Head to the Hills - A Mindful Retreat in Wales

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

In need of a post-lockdown break, Emily from Natural Britain headed for the hills of North Wales.

After months of homeschooling (the most successful lesson being map reading and compass skills) plus the summer holidays that went in a blur (what did happen to August?), a Wild Wilderness Retreat was the perfect post lockdown getaway.

I first met Claire, our host in North Wales, on a Zoom call way back during the first lockdown in spring. Back then every call would start with an advance apology of a 5 year old likely to join in and a lot of bribery with Smarties and TV to have an hour of undisturbed work time!

I was immediately in awe of the experiences Claire offers in North Wales, a real mix of adrenaline experiences (river bugging was a complete unknown to me!), culture, heritage and wildlife plus a more relaxed pace of walking and wellness. In a normal year, I would have been racing to do the Multi Active Mini Break however we all know this has not been a normal year!

I arrived at The Forge, based in the hills outside of Corwen, and felt an immediate sense of calm. This small glamping site has just five bell tents and they are simply divine. Each tent has a wood burner, comfy beds with plenty of blankets, a private deck, a kitchen plus its own private compost toilet - truly a loo with a view!

The first evening was spent enjoying a home-cooked meal with plenty of delicious local produce. As darkness fell we retreated to the campfire and were joined by a local storyteller. We heard local myths and legends told at a cadence that was mesmerising with Welsh words dotted into the story - it was hard not to feel fully relaxed!

After a great night's sleep and waking to a stunning view across the hills and distant mountains, we were treated to a hearty breakfast and our first yoga session. It was warm enough to roll our mats out on the grass with the sun on our faces, which helped relax us even further. Then more time to relax with a cup of herbal tea or explore the smallholding where The Forge is based.

In the afternoon we got a little more active with a few hours spent stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) on the Llangollen Canal. This beautiful stretch of canal winds through the hills outside Llangollen, it is also home to a horse-drawn barge which we had to give way to a couple of times! Paddling on these beautiful and tranquil waters is a wonderful way to relax, we all laid on our boards and floated for a while in silence.

Then back to The Forge for home-cooked pizzas and an early night….relaxing is tiring.

The final day was spent foraging around the grounds of The Forge and being shown the smallholding by owner Sheena. We then made our own hedgerow gin with the spoils of the foraging and a final yoga session.

As dinner approached, we went back to the cottage garden to pick our vegetables, Jamie (Sheena’s husband) arrived with fresh venison and we cooked our final meal over the campfire. Not wanting it to be over yet I laid on the deck and watched the incredible night sky that you can only get in the wilderness.

I was really impressed with this short tour - not least how sustainable the experience was. The Forge is a great example of how to do low impact glamping. Freshwater came from a barrel and the greywater used to water the 1000’s of saplings planted across the site, wood burners for the chilly evenings, composting toilets, solar lighting and chargers and gas stoves to boil the kettle! Meals were all sourced from local produce with a local chef creating recipes suitable for the season and just one short trip on a minibus to start the SUP journey.

Dates for the 2021 Wild Wilderness retreat will be coming soon.

If you are in need of a lockdown#2 escape then click here see Claire’s winter Mindful Walking Break. With departures in January, February and March these winter walking trips are led by a mindfulness coach - sounds like bliss!

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