By Susan Radcliffe
There are plenty of places in the UK where you can take a break from life. Every part of the country has spas and country house hotels, but if you want something more out of your trip you could choose a spiritual retreat. There are properties run by many different religious groups and according to different belief systems, and most are open to visitors of any faith. Here is a selection from around the UK.
Cowfold Road, Coolham, West Sussex, England RH13 8QL
This retreat offers a place for peace and reflection. It’s owned by the Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, but it’s open to all faiths and those of none. The Edwardian country house has lovely period features like wooden beams and paneling and there’s accommodation for couples or individuals in the bedrooms, which are decorated in a warm and simple way. There’s no programme to follow and you can choose to eat in silence in the dining room, or in conversation with other guests, in the conservatory. Quiet time can also be had in the chapel or the well-stocked library. Outside, there’s a lake and 20 acres of gardens, woodlands and meadows, where you can find a secluded spot for contemplation or bird watching, as this is a designated UK nature area.
Bryncoch Farm, Gower, Swansea, Wales SA2 7LB
This is a retreat for Ayurveda, yoga and cleansing. The daily programme includes an Ayurvedic bodywork session, yoga and meditation instruction, healthy Ayurvedic meals and cooking demonstrations, with produce coming from the organic garden. You can take a walk in the 23 acre grounds or soothe away your stress in the hot tub and sauna. The accommodation is 4 star bed and breakfast standard. There are 4 bedrooms, which can be double or twin, and extra beds can be put in to accommodate families. There’s also a play area for children.
Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Scotland FK19 8PQ
This is a Buddhist retreat located within the Trossachs National Park, on the shores of Loch Voil. You can explore the waterfalls and woodlands in its 16 acres of grounds. A wide range of programmes are on offer along with introductory meditation teaching, including Yoga, hill walking, Tai Chi, Arts and Alternative therapies. There are also more advanced meditation courses. The accommodation in the farmhouse is a little basic, but you would choose this place to appreciate the beauty of the surrounding nature and to concentrate on your inner life.
Launde Abbey, East Norton, Leicester, England LE7 9XB
This is an Anglican-run retreat and you can attend the liturgies in the Abbey’s beautiful 12th century chapel. It is, however, open to anyone who wants to go on a spiritual journey. The retreat is set in 450 acres of parkland and has a Victorian walled garden where much of the food for guests is grown. There are 45 bedrooms in the main house, parts of which date back to the 16th century. It’s filled with historic features, fireplaces and antiques. There are several different courses to choose from, including individually guided retreats where you take part in personal reflection along with daily sessions with a spiritual guide, or other courses which include activities such as painting, prayer or discussion groups.
Susan Radcliffe is a British writer and TV researcher, with connections to several towns and cities around the UK. She has Northern Irish ancestry and was born in Scotland. She then lived in York and Sheffield before settling in London. She loves to travel and to explore the many beautiful places around the UK and abroad. She enjoys sharing her discoveries and being able to recommend hotels and accommodation, sights and attractions to other visitors. She currently writes for sletoH.com, a price comparison site where you can book UK hotels as well as hotels in several other countries.