Sometimes, you don’t know what you’ve been missing until you get it – that was the case with Weleda’s Autumn Wellness Weekend for me. Weleda’s weekend retreats are themed around the seasons – exploring how we can tune into the seasonal shifts and what we can gain by taking some mindful time to reconnect with nature. As such, a lot of our Autumn retreat was centred around the idea of “letting go” – much like the trees shedding their leaves, we were invited to consider what we might also want to release.
I’d never been to a wellness retreat before. Whilst I lead a healthy lifestyle (I eat well, I exercise regularly, I do my best to limit my screen time and prioritise sleep) I rarely, if ever, make any kind of tranquillity a priority in my life. I do practise regular yoga, but it’s for pragmatic purposes: I find it helps to support all of the other physical training I do on a regular basis. Similarly, I often have sports massages or a bath to aid recovery, but otherwise the idea of slowing down, especially for a whole weekend, was an alien concept to me. I hesitated initially in case I wasn’t the right “type” of person suited to a retreat like this. Nonetheless, I turned up with an open mind and I’m delighted to have been proved completely wrong – I loved it. I’ve since realised that there wasn’t really any one type of person at our retreat at all. We were a mix of ages and backgrounds. We all had varied reasons for being there – to heal, to recharge, to rest, to reconnect – but we each undeniably benefited from the space and opportunity to unplug.
Lapwing Barns was our home for the weekend. It’s a peaceful and secluded rural setting in Buxton, nestled amongst the stunning countryside of the Peak District National Park. The property itself is also beautiful, with period features such as exposed stone walls, spacious yet cosy bedrooms, a large and inviting dining room and vibrant communal areas that let in plenty of natural light. Our group regularly huddled together around the fire in the lounge but there are also plenty of comfortable nooks to settle into with a blanket should you want some quiet time by yourself. Both the yoga and many of the evening group sessions were held in the adjacent barn conversion which has been transformed into a welcoming cocoon full of blankets, pillows, flowers, wonderful-smelling essential oils and soft lighting. It’s so easy to dismiss beauty as unnecessary but each carefully considered detail genuinely did enhance our sense of feeling welcomed, cared for, and appreciated. The space felt sacred and as such it fostered a deep sense of authentic connection and nourishment for everyone throughout the weekend.
Modern life isn’t especially conducive to carving out time for ourselves and many of us are perhaps more accustomed to looking after others. It’s a theme that came up repeatedly throughout the retreat as we were reminded to allow ourselves to receive the care, rather than feeling selfish.
Friday set the tone for the weekend; after briefly being slowed down en route to the cottage by a very Derbyshire sort of traffic jam (cows crossing the road), I was warmly greeted like a dear friend by our friendly and down-to-earth hosts. Later, when everyone had unpacked and settled into their rooms, we gathered for the first of our informal connection sessions, where we were invited to set our intentions for the weekend. After a delicious dinner, we were treated to a calming foot spa using the gorgeously scented Weleda Lavender bath milk, followed by Weleda’s luxurious Lavender body oil. This simple but beautiful evening ritual was a reminder that even small actions can have a profound effect on wellbeing – we all peacefully drifted up to bed soon after.
Saturday and Sunday mornings both started with yoga, and after a nourishing breakfast there were various wellness workshops hosted by one of the many experts present throughout the weekend. These included an Awakening Skin Workshop, an interactive session to learn more about your unique body and personality type (fascinating!), followed by an immersive Nature Connection session where we were guided to really connect with our surroundings on a much deeper level, taking a stroll through quiet country lanes to a nearby river. These activities served as the perfect antidote to the usual rush and multitasking that is so embedded in twenty-first-century living. Lunch was usually around 1pm and in the late afternoon there was the chance to have a Weleda Signature Treatment or a private 30-minute wellness consultation, should you wish. Otherwise, the time was free for whatever you wanted most; some curled up with a book or their journal, some sat chatting by the fire, some retreated into their rooms for a nap and others ventured out for a walk to explore our idyllic surroundings.
I experienced Weleda’s Signature Treatment on Sunday afternoon; to call it a facial doesn’t do it justice – it was more of a 90-minute sensory delight that left me feeling completely rejuvenated. Another lovely foot bath signalled the start of the treatment, this time with Weleda’s Arnica bath soak which I use regularly myself (great for aching sporty muscles!), as my esthetician chatted through my current skin care regime and any issues I might have. After a relaxing back rub, I was wrapped up under a blanket to begin the main event. The process is very gentle, yet thorough. There are waves of incredible scents throughout (Weleda’s fabulous bath milks making a reappearance here), accompanied by soothing hot towels and a revitalising foot rub to finish. My skin was glowing by the time I left, with my personalised skin care recommendations noted down, and I had been pampered from head to toe.
So much of the weekend was about not only letting things go but also letting things in; the latter has especially stayed with me since coming home. With a tendency to value self-sufficiency and discipline, I’ve set a personal intention to allow more room for luxury in my life going forward. On Sunday morning, I wrapped up warm and headed outside with a hot mug of tea, where I stood for a few minutes quietly soaking up the gorgeous sunrise over the sweeping Derbyshire hills. I have never regretted watching a sunrise (or a sunset) and it’s the small, accessible pockets of beauty and contentment like this that I’m planning to weave back into my busy days going forward. After all, a happy life should be filled with so much more than just what is necessary, shouldn’t it?
Laura Kennington is a British adventure athlete, author and speaker with a passion for the endurance capability of the human body. A strong believer in the positive impact that adventure and sport can have, Laura uses her human-powered journeys as a platform to inspire and encourage others to get outside.
Weleda’s Wellness Retreats are available to book here from £950 per person (twin occupancy) or £1,250 single occupancy in a double room. Dates for Weleda’s Spring retreat are 23-26 February 2024, and Autumn 11-14 October 2024.