1 Dig a well
There’s nothing more fulfilling than giving something back – and digging a well can help an entire community by protecting them against waterborne diseases. The manual labour is also oddly enjoyable if your normal 9-5 involves a lot of indoor screen time. Sri Lanka is a good option, and charities such as The Water Project offer a variety of destinations where you can assist the sixth of humanity that lacks access to safe water.
2 Learn to hula hoop
Very few people will have tried this since childhood, but hula-hooping — which started as a fad in Australia during the Fifties — has come back into fashion in Sydney gyms, where it combines being extremely fun with being an incredibly good, core-blasting exercise regime. And these dance-style classes where you can unleash your inner kid have now reached the UK too, with the likes of hulafit.com offering hip-and-hoop entertainment galore.
3 Cobble something together
There’s nothing more satisfying than crafting something from scratch — so how about making the very surfaces we stand on? Cobbling is an art as old as roads themselves, and the Greystoke Cycle Café in Penrith, Cumbria, runs day-long courses in this old skill. It’s a peaceful process in which you’ll learn about hard landscaping and traditional techniques — as well as enjoying a cream tea.
4 Go off grid in Northern Scotland
It’s hard to have a proper mental break when it’s possible to check Twitter every 10 minutes. Time away from all forms of media is hard to come by, but companies such as hostunusual.com are now offering mains-electric-free holiday options across the UK, with the likes of Aberdeenshire bothies proving popular. The range of venues forces you to go device-free — meaning you may rediscover the art of observing your surroundings.
5 Dive with seals
Most people think of the Great Barrier Reef when it comes to diving with animals, but it’s also perfectly possible in the UK, and the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, are the perfect place to observe the stunning native grey seal colony. Companies such as farneislanddivers.co.uk offer undersea odysseys in this protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where around shipwrecks and outcrops you can come face-to-face with these beautiful, gentle beasts.
6 Go oyster hunting
Why sit on a canal side with a fishing rod when you could go oyster hunting? The Bedruthan Hotel and Spa on the Cornish coast offers a sustainable and adventurous way to stack up on delicacies for your dinner: parties head out to the Camel Estuary, and walk along the tide lines with a local oysterman. You’ll then take your booty back to the hotel for a demonstration of how best to cook up these treats. Enjoy them afterwards in the restaurant overlooking the coast.
7 Make your own chair
Combining the restorative qualities of sleeping in the wild with the joys of making something yourself, Crafty Camping in Dorset offers taster woodwork courses, after which you can rest up in a lovely tipi, yurt or hut. The sustainable carpentry course is particularly alluring: two days of intensive classes that culminate in making a chair from a tree. See canopyandstars.co.uk to find out more.