My Nature Retreat in Wales
Travel Blogger Emily Luxton was a guest on our most recent Wild Wellness Retreat in Wales. In the following post, she’s shared her experiences of the weekend.
This post was originally published on EmilyLuxton.co.uk and was adapted for re-publishing here by the author.
My Nature Retreat in Wales – by Emily Luxton
The Wild Wellness Retreat from Adventure Tours UK sounded PERFECT for me. I’m terrible at slowing down and just relaxing, and find it really hard to switch off – especially from my job! So, four days of glamping in North Wales – on a small group tour packed with gentle activities like yoga and paddleboarding – sounded like just what I needed.
It was so nice to really slow down for a few days, to just reconnect with nature and focus on the simple things in life for a while.
What is the Wild Wellness Retreat?
The 3-night nature retreat is held on a lovely glamping site near Corwen, amidst the rolling hills of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB in North Wales.
There’s just something about the Dee Valley that makes it perfect for reconnecting and recharging. Stunningly beautiful, blissfully quiet… and simple. Ideal for getting away from it all.
We were staying at The Forge; a lovely, peaceful glamping site on the side of an ancient Iron Age Hillfort, surrounded by stunning countryside. Our luxury bell tents were fabulous. You get all the fun parts of camping, like the quiet sounds of nature soothing you to sleep at night, as well as all the comforts of home. Having a proper double bed with lots of cosy blankets was such a treat!
Most of the tents also have log burners to keep you nice and toasty at night. I was a last-minute extra booking, so I was in a temporary bell tent which didn’t have a burner – but I was still super warm thanks to all the thick blankets and hot water bottles provided by The Forge.
We arrived at the nature retreat in the late afternoon, a group of 9 people from all over the UK. Most of the other guests were also travelling solo – only two people had arrived together.
I still always get nervous before group trips, but it was a lovely group and we all clicked straight away. It was really nice to be meeting new people for the first time in forever, and sharing stories over our first dinner – a hearty, healthy (and delicious) stew.
Storytelling by the Campfire
The stories continued that night, when we headed up to the fire pit on top of the ancient Hillfort with Fiona.
Professional storyteller Fiona looked like a woodland goddess, with her long grey hair and lively eyes. She stood at the top of the hill and summoned us with a cry that echoed around the valley.
We assembled around the campfire carrying tin cups of red wine and sat for about an hour, listening to local legends and folk stories, all brilliantly and colourfully brought to life by Fiona. An expert in Welsh stories, she seemed to have an endless supply of material, and I think she’d have gone on spinning stories for us all night if we hadn’t given in to tiredness and headed to bed!
Waking up to fresh morning air and bright sunshine the next day, I already felt restored. The perfect headspace for our first yoga session.
Mid-morning, we headed outside with local yoga instructor Poppy Backshall. We were in the perfect spot for yoga; surrounded by the tranquil hills, with nothing but the sounds of birds and whispering long grass.
It feels like an age since I last did a yoga class, but Poppy was an amazing teacher. Most of us were beginners so she didn’t push us too hard, and it was a beautifully restorative session.
The sun came out to shine warmly on our faces during the long Savasana (lying on our backs, eyes closed, in corpse pose) at the end. More than one person drifted off, and a few quiet snores joined the peaceful sounds of nature!
Paddleboarding in Llangollen
That afternoon, we headed into the nearby town of Llangollen for the activity I was most excited about. Stand-up paddleboarding!
We met up with our guides Caz and Steph for a guided paddleboarding session. Most of the group were complete beginners, so we started from scratch. Luckily, Llangollen canal is absolutely perfect for a gentle, easy SUP session.
The waters were flat, calm, and low on traffic. The biggest vehicle we had to share the waterways with was the slow horse-drawn barge. It was a lot of fun to watch that go by!
We pootled lazily up and down the canal, with sunlight flickering between tree branches overhead. It was such a peaceful afternoon! Paddleboarding is brilliant for mindfulness, because you have to focus hard on your board, your posture, and the water, so there’s not much room for your mind to wander. It’s also just a lovely, calming activity.
Most of the group managed to stand up at least once during the session, thanks to the super calm water and our brilliant guides. I even managed to crack out a few imperfect, wobbly yoga poses on my board without falling in!
Enjoying the Simple Life
Our second full day was less active than the first, with a real focus on the “back to basics” simplicity of camping. Sometimes, slowing right down and taking some time to enjoy a simpler life proves to be just what you need.
After breakfast, we met up with Sheena – one of the owners of The Forge – for a foraging session around the campsite.
Foraging is a brilliant way to practice mindfulness. Outdoors in the wild, surrounded by the quiet sounds of nature, focusing on the different herbs and flowers around us… it felt like a really good way to centre and reconnect with the world.
We used everything we picked: brewing lemon balm, water mint and nettles into a tea, and making cordial from wild elderflower. It was such a lovely, wholesome morning!
Later the same day – after another amazing outdoor yoga session – Sheena also took us around her abundant kitchen garden. We gathered fresh salad and veg for our dinner, then cooked as a group around the campfire.
Fresh wild venison, shot by Sheena’s husband Jamie as part of a culling project, with crispy roast potatoes and salad, followed by homemade rhubarb fool. Almost all the ingredients were local, and freshly gathered by us, and everything tasted that much better for it.
The whole day was a real taste of the simple life. Slowing down and focusing on the world around us – and the journey of our food from the ground to our plates – was exactly what I needed.
Refreshed and Restored
On the final morning of our nature retreat, we packed up, had another delicious healthy breakfast, and said our goodbyes. Although it was only a short weekend, I genuinely felt a whole lot better both physically and mentally.
It was like a reset button had been pushed. A few days focusing on nature – and on my own wellbeing – had done me the world of good. Now if only I could bottle that feeling and take it with me into the working week!
Life can be so busy and chaotic sometimes – and so overloaded with information – that we lose touch with the simpler things.
Our nature retreat gave me a much-needed chance to reconnect with nature, the world, and the simple pleasures of nice views, good food, and great company.
Author: Emily Luxton of Emily Luxton Travels
Enjoy your own Wild Wellness Retreat in Wales
If Emily has inspired you to indulge in your own self-care, why not join our next Wild Wellness Retreat. Check out all the details and available dates. Whether you want to escape on your own or bring a friend, it’s the perfect escape from daily life to allow you to relax, reconnect and rewild your spirit.