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27 Sept 2022

7 hobby holidays that will transform your life

7 hobby holidays that will transform your life

If the mercury is anything to go by, summer shows no sign of ending. But even though the weather is throwing our calendar into confusion, the upcoming start of the academic year means new beginnings are reliably forecast.

And it’s not only children who are getting ready to knuckle down and study.

Proof adults are still eager to learn, there’s been a steady rise of interest in hobby holidays. Whether it’s bread baking, tile decorating or horse riding, grown-ups are realising it’s never too late to add a new string to your bow.

Suitable for total beginners or rusty pros seeking a refresh, there are hundreds of hobby holidays to choose from. Turn a relaxing getaway into an educational journey with these skill-enhancing breaks…

Wildlife filming in the Cairngorms, Scotland

It takes skill, dedication and great patience to become a wildlife filmmaker. Anyone inspired by episodes of Springwatch or David Attenborough documentaries can hone their camera craft at a five-night guided videography workshop in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

Based at Ballintean Mountain Lodge in the Cairngorms, students will be taught a range of techniques including macro, timelapse and long lens filming, as well as the editing process. There’s also a chance to see how camera traps work and have a play with drones. Enchanting subjects include badgers, pine martens and red squirrels.

How: From £1,695pp (two sharing), including all meals, guiding, transfers and videography tuition. Dates TBC in June 2023. Visit wildlifeworldwide.com

Food fermentation in Cornwall

Once every banana bread recipe had been exhausted, baking sourdough became a lockdown obsession. Those who missed out on the trend – or never quite mastered it – can finally get the doughy 101 on a two-night Something’s Bubbling break focusing on fermentation.

Create a sourdough starter (and keep it thriving), discover how to produce pickles and kimchi through lacto-fermentation, and come away with a recipe for making a Cornish amazake – a Japanese drink made from fermented rice with local strawberries.

How: From £245pp (two sharing), including half board at The Merchants Manor. Available until November 30, 2022 (Thurs/Fri). Visit merchantsmanor.com

Bread baking in Co Down, Northern Ireland

The smell of freshly baked buttermilk Irish Bannock greets guests arriving at Tracey’s Farmhouse Kitchen. Once a pot of tea has been brewed, aprons are worn in preparation for an in-depth baking session. Learn how to make a variety of traditional of breads including soda, wheaten and potato (or fadge, as it’s locally known). Once the cooking has been done, sit back and admire views across Strangford Lough.

How: Individual experiences from £50pp. Group experiences are also available. Two-night stays in a cottage on-site (sleeps four) from £240. For more information visit traceysfarmhousekitchen.com

Mosaic tile painting in the Douro, Portugal

From train station facades to restaurant interiors, azulejo tiles symbolize the spirit of Portugal. For centuries, craftsmen have painted the intricate designs, often featuring scenes of everyday life. Discover their techniques on a themed Secrets of the Douro cruise through the country’s famous port producing region. Led by a local expert, guests will craft their own clay tile to take home as a souvenir.

How: Emerald Cruises offer an eight-day cruise from £2,128 for a couple. The round trip departs Porto on November 5, 2022. Flights extra. Visit emeraldcruises.co.uk

Alpine climbing in Valtellina, Italy

No previous experience is needed for this adventurous group trip, promising to reconnect body and mind with nature. Try your hand at rope climbing and bouldering, while admiring dramatic scenery in the centre of the Alpine arc, close to the border with Switzerland. Rest tired limbs overnight in a mountain hut and rise early for Hatha yoga sessions to stretch out well-worked muscles. Gushing waterfalls and sparkling lakes create the perfect environment for contemplation.

How: Slow Adventure offers a four-day Art of Climbing & Yoga trip from £794pp (two sharing). Departs September 14, 2022. Flights extra. Visit slow-adventure.com

Horse riding in Andalusia, Spain

In southern Spain, horses have always been much more than a mode of transport; they are a source of national pride. Even if you’ve never been in the saddle, it’s possible to master the basics on a trip with equestrian specialists Saddle Travel, who run tours at a 16th century hacienda in Andalusia.

The riding itinerary is flexible and can be adapted to suit guests – with trots to local bars, or an energetic canter to nearby bodegas. There are 30 horses to choose from, suitable for beginners right through to advanced riders who might want to brush up on an old skill.

How: A four-night full board trip costs from £539pp (two sharing), including up to four rides per day. Flights to Malaga are extra. Visit saddletravel.com

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