WHEN you’re a high-powered and highly stressed executive (like me) sometimes you just need to take a power break.

It’s like a power nap. But longer. And at a spa hotel.

And even when you’re not a high-powered and highly stressed executive, it can be nice too.

I’ve had a stressful year. New big editor job, bought a house, had a baby, didn’t get married. That list is in reverse order.

First came not getting married. I wasn’t jilted at the alter. No one would leave a prize catch like me standing up there, obvs. I popped the question couple of years ago, and since then, we’ve been doing everything else other than get hitched.

We came close to deciding on a venue (with south of France being Her Ladyship's preferred location), very close, but, at the last minute, we got cold feet. Or rather the man holding the cheque pen and book (my father-in-law-to-be) got cold feet.

So, with our biological clocks ticking (I’m nearing 40 and, well, while I wouldn’t want to print my other half’s age, she won’t be a child bride) we decided we better get down to it. Nine months and two minutes later, we were three.

Chuck in moving house, sorting a mortgage and a career shift (have I mentioned my new high-powered job?) and you've got a pretty action packed 18 months.

So a couple of days at a spa hotel was just what the doctor ordered.

The Coniston is a stone's throw from East Lancs, just over the border near Skipton.

We dropped the little one off at my folks' in Bolton and headed straight up the A666.

Despite my best intentions of R&R, we were handed a jam-packed itinerary on arrival.

First up was clay pigeon shooting, something I've always fancied a bash at.

If and when we ever do get married, I always thought I'd fancy a hunting lodge and a spot of country sports for the stag trip, so this was a good chance to give it a whirl.

And it turns out, unsurprisingly, that I'm bloody good at it. Under the expert guidance of our tutor Alan, I hit my first seven, as my other half watched on in awe, having decided she didn't fancy it herself.

It would have been good to see her give it a shot, but even the sight of her holding a gun was enough to send a shiver down my spine.

She didn't fancy it on the day, even though Alan was at pains to stress that men are no better at this sport than women – ie. it's not a strength thing, it's all about coordination and accuracy.

Anyway, as the shots got tougher, I started to miss a few more, but I still came out with a highly respectable 19 out of 28.

Also on the activities agenda that day was a Land Rover off-road driving experience and a tour of the impressive grounds.

The off-road track was built by Land Rover a couple of decades ago to test their own vehicles. It's not a high-speed affair – the track is designed to show what the vehicles can do – and they can do a lot.

We drove up stone steps, through two feet of water, and finished off driving 2mph at a seemingly impossible angle of 42 degrees, convinced the car was going to tip over.

It was great fun. This was all rounded off with a highly relaxing couple of hours at the hotel's spa, which was just a two minute walk from our room.

We ate at both restaurants at the hotel – afternoon tea at the Huntsman’s Lodge and a cracking three course affair at Macleod’s.

The Coniston is a really impressive place. I had hoped my wife-to-be might be persuaded that we could get married somewhere like this, but alas no, she still has her heart set on France.

Nevertheless, this would make a great venue, and it's a great shout for a lads' weekend, a couple's retreat or a power break to recharge the batteries. It certainly did the trick for me.


The Coniston Hotel Country Estate and Spa is an award-winning hotel and country resort, located in Coniston Cold, near Skipton in North Yorkshire.

Set within 1,400 acres of Yorkshire Dales countryside, it has 71 bedrooms, two restaurants – The Huntsman’s Lodge and Macleod’s – and a luxury spa, which opened in 2015. Within the spa is its Nourish Restaurant.

A key feature of the Coniston's estate is its impressive range of outdoor activities. It has a CPSA Premier Plus shooting ground, a falconry centre, The Coniston 4x4 off-road experience and archery academy.

The Coniston is popular with corporates, attracting corporate events and team building sessions from clients across the UK and abroad.

To book visit www.theconistonhotel.com