The best residential staycation training courses in the UK

Learn about birds, bees… and pottery: Britain’s best residential staycation training courses, with many taught amid stunning scenery

  • Songwriters can perfect their art on a five-night course in the Scottish Highlands
  • The Field Studies Council offers three-day courses in natural history from £180
  • Painters can brush up their skills at the Norfolk Painting School near Tattersett 

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday idea, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: where to learn a new skill on a staycation.

Want to come home from holiday with more than sunny snaps and a tan? Then check in to one of the relaxed residential training courses that are slowly reopening their doors around the country. 

There you’ll find tutors who can coach you in poetry, pottery and everything in between. Better still many courses are taught amid some of our most stunning scenery. Here are a few to consider.

On course: Discover the art of the graphic novel on a residential training break

Poetry is in the air in the three glorious country houses in Shropshire, Yorkshire and Devon managed by writers’ charity Arvon.

It’s aiming to restart residential courses in the autumn, and a popular choice is the four-day Poetry Short Course next held in November in Lumb Bank, an 18th Century mill-owners’ house in West Yorkshire that once belonged to poet laureate Ted Hughes. Single rooms with food and tuition start at £560 ( 

Songwriters can perfect their art in the highlands of Scotland where a short transfer from Inverness takes you to Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre. There are 14 bedrooms at the centre and classes are taught in a former croft. The five-night Songs In The Key Of Life course costs £625 (

Learn about the world and its wildlife in a natural history course with educational charity The Field Studies Council. Its next set of topics cover everything from bees to bats. Three-day courses are taught in dozens of locations including Georgian mansion Orielton in Pembrokeshire or the stunning Nettlecombe Court in Somerset. Short courses start at £180. The Council also offers retreats focusing on skills from book-binding to glass-making ( 

Painters can brush up their skills at the Norfolk Painting School near the village of Tattersett, where spacious studios and small group lessons are perfectly suited for the social-distancing age. Three-day courses cost from £399, and there are stylish rooms and a self-catering cottage at The Dabbling Duck pub in nearby Great Massingham ( 

Storytellers thrive in the Welsh valleys and you can learn from the best at the National Writing Centre of Wales. Classes are taught in a 15th Century house, once the home of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George. It’s a modest building with six bedrooms (but two libraries) and most courses run from Mondays to Fridays.

The Field Studies Council offers courses on natural history. Its next set of topics cover everything from bees to bats

The Field Studies Council offers courses on natural history. Its next set of topics cover everything from bees to bats

A new schedule being finalised should include courses for first-time authors and those writing for the young adult market. Prices from £550 ( 

Sculpting with wire, calligraphy, lino printing and collage are among the creative arts you can tackle as part of a two-day mini-break at the picture-perfect country pub The Bell in Ticehurst, East Sussex.

Or choose a break that combines country walks with creative writing. Courses cost about £95 and rooms at the inn start at £110 for B&B ( 

Pottery can be one to try on a short staycation – popular venues include Angels Farm Pottery in the New Forest and Vinegar Hill Pottery a little further south in Hampshire.

You’ll find details and information on courses across the country at Its database also has information on everything from leather-crafts to candle-making. 


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