How do you get away without getting away? I knew I lived in a beautiful part of the world, Cornwall, but being surrounded by rolling countryside and a roaring coastline on a day-to-day basis, can become, I hate to admit it, a little suffocating.
I craved new adventure, but of course that was impossible mid restrictions or was it… cue Thera-Sea, Rewilding Retreat – a retreat in the middle of the Cornish Countryside, which is so off-grid, not only had I not heard of it, but I had to hike to find it.
Katy Griffin, the founder of Thera-Sea (Therapy by the Sea), who was a professional mental-health nurse for over a decade, describes her retreats as ‘lifestyle medicine’ where along with hob-nobbing with nature and wild swimming, you can also spend hours forest foraging, paddle-boarding, fire-making and attending workshops on mental health - a subject close to Katy’s heart, inspired by her dad’s long struggle with the illness.
Katy says: “Not enough is being done to support mental health. Our lives are over-stimulated and stressful, there’s a lot more to life than working and social media. Time in nature is invaluable."
As the first glimpse of the day’s sun pokes its head above the horizon, I lower myself into the freezing cold water of the River Fal for a dawn swim, my feet seeking out some solid ground on which to rest. Cold Water Therapy or CWT is all the rage these days, but I wanted to find out for myself what all the fuss was about… once the initial shock of submerging myself, however slowly, into the cold water was over, I feel a stillness rise in me. As I look along the bank of ancient oak woodlands which line the river all the way up, via numerous creeks, to the city of Truro, two dark bright soulful eyes seek out mine and we stare at each other transfixed – a seal! A deep feeling of peace now engulfs me.
Thera-Sea is not your usual retreat, a campfire burns day and night and forms the focal point for the group, with delicious, nutritious food cooked on the open fire by Adam, Aka the ‘Aussie Smoker.’ Situated directly in front of the ‘picture perfect’ stone cottage, which is itself surrounded by cabins and treehouses, which provide accommodation so secluded in nature, you’ll be hard-pushed to find them at night. This coupled with evenings spent under the stars, hanging out around the camp fire or relaxing in a hammock down by the water’s edge.
Day two and as I find wood and kindling to make a fire with my team, under the watchful gaze and guidance of Mark, Thera-sea’s outdoors expert. I realise, as I watch the fire crackle and burn, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction – in just three days, I’ve found peace, learnt how to make a fire – a skill which one day might just save my life and reconnected intimately with the nature that surrounds me.
Claire Rowley visited Thera-Sea. Two-night retreats from £315pp, including meals and activities; the next retreat dates are 13-15th July 2021.
Return tickets from London to Truro, a 40-minute drive from Thera-Sea, start at £51 with GWR