Be at your best in 2024

The winter months can take their toll on body and mind. Dark mornings, wild weather and cold temperatures are enough to drive even the most ardent of outdoors enthusiasts back inside.  

But the benefits of getting out into nature in winter are well worth wrapping up for. Spending time in green space has been shown to boost your mood, reduce feelings of stress and even improve your physical wellbeing.

So from forest bathing to fresh sea air, we’ve rounded up some of the very best breaks to help you tap into the benefits of nature (yes, even in winter!) as we head into 2024.

Bathe in nature at Glenapp Castle

Originating in Japan, forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku is a mindfulness practice that emerged in the 1980s as an antidote to the pressures of city life. It can be as simple as going for a stroll in any natural area and mindfully connecting to your surroundings.

And where better to immerse yourself in the forest than the verdant landscape of Glenapp Castle? Bounded by gardens, woodland, and sea, this secluded spot offers a wealth of spectacular natural scenery to soak up.  

You can participate in an organised forest-bathing experience, which includes guided meditation and mindfulness techniques deep in the woodland areas of the estate.

Or, for something less structured, simply venture outside. Breathe in the fresh sea air, take a long leisurely walk through the grounds, or tuck into some of the nourishing, wholesome seasonal produce harvested from the castle’s kitchen garden.

And to make it even easier to reflect, recharge, and reconnect, this month our featured offer is a Woodland Wellness Break at Glenapp Castle.

Book your break here and start looking forward to a peaceful start to the new year. 

Seek out a secluded woodland spa at Fonab

Set in the heart of Big Tree Country, Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa offers plenty of ways to reconnect with nature – and yourself.

For a bracing hike, make for the majestic Ben Vrackie. This beautiful mountain towers over the pretty town of Pitlochry, offering the promise of soul-restoring views for those who ascend to its summit.

Or, to take things at a slower pace, explore the shores of lovely Loch Dunmore, a tranquil nearby loch with a boathouse and timber footbridge. The gentle walking trail around the loch is the perfect place for a stroll – just remember to pack your camera.

After a day filled with adventure, the Woodland Spa at Fonab is your reward. Seek out a treatment like their Drift Away Massage and sink into a blissful reverie, or simply simmer in the outdoor hot tub as you admire the view.

Let there be light at The Isle of Eriska

Looking for a winter boost? Experience uplifting unspoilt beauty and seclusion at the Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa and Island. Just a few miles north of Oban, this baronial hotel is uniquely situated on its own island.

Here, you can explore the local wildlife trails winding through ancient woodland and hillside. Seals are often spotted on the island’s shores, as are sea birds. Inland, you’ll find roe deer, red deer and badgers. If you’re very lucky, you might even spot a golden eagle soaring overhead.

After, head for the hotel spa and blast away winter fatigue – and fine lines - with some LED therapy and ESPA products at the Light Salon. This powerful combined treatment harnesses the power of light to boost your mood – and your skin.

Nothing’s surer: you’ll leave all aglow.

Feast on fresh air and fine food at Cringletie

You’ll find acres of nature to enjoy at Cringletie near Peebles.

First, make tracks for Cardrona Forest. This lovely woodland haven spreads over the hills to the south of the Tweed Valley and offers views to Glentress. There are plenty of pleasant trails weaving through the woodland, taking in larch, spruce and pine trees – and the site of an Iron Age fort at Castle Knowe.

Back at base, there’s plenty to explore, starting with the carefully cultivated walled garden that dates to 1666. Admire the ancient yew hedges, see what’s growing in the kitchen garden, or, if the weather allows, enjoy a game of boules or outdoor chess.

Once you’ve feasted on nature, you should still have plenty of room for dinner – and we strongly recommend making a reservation for the seasonal menu on offer at Cringletie.

Served up by award-winning head chef Iain Gourlay, the seven or nine-course menu offers immaculately presented dishes with a fine dining feel. Naturally, it’s all delicious.

Take a bracing beach walk at The Machrie

Set amid rolling dunes on the beautiful island of Islay, The Machrie’s fresh, windswept location is enough to blast away any seasonal malaise.

A seven-mile stretch of beach offers wonderful walks on golden sands, with the rush of the waves as your soundtrack and the cleansing sea air your tonic. Or, if you prefer to add a little challenge to your walk, why not incorporate a game of golf on their recently modernised course?

Back at the hotel, you can sequester yourself in one of two treatment rooms and enjoy a healing massage or treatment. The Ishga products on offer incorporate the natural antioxidant effects of Hebridean seaweed – which feels very apt after a day on the beach.

Information correct at time of publication.