Five of the best “wellness” retreats

Go kayaking in Cornwall, run on the beach in Devon and practise yoga in Suffolk. Alice Feilden reports.

Meditative walks by the River Dart

Sharpham House on the banks of the River Dart in Devon is the perfect base for a walking retreat, says Ellie Smith in Country & Town House. Retreats in the Grade I-listed Georgian mansion offer “a more active trip” than some other wellness getaways. There is a daily seven- to eight-mile walk through beautiful countryside, though much of this is very hilly and the organisers specify that you’ll need “good fitness levels” to keep up. The “breathtaking scenery” and “periods of silence” help retreatants develop “appreciation and respect for the natural world” during their stay. The Devon escape also offers “guided meditations and relaxation sessions” and you’ll be “treated to delicious vegetarian food”, from local and sustainable sources. The cost of a four-night full-board stay starts at around £395 per person (sharphamtrust.org).

A blast of sea air in Devon

Mercedes Sieff of Yeotown fitness retreat © Karen Yeomans

Yeotown’s fitness retreat isn’t all about relaxing, as hosts yoga teacher Mercedes Sieff and surfer Simon Sieff will have you “working hard”, says Condé Nast Traveller. The “five-day health and fitness escape” in north Devon focuses on “state of mind just as much as that of the body” and most guests drop between three and five pounds over their five-day stay. Guests are encouraged to relax by swapping “planning and scheduling” for “meditation to work on clearing the mind and cultivating a cheerier outlook on life”. Bracing coastal hikes are high on the agenda, as are runs on the beach and taking yoga-inspired fitness classes. The days conclude with “muscle-melting massage” and sauna sessions, and the menu is “exceptionally good”, offering delights such as broccoli, orange and ginger Yeotini and spring green pea soup. The five-day programme costs between £1,950 and £3,500 per person, all inclusive (yeotown.com).

Rewild and master inner calm

Thera-Sea rewilding retreat © 

Enter “another world” at Thera-Sea’s rewilding retreat, cut off “from real life as well as from the main electrical grid”, says Sian Lewis in The Independent. Run by Katy Griffin, a trained mental health nurse, the course teaches participants how to “rewild and master inner calm”, treating stress and anxiety with what Griffin calls the “six pillars of lifestyle medicine”: physical activity, relaxation, purpose, sleep, nutrition and relationships. On the activity side, that means kayaking, swimming yoga and nutrition, as well as cultivating mindfulness through foraging and bushcraft. The retreat is run from a 300-year-old cottage on the banks of the saltwater river Fal near Newquay, Cornwall. The sea feels “a constant presence here”, whether you’re “in the water for twice-daily dips, practising yoga on the shore or kayaking in the estuary”. Visitors soon enter “a slower, more appreciative state of content-ment”. Prices for two nights start from £315 (thera-sea.co.uk).

Yurt-based Pilates in the Somerset countryside

Toga at Our Retreat in Somerset © PETER BOOTON PHOTOGRAPHY

Enjoy “yoga, fitness, mindfulness and plenty of time to chill out by the fire” at Our Retreat in Somerset, says Rosie Fitzmaurice in the Evening Standard. A weekend away there includes “restorative yin yoga classes”, breath work lessons and “sound healing sessions”, which use aspects of music to improve physical and emotional health, all in the beauty of a “secluded farmhouse surrounded by 42 acres of serene Somerset countryside”. Our Retreat, which was founded by Lisa Carolan, also offers yurt-based Pilates and Barre classes, wellness workshops and woodland walks. Chefs prepare a nourishing plant-based menu each evening and days end with a communal chat around the dinner table. The retreat is currently open for bookings after March 2021. Prices start from £595 per person for a two-night stay (ourretreat.co.uk).

Yoga and smoothies with a comedy double act

The Detox Barn in Suffolk ©

The Detox Barn in Suffolk offers a “gentle” retreat with “immune system-boosting juice and smoothie demonstrations and healthy meals”, says Caroline Sylger Jones in The Guardian. Based in “a stylish converted barn” in the town of Stowmarket, the retreat offers a mix of “yoga, meditation, country walks and time to chill” and helps visitors feel “a whole lot better” and to recharge batteries away from the demands of daily life. The lessons on healthy living are given in a “supportive, friendly setting” and, because both owners – who happen to be sisters – are a comedy double act, “you’ll have a laugh” during your stay too. According to the retreat website, the sisters offer healthy living advice “without being hippy-dippy tree-huggers”. A two-night stay for two at the Barn starts at £395 per person and is currently available for future bookings (thedetoxbarn.co.uk).

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