If you haven’t quit smoking, cleared out the garage and gone to the gym yet you probably never will! Here are 10 New Year’s Resolutions that are easier to keep. Learn something new Take a break and pick up new skills as you go. From art classes to Scottish country dancing, Britain is a great destination for holidays where you can learn something new. Here are a few ideas to get you started. For more information check out the GoLearnTo website. • The Wedgwood Tour, Pottery Class and Lunch: Combine the heritage of Wedgwood with the chance to have some hands-on fun at the potter’s wheel. • Rick Stein’s Padstow Seafood School: At Rick Stein’s Padstow Seafood School you’ll learn about every aspect of seafood cookery. You’ll cover it all from filleting a plaice to stir-frying squid, braising brill to steaming sea bass. Save money on accommodation We’re all strapped for cash at this time of year. So if you’re planning a break you might want to consider some budget accommodation on your next UK holiday. These options are low on price not quality or character. • Smart City Hostel, Edinburgh: There was a time when youth hostels meant smelly sleeping bags and doing the washing up. No longer. The 5-star Smart City Hostel is modern, clean and cool with private rooms or dorms. The location in Edinburgh’s Old Town is hard to beat. • Camping, across the UK: It’s official, camping is cool again. It’s eco, cheap and a great way to get right into Britain’s finest bits of countryside. Find your perfect pitch with our Top 10 Camping spots. • St. Briavels Castle, Gloucestershire: Go medieval at this 13th-century castle, now a youth hostel offering budget accommodation in a genuine fortress in the lush Gloucestershire countryside. Spend more time in the garden The British are a nation of gardeners and we have some of the most beautiful in the world. Come in winter to see subtle colours, silvery trees and frost-clad lawns or in spring and summer for a riot of colour. Find out more about British gardens. Go green Trying to lower your carbon footprint in 2012? If you need some eco inspiration visit the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Wales, an entertaining and informative experience offering practical tips for sustainable living. Get back to nature Embrace Mother Nature with these outdoor activities: • Feed Red Kites, Mid Wales: See up to 400 of these majestic birds of prey swoop and circle before descending to feed just metres from the hides at Gigrin Red Kite Feeding Station. • Bushcraft, Lake District: Learn survival skills like fire making and shelter building with Woodsmoke then practise your new-found skills in the rugged Lake District. Spend more time in church The UK has some of the most beautiful and architecturally important churches in the world. Modernists will appreciate Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral while fans of the Norman should seek out Durham Cathedral. And if it’s the gothic that gets you going try Westminster Abbey in London or Canterbury Cathedral in Kent. Reduce your stress levels What could be better than a rejuvenating dose of pure relaxation? Detox, recharge and chill out at one of Britain’s top spas. Here are three of the best: • Bath Thermae Spa: Follow in the sandal-steps of Roman bathers at Britain’s only natural thermal spa, a place of relaxation for over 2,000 years. Don’t miss the gorgeous rooftop pool with views over honey-hued Bath. It’s great value, too. • Harrogate Turkish Baths: Take the plunge in this glorious Victorian spa decked out in colourful Turkish tiling. Under the huge vaulted ceiling you’ll find a large tiered hot chamber, a cold plunge pool, steam rooms and a relaxation area. • ESPA at Gleneagles Hotel: The Good Spa Guide describes ESPA as “possibly the best designed spa we've ever encountered” and we’d be inclined to agree. Everything from the décor to the music is just so. Choose from an array of treatments and leave transformed. Get fit the fun way Hide the PlayStation and book the kids onto an activity holiday. They might just thank you for it. Snowdonia National Park has mountainous terrain and offers everything from canoeing to rock-climbing. If you’re not sure what to try, iTry has great taster courses. You’ll find similar high-adrenaline fun in the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. Get away from it all If 2011 was too hectic why not escape for a while? Hole up in one of these splendidly isolated hotels to ponder the New Year in peace: • The Inn at Whitewell, Lancashire: The historic Inn at Whitewell tucked away in the Forest of Bowland has sublime views over a trout river and combines cosiness with class. • Hambleton Hall, Rutland: Overlooking Rutland Water in Britain’s smallest county, the luxury Hambleton Hall is a country house hotel with a Michelin star chef. • Glenuaig Lodge, Scottish Highlands: Glenuaig is a former Victorian hunting lodge sleeping 8 that’s secluded in the mountains. Your only neighbours will be red deer and eagles. Ditch the car and take the train Explore the UK by rail and discover the gentler way to travel. From coastal routes in Northern Ireland to heritage lines that snake through the Welsh mountains, you’ll find travelling by train the most scenic and romantic way to see the UK.
Top 10 ways to start the New Year in Britain
Thursday 29 December 2011