A couple of months ago I was kindly invited to the first wellness retreat at Hawkstone Hall ran by We Leap UK. At the start of this year I wrote a list of things I wanted to try and one of them was a wellness retreat on my own, so when I received the email I jumped at the opportunity!
Hawkstone Hall is a Grade I listed 18th century mansion that was recently purchased by its fourth owner after previously being a training centre for priests. The nearest train stations are Wem, Shrewsbury and Prees.
I arrived on a Friday afternoon and after checking in to my modern yet retro spacious room complete with a bag of goodies, teas & delicious shortbread, I headed downstairs to meet the other guests. I’ll admit I was a bit apprehensive as I’ve never attended anything like this before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I needn’t have worried as all the guests were so lovely, a mixture of press, journalists and friends of Hawkstone Hall ranging in age from 25-50 and predominately female.
For our first afternoon activity we had a guilt free afternoon tea – which if you’ve read my blog for a while you will know I LOVE afternoon tea – so I was intrigued to try a healthy one.
We had avocado & smoked salmon on crispbread, detox carrot & ginger juice, cinnamon, apple and banana loaf and freshly baked coconut & vanilla scones with cashew cream & raspberry chia jam.
It was delicious, filling and didn’t give me the usual crash in energy that I experience after an afternoon tea – I’d definitely recommend trying it! That evening we had a tour of the hall and gardens (they have 88 acres of land surrounding the mansion) before settling for our first dinner of the weekend. My favourite things that I learnt during my stay was how to tweak meals to make them healthier, how to make healthy snacks and just how bad the impact of sugar can be on our bodies and minds!
Our second day started with a HIIT class in their Orangery which is a small room located in the grounds that is light and airy. We started at 7.15am and I loved the class – I often do HIIT workouts in London in the morning and they always put me in a brilliant mood for the day.
After tucking into a delicious breakfast, we had a healthy treats demo by Chef Andy who made all our meals during our stay, who explained how to make (and sample) their healthy afternoon tea.
The best healthy snack recipe I learnt was this: take a date, pick out the nut, stuff it with peanut butter, and put in the freezer for a few hours. Once it’s frozen, it genuinely tastes like a mars bars ice cream – I make them every single day now – I’m addicted!
The retreat allowed for lots of downtime for the guests to relax, explore the grounds or do whatever made them feel at ease, which is something I really rated. I had planned to get lots of work done (I do struggle to relax) but ended up watching Netflix and going for long walks in the grounds with the other guests which was lovely.
We had our first yoga session of the weekend which was ran by a lovely lady who was 72! She’d been practising yoga for 40 years and was very flexible and talked us through several variations of yoga positions so that everyone could find something that worked for them. Her top health tip was to keep your spine healthy – the healthier your spine is, the longer you live!
That evening we had another delicious meal – most of the dinners were three courses and included different types of fish for a main course and a fruit cooked in a tasty alternative way for dinner.
We ended the day with a candelit meditation which I’d never done before and absolutely loved. I often meditate at home using Headspace but can find it hard to stay focused. I found it much easier to focus on the flicker of the flame to remain present and was able to last the whole 30 minutes ( I can usually only manage around 10 minutes).
Sunday was our last day on the retreat and started with another HIIT class – this one resembling F45 with a series of circuits. It was extremely tiring (although predominantly involved body weight exercises only) but was again a great way to start the day. After breakfast we headed on a 3 hour hike to the Follies – a set of woods not too far from the hall that has great views of the countryside, which was brilliant although slightly tiring on the legs after having just finished a workout!
After lunch we had several hours to relax again and I’ll admit I spent most of it napping and bingeing on Love Island! I went for a final walk around the grounds with the group before having our last meal of the retreat in the Saloon room which was stupendous. It was a room dripping with luxury and elegance and we had it all to ourselves. We ended with a tasty dessert of frozen berries drizzled with warm white chocolate sauce – all the meals tasted as though they should be unhealthy but were very nutritious.
I’m really glad I went on this retreat, it pushed me out of my comfort zone to go by myself and meet new people – I can be quite shy initially. It forced me to take time off and relax, something which I rarely do in London, and it also made me look at the meals I currently eat at home and assess how I could make them healthier without having to sacrifice nutrition.
Hawkstone Hall & We Leap UK are running their second retreat from Friday 11th- Sunday 13th October. Your stay for the two nights, all your meals and activities are included in the price. If you’re looking to do something a bit different, spend time either on your own or with a loved one for some quality time, whilst also getting to know others and being wholesome – then I would definitely recommend joining the retreat.
To my ever lovely readers – have you been on a retreat before? And if not, would you go on this one?