This new women-only skateboarding retreat lets you live out your teenage dreams

I slam my left foot down on the tail end of the skateboard, jolting the nose into the air.

My right foot – clad in Vans Classic Slip-Ons, natch – scrapes along to meet the tip as the board levels out and, for one sweet moment, both board and I are suspended in mid-air.

Amazing! I just pulled off a real-life ollie (that’s a jump, to the uninitiated).

Thumping back down to earth, a wide grin breaks out across my face – the kind usually reserved for kids.

Via the magic of Instagram, I’ve found myself at an inner-city escape in South Yorkshire, aka The Skate Retreat, a secluded ‘secret garden’ just outside central Sheffield.

Aimed at women aged 18 and over, it’s the brainchild of women’s skate-scene pioneer Danielle Gallacher, 33.

Danielle, who has been skateboarding since her early twenties, created the retreat earlier this year alongside skater Zeta Rush, with the idea of hosting a women’s skating getaway in the Peak District.

When Covid-19 forced them to postpone the inaugural event, Danielle decided to open up her own private skate haven – complete with DIY mini-ramp, outdoor pizza oven and vegetable garden – and is now offering one- and two-day skateboarding workshops for ‘as long as the sun stays out’.

‘It’s something I’ve thought about for years,’ Danielle tells me when I arrive on a warm Saturday morning.

‘It’s a bit niche but many women are picking up skateboards. Having somewhere like this that’s run by women who know what it’s like to start skating at a later age, it’s a good time to do it – it’s not just for kids.’

True. This year, skateboarding just missed out on making its debut in the postponed Tokyo Olympics.

Significantly, there’s also been a rise in the number of full-time professional women skateboarders – the figure has doubled to 23 in the last decade.

As a teen, I was in love with skateboarding from the sidelines but even pop singer Avril Lavigne legitimising my entire youth aesthetic wasn’t enough to give me the confidence to rock up to my local, boy-populated skate park.

Fast-forward to my early thirties and I’ve found myself thinking ‘screw it’ a lot more.

So here I am, stood in front of Danielle’s ramp under a blue sky, surrounded by tomato plants, buzzing bees and the sound of wheels rolling up and down the ramp, about to begin my two-day basic ramp workshop aimed at beginners.

Midway through day two, I’ve spent the morning practising yesterday’s moves (how to ‘tic tac’, do ‘kick turns’ and ‘pump’) as well as taking some time to brush up on my ollie, before breaking for a late lunch of tasty, garden-to-table tomato soup and potato salad.

Despite aching from yesterday’s session, what’s really stood out for me is the space itself. Danielle’s spot is idyllic. You’re surrounded by flowers, lush greenery and even the occasional, friendly dog. Would anything have made it better?

Yes, a few more learners to vibe off and give me that extra oomph to get over my fear of ‘dropping in’ on the ramp.

Still, I finish my second day grateful for the grins, the bruises and Danielle’s exceptional patience (I’m not sure Vans is going to be sponsoring me just yet).

In short, if you’re a woman who fancied skateboarding as a kid but didn’t find a welcoming space in which to do so, The Skate Retreat is for you.

Your 13-year-old self will think you’re ‘pretty rad, dude’.

Oh, and will I be buying a board of my own? Hell, yeah!

Skating Glossary

Ollie: This entails using your back foot to smack the tail of your board against the ground while your front foot pulls the board up into the air.

Pumping: Flexing your legs at the right spot on a transition to build speed.

Tic tac: To pivot left and right on your back wheels, either to accelerate or to keep your balance when landing a trick off-centre, tic-ing and tac-ing your wheels to the ground.

Dropping in: Any obstacle where a skater can place their tail on the edge of said obstacle and lean forward to drop into a transition.

One-day workshop for up to three with lunch/and or dinner included, from £85pp, theskateretreat.com

Rooms at Kenwood Hall Hotel & Spa, Sheffield, from £45pn, kenwoodhall.co.uk

For more info on skating, visit girlskateuk.com

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