekend with friends or family, canoecamping. After bankside tuition (no canoeing experience needed), you’ll pack provisions in a canoe or kayak and explore the River Great Ouse, spotting wildlife, including turtles, along the way. Moor up for the night at Canoe Trails’ private, woodland campsite complete with campfire and compost toilets. Make it easy by booking the luggage service and hiring a tipi tent.

Complete Navigation Skills course

4. Conquer mountains: Complete Navigation Skills course

  • What: Complete Navigation Skills course
  • Where: Plas Y Brenin, Snowdownia
  • Cost: Weekend course, £343 (residential), £241 (non-residential)
  • Website: plasybrenin.co.uk

Want to hike with confidence and plan your own routes? Gain the navigation skills you need to venture safely off the beaten track, with this highly-acclaimed weekend course at National Outdoor Centre, Plas Y Brenin. Spending two days out in the hills and mountains of Snowdonia, you’ll learn how to find your way in any weather – day or night – using a map, compass and concepts such as pacing, bearings and contours. You’ll never feel lost again!

way of the wild running retreat

5. Run wild: Way of the Runner Trail Running Retreat

  • What: Way of the Runner Trail Running Retreat
  • Where: Dartmoor, Devon
  • Cost: Weekend (Fri-Sun), £600 sharing twin room
  • Price: thewayoftherunner.com

Explore the rugged landscapes of Dartmoor while improving your trail-running technique in the company of record-breaking, ultra-marathon runner Damian Hall. The Way of The Runner Retreat includes five guided runs (including a night run), plus trail-technique sessions and workouts with movement coach, Joe Kelly.

In the evenings, enjoy fireside chats and Q&As with your experts and host Adharanand Finn, author of Running with Kenyans (Faber & Faber, £9.99). Refuel on delicious food and enjoy luxurious accommodation at The Great Barn, Blackadon Farm.

wandering Wild Journey

6. Rewild yourself: Wandering Wild Journey

  • What: Wandering Wild Journey
  • Where: Dartmoor, Devon
  • Cost: Three-day journey (Sat-Mon), £300
  • Website: wanderingwild.co.uk

Immerse yourself in the wild beauty of Dartmoor on a three-day, nature-connection journey. Led by coach and nature guide Henriette Lofstrom, you’ll walk (carrying your own pack) in mindful silence, pausing for reflection, guided meditations and wild swimming. Watch the sunset, then share your experiences with fellow wanderers over vegan campfire food, under huge, starry skies. As you venture deeper into Dartmoor, discover your own inner nature.

gutsy girls river wye outdoor fitness retreat

7. Get on board: Gutsy Girls River Wye SUP Expedition

  • What: Gutsy Girls River Wye SUP Expedition
  • Where: Wye Valley, Welsh Borders
  • Cost: Two-night, three-day adventure, £459
  • Website: gutsygirls.co.uk

Learn to paddleboard while exploring the beautiful River Wye with a fun, all-female crew. Carrying your kit on board, you’ll head downstream through stunning scenery, pausing to wild swim and enjoy the wildlife. Along the way, Gutsy Girls’ friendly instructors build your skills from scratch, giving you the skills to paddle in confidence. You’ll pitch up at campsites along the river, enjoying campfire meals and one dinner out.

Wild Human Autumn Wild Food Forager Course

8. Survive in the woods: Wild Human Autumn Wild Food Forager Course

  • What: Wild Human Autumn Wild Food Forager Course
  • Where: Lake District
  • Cost: Two-day course (Fri-Sun), £295
  • Website: wildhuman.com

Fancy yourself as a female Bear Grylls? Go wild in the woods for a weekend with top bushcraft experts and discover how to raid autumn’s wild-food larder. You’ll wander the woodland with a foraging basket, learning about wild food and harvesting berries, nuts, seeds, fruit and mushrooms. Discover how to prepare and roast wild game (vegetarians be warned!), make wild beverages, fruit crumbles, soups and terrines. You’ll cook and dine over a crackling campfire, before bedding down in a comfy tent.

mammut mountain school outdoor fitness retreats

9. Hit the trail: Mammut Mountain School Wild Camping Course

  • What: Mammut Mountain School Wild Camping Course
  • Where: Lake District
  • Cost: 2-day Open Group Course £506 (cost shared with up to four people)
  • Website: mammutmountainschool.co.uk

Want to go wild camping but not sure how? Join this overnight adventure and you’ll journey high into the mountains to a remote camping location for a night in the wild, under the expert guidance of a top outdoor instructor. Book onto a group course or organise a bespoke course. Along the way, you’ll learn heaps of skills including how to pack your backpack, read a map and camp responsibly, leaving no trace.

Slow Adventure Sailing & Wild Yoga

10. Sail away: Slow Adventure Sailing & Wild Yoga

  • What: Slow Adventure Sailing & Wild Yoga
  • Where: Lochaber, Scottish Highlands
  • Cost: Five-day/four-night trip, £1,360
  • Website: slow-adventure.com

Float away on a sailing and wild yoga voyage along the West Coast of Scotland. Joining experienced skipper and outdoor yogi, Celia, on her cosy yacht, you’ll sail to perfect spots in secluded bays. Along the way, you’ll learn to hoist the sale and steer the course under Celia’s expert sailing tuition. Then hop ashore to explore the coastline and enjoy wild yoga with practitioners of Indian and Chinese yoga (who sail with you). You’ll return with new sailing skills and love of the sea.

breath and nature immersion outdoor adventure fitness retreats scotland

11. Master your breath: Five-Day Breath and Nature Immersion in Scotland

  • What: Five-Day Breath and Nature Immersion in Scotland
  • Where: Cairngorms National Park, Scotland
  • Cost: Long-weekend course (Thurs-Mon), £910
  • Website: basubu.com

Learn a new superpower – how to empower your body using your breath – on a nature-immersion course in the Scottish wilderness. Over five days, you’ll reconnect to your breath and nature through meditation, visualisation, specialist breathwork and mindful outdoor activities. Lose your inhibitions walking barefoot through the forest, release stress hiking through the national park and revitalise with cold-water dips. The venue is surrounded by forests, mountains and rivers, and provides nourishing paleo meals.


12. Cycle and spa: Careys Manor & SensSpa Cycling Break

  • What: Careys Manor & SensSpa Cycling Break
  • Where: New Forest, Hampshire
  • Cost: Cost: Overnight stay £240
  • Website: careysmanor.com

Want to try your first cycling trip or get back on your bike after a break? This peaceful New Forest cycle and spa stay is made for you. Jump on one of the hotel’s bikes, download the route map and head out to discover more than 100 miles of marked cycle routes through ancient woodlands and picturesque villages, enjoying a Careys Manor picnic along the way. Then ease your cycle legs in the hotel’s award-winning SenSpa.

Click here for WF editor Sarah Sellens’s review of her active trip to Another Place, The Lake, in the heart of the Lake District!

Words: Mary Comber | Lead Image: cornishwave.com