How to hunt with a hawk or join a husky race

Daniel Butler suggests a range of decidedly different gifts: country courses for fresh-air enthusiasts

Finding a present for an outdoorsy friend or family member tends to be either ludicrously easy or impossibly difficult. Sometimes, a hip flask, pair of binoculars or hand-warmer hits the spot perfectly, but more often than not, the rambler, rider or bird-watcher already has every conceivable piece of state-of-the-art equipment he or she could possibly need.

For those still racking their brains as the final days to Christmas tick by, an activity break could be the answer. There are thousands on offer, with the best providing not only exercise and fresh air, but entertainment and education.

Fly fishing on one of Britain's premier rivers offers a therapeutic break. The Arundell Arms Hotel (01566 784666) in Devon runs two- and four-day salmon and trout fishing courses for beginners on its 20 miles of water. Prices start at pounds 270 for the four-day session, while weekends cost pounds 150 (accommodation is extra, at pounds 79 for a single room and pounds 144 for a double).

For those wanting to relive the romance of a medieval hunting scene, Leonard and Diana Durman-Walter (01450 860666) run falconry holidays on the Scottish borders. During late summer there's grouse hawking with peregrines (pounds 360 for four or five days), while on a more modest level, a day's rabbit or pheasant hunting costs pounds 65. If you fancy learning about the finer points of the 4,000-year-old sport, a six-day course on how to train, fly and hunt a hawk starts at pounds 330. All prices include board and lodging.

Less interventionist raptor enthusiasts may prefer the wild article, with a kite-watching holiday in the Cambrian mountains. A guided weekend in mid-Wales with Richard Knight (01597 811169) starts at pounds 122 (including board and lodging in a local hotel), while a week's introduction to moorland ecology costs up to pounds 422. Special breaks geared around children are also available to coincide with school holidays.

For those wanting to have something to show at the end of their break, Will and Lottie O'Leary (01547 528792) run stone-carving weekends from their home on Offa's Dyke. Starting with an introduction to the tools and techniques of stone-carving, guests design and sculpt their own objects, usually as ornaments for the garden. Past successes have included a full- sized head of a Greek god, a life-size sheep, and ornamental house names. The long weekend (Friday to Sunday) costs pounds 140 and includes all tools, materials, lunch, tea and coffee, but accommodation is extra (B&B is pounds 17.50 a night in the neighbouring pub).

Thrill-seekers may prefer an introduction to husky racing in Northamptonshire with John and Penny Evans (01604 686281). Up to six people at a time (clients are advised to recruit their own groups) begin the day with breakfast and an introduction to the dogs and equipment. After lunch, guests are allowed to take the reins themselves, driving a team of dogs on trails through a local forest. Weather permitting, a sledge is used but British winters being what they are, a wheeled rig is more usual - the price: a bargain, is pounds 35 a head.

Cheaper holidays are available from the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (01491 839766). Participants are expected to donate their labour to construct paths, clear undergrowth, dredge ditches, rework dry-stone walls and lay hedges.

Prices, which cover accommodation (this can be very basic) and food, begin at about pounds 20 for a weekend and pounds 32 for a week - a bargain when you consider the self-satisfied glow of altruism you take home at the end.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
News
i100
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin