This is summer: Grown-up treats
When we think of activity holidays, we often think of children – but here is a selection of action adventures and relaxing pursuits strictly for adults only
Sunday 13 July 2008
Throw a Wedgwood pot in Staffordshire
Wedgwood Visitor Centre, Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST12 9ES (01782 282 986)
Daily (no workshop tours on Fridays or weekends).
Bespoke packages can be organised to suit you. The day described here costs £98, including lunch, tour and pot throwing, free entry for two years and a 10% discount on entry to nearby Trentham Gardens.
If you've always fancied yourself taking to the potter's wheel, here's the perfect opportunity to test your skills under the watchful eye of a master craftsman.
Book in for a day at the Wedgwood Visitor Centre and you'll get an insight into the famous china producer's history with a tour of the factory, taking in some rare museum pieces and watching the master potters at work.
Lunch is served in the pottery (on Wedgwood china, natch) and you'll then spend the afternoon modelling your very own Wedgwood pot or plate, which will be fired for you at the workshop and posted home to take pride of place on your mantelpiece.
Pump some adrenaline in Perthshire
The Four Seasons Hotel, St Fillans, Perthshire PH6 2NF (01764 685 333)
Daily availability, bookable in advance.
From £120 per person including overnight stay, half a day canyoning, dinner at the hotel's restaurant and breakfast.
The Four Seasons Hotel, perched on the banks of Loch Earn, has just announced its new 'Walk on the Wildside' packages, aimed at anyone in need of an adrenaline rush.
One-day adventures with qualified instructors include beginners' lessons in white water rafting on the River Tay, while confident rafters can attempt the more challenging descents, taking in a double-drop waterfall on the River Tummel.
Those aiming to reach even dizzier heights can have a go at canyoning which, for the unenlightened, means jumping from rock ledges, sliding down rocks and abseiling from nearby peaks.
And when you're not busy risking life and limb, you can walk and fish on the banks of the loch, eat well in one of the two excellent restaurants, or enjoy a well-earned dram or two in the Wee Bar.
Cruise the Cotswolds in a classic car
Hotel on the Park, 38 Evesham Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 2AH (01242 518898)
Daily, according to availability.
£272.50 per person per night, based on two sharing, including hire of the Morgan, hamper, champagne and breakfast.
Feel the wind in your hair as you explore England's largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty behind the wheel of a Morgan Plus 4 open-top sports car. You can book this dashing hand-built vehicle as part of a one-night package at the 4 star Hotel on the Park, set in the heart of the Cotswolds – and there's a picnic hamper and bottle of champagne thrown in for good measure.
Back at the hotel, huge whirlpool baths, fluffy bathrobes, tranquil gardens and an award-winning brasserie combine to make this a truly decadent experience.
True vintage car buffs should stop off at the Cotswold Motor Museum (01451 821255; www.cotswold-motor-museum.co.uk) in nearby Bourton on the Water, home to 30 classic vehicles.
Make your own wineand cheese in Surrey
Denbies Wine Estate, London Road, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6AA (01306 876616)
£85 per person, including lunch, refreshments, a bottle of Denbies wine and a slab of Norbury Blue.
Forget the Côtes du Rhône – head for the rolling hills of Dorking and get a taste of England's best-selling vintage at Denbies Estate, home of the largest vineyard in the country. This year it has launched a new initiative to tickle the taste buds: exclusive wine- and cheese-making days.
Spend the morning with a local traditional cheese-maker, cutting the curds and whey and loading the moulds as you assist in creating the perfect Norbury Blue.
After lunch at one of the two restaurants, you'll head for the winery, with plenty of opportunities to test your palate and watch the bottling, labelling and filtering processes. The estate's wine connoisseur will be on hand, ready to spill the secrets of good wine blending, and you'll finish the day by creating your own unique English vintage.
Take the Orient Express to the Dartmouth Royal Regatta
The Northern Belle to Dartmouth departs from Birmingham, Bristol and Doncaster (0845 0772222)
29th August. The Orient Express runs similar day excursions to various destinations in the UK throughout the summer.
From £295 per person for travel, brunch, luxury coach to and from the Regatta, four course dinner, champagne and wine.
Don your glad rags for a day aboard the Northern Belle, travelling to see one of the country's most prestigious boating events – the Royal Regatta at Dartmouth – and a great opportunity to experience the glamour of the Orient Express without leaving the UK.
The day begins with brunch and Bellinis before settling back in your splendid carriage and soaking up the ambience. Disembark near Dartmouth, from where you'll be whisked off to see both modern and historical vessels race along the River Dart, as well as a series of aerial displays.
Then it's back on board for chilled champagne and later a sumptious four-course evening meal.
Fish 'n' spa in Lincolnshire
Poachers Hideaway, Flintwood Farm, Belchford, Horncastle, Lincolnshire LN9 5QN (01507 533555)
Daily, subject to availability.
A 'spirit package' costs £240 per person per night, based on two sharing a cottage. A selection of treatments includes a full Swedish body massage, reiki sessions, Indian head massages and holistic facials.
www.poachershideaway.com or www.citybreaks.org.uk
Escape to an anglers' retreat and enjoy some pampering in true tranquility with a spa therapy break at the Poachers Hideaway near Louth. This little gem offers an unusual mix of trout fishing, Swedish body massages and meadow walks – relax in the hot tub or jacuzzi, have an Indian head massage or take an escorted walk or fishing trip.
There are 170 acres of private woodland, wildflower pastures, hedgerows and water meadows to roam in, and keen anglers can settle down on the banks of nearby lakesand fish for trout and carp (angling tackle supplied).
Paint a picture in Cornwall
St Ives School of Painting Porthmeor Studios, Back Road West, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1NG (01736 797180)
Two- and three-day courses, including life drawing, are being held throughout August with drop-ins daily.
Day course £40.
Express yourself in glorious watercolour at a painting workshop in St Ives, Cornwall. Based at the centre of this artists' colony, the School of Painting attracts creative types from across the country, offering friendly short courses for all abilities, from novice dabblers to experienced painters. With one-to-one guidance from local artists, you'll soon know your acrylic from your aquatint, and there's plenty to inspire your creativity – the spacious studios are around the corner from the Tate Gallery and the Hepworth Museum.
The School, whose courses include a beginners' one-day workshop on the basics of watercolour painting, provides all materials. There are also drop-in life classes and print workshops during the week.
Do some good in the Mersey Forest
These projects are offered in the Formby Hills, Ainsdale and the Sefton Coast. Contact BTCV at Sedum House, Mallard Way, Doncaster DN4 8DB (01302 388 883)
Weekends throughout July, August and September.
£100 for two days (excluding accommodation).
Hot off the press from the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV): summer volunteering mini-breaks in the forested areas of Mersey and north Cheshire. The real treat here is that you'll be helping to protect both the environment and endangered wildlife, including the red squirrel and the natterjack toad, in the process.
Get digging, planting, fencing, clearing pathways and generally doing good work to counteract environmental damage and coastal erosion. All the projects are led by a BTCV manager in small groups, with tools and water provided. You'll be needed for two days at a time, so check into the Malmaison hotel to recharge your batteries (0845 3654247; www.malmaison-liverpool.com).
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