(#press trip) If you had asked me a week ago whether I could successfully live off grid in a tree lodge in the middle of nowhere with no electricity or phone for 2 days and 2 nights, I think I would have happily told you a great big NO! Thinking of my world now where social media life features a lot more than is probably healthy to step out of this normality and into a digital detox retreat sounds like a dream, but also I was definitely nervous about it. I was scared because its definitely stepping out of the old comfort zone. My normal Sunday nights are spent getting school uniforms ready for the week ahead, ‘doing the reading books’, checking the week’s schedule, finding out a child hasn’t done homework and its due in on the morning blah blah blah…then preparing for the chaotic week ahead (mainly snuggling on the sofa, cups of tea/chocolate and reality TV)
so to travel through wind and rain and dark (!) to Swinton estate was a bit unusual for me to say the least. I arrived later than I wanted due to a family meal so on arrival at the lodges I literally couldn’t see a thing in front of me. With the power of a mobile torchlight (don’t be silly, I didn’t bring a real torch with me!) I stumbled in the quiet darkness only to try and let myself into the wrong lodge (luckily a fabulous fellow blogger I had never met before answered the door, poured me a gin and tonic and allowed me to kip on the middle bunk for the night!) I am tremendously grateful for her kindness as there was no way I could have gone on to find my own lodge (which was about 2 metres next to it) it was very dark!!! The next day we arose at 5am to be ready for a forest walk to see the sunrise. It was surreal to wake up in a strange place but I got a lovely peaceful nights sleep. Faith led us through the beautiful surroundings of Swinton estate and it was so relaxing smelling the fresh forest scent and taking in the stunning views and Druid’s temple built here in the 1800’s. It was also so thought provoking to think of how little time we spend in our busy modern lives taking in nature and being at one with it. To be in such a beautiful location really made me think how wonderful it was to have a break from the daily grind.
After the walk we had chance to chill at our cabin and then be picked up and taken for our spa experience at the luxurious and heavenly Swinton country club and spa. I have visited a few spas and this one was definitely right up with the best! I felt really chilled taking a dip in the rather cool fresh water pool but then was happy enough to warm up in the thermal suite afterwards! A relaxing massage by the lovely Rozi ensured I felt like I was floating through the rest of the day! On our return we had a group lunch in the owl barn at the visitor’s centre. The food throughout the stay was of such a high standard with healthy fresh tasting fare such as apple and blackcurrant cake, vegetable quiche, and falafel wraps, homemade houmous. It was absolutely beautiful cuisine and lovely to chat to fellow bloggers and meet some new people. The evening meal was amazing too, vegan shepherds pie and chocolate brownies as a treat with ice cream!
We went on later in the day to experience the campfire and Reiki drumming which was extremely energising and made me feel alive it was such a new experience for me! The weather was challenging to say the least but we felt so snug by the roaring fire and it was a great event. The next day we enjoyed a 2 hour silent forest walk (a challenge for those who like to talk!) and every time Faith clashed the mini cymbals we had to sit down where we were, close our eyes and listen to the sounds of the forest. It was a wonderfully tranquil experience and really made me reflect and relax for the first time in a long time.
A sound bath was something I had never heard of but our last morning was spent enjoying one! We lay on cosy bean bags in the warm and snug visitor’s centre whilst listening to the soothing tones of different instruments. A sound bath is basically where a person is immersed in beautiful sounds and vibrations which are healing to the body, mind and spirit. Saying goodbye to everyone was a bit sad as we had really bonded over our time at Swinton. Back to normal life is always a bit hard when you have made your home in a tree lodge and have finally learned how to make a fire burn successfully in a log burning stove! (Super proud me!)
Our breakfast was delivered every morning and included fresh eggs, organic milk, nuts and seeds, herbal tea, organic bread, yoghurt and porridge. Just what was needed and I loved using the stove to boil the kettle and make dippy eggs.
My little tree snug was ideal, resourcefully and practically designed, it had everything that was needed to make my stay comfortable and warm. There was a shower and toilet and also it wasn’t cold on the evening either (I stayed on the top bunk!) if the kids had been here there would have been a race for the top I reckon! There were plenty of tea lights, lanterns and fairy lights throughout the cabin so you never felt truly in the dark once the sun had gone in!
My cosy tree snug for the 2 nights!
“A warm welcome and a retreat into luxury and tranquility amongst stunning natural beauty”
“Staff couldn’t do enough for us to make the stay well organised, thoughtful and enjoyable. The little touches were magical, I loved receiving a journal to use throughout the stay and reflect on my learning”.
I’ll miss bunk bed life!
Swinton Bivouac is open throughout the year with options to stay in a tree lodge or a yurt. More information available here…