Wild, wellness-boosting holidays for 2021, without the need for a passport.
We all need a bit of physical and mental relaxation. With foreign alternatives probably closed-off by C19 travel restrictions, it is time to find a wellbeing destination closer to home. A good option is the Isle of Wight, just 40 minutes by ferry from the mainland but far enough to feel like a world away.
The team at ferry operators Wightlink have given us their suggestions for a wellness-boosting island escape.
Walking therapy: tracing the Island’s entire coastline
Visitors to the Isle of Wight can walk the entirety of the Island’s coastline whilst taking part in group talking therapies. Ipse Wilderness’ three-day ‘The I-Land’ walking pilgrimage takes place from 3 – 6 June 2021 and is led by the company’s founder, Julia Gillick, an ex-army officer with a background in group facilitation. Designed to guide visitors through the concept of the self, both physically and emotionally, the heart-opening route circumnavigates the Island along footpaths, clifftops and seafronts, allowing the Island’s expansive spaces to help them open up, connect with others and talk their way to a better sense of self. Offering a journey into self-identity and self-expression, the route is interspersed with wellbeing talks and activities that guide visitors towards inner wisdom, confidence and conviction in one’s own beliefs. Walkers will cover up to 14 miles a day amongst the Island’s great outdoors, providing unforgettable scenery on a transformative journey. Ipse Wilderness’ The I-Land journey is £400 per person, including all accommodation, transport, activities and two breakfasts. Details here.
Energy healing: a spiritual week amongst farmland
Wellness retreats at Godshill Park Barn immerse visitors in rural Island life: the converted barn is situated on a working farm surrounded by picturesque countryside scenery. The ‘Deepening Wisdom & Expanding Skills’ wellness retreat with Madison King, an internationally recognised master practitioner, teacher and natural healthcare expert, takes place on 2 – 9 July 2021, enabling visitors to take a deep dive into the world of healing energy work. Visitors will spend their days learning breathwork, taking part in gentle stretching and contemplation exercises, enjoying treatments with the Island’s top crystal healer and using the farm’s own alpaca wool to knit. Nutritious and locally-sourced dishes are served, whilst walks with Shetland ponies and explorations of the quieter corners of the island are mapped out to renew strength, motivation and clarity. Godshill Park Barn’s position on a network of footpaths and bridleways leads guests through farmland onto the downs and the coast, meaning there are always opportunities for mindful moments in nature. The Deepening Wisdom & Expanding Skills is £975 per person and includes farmhouse accommodation, breakfast, all teaching and treatments and two dinners on the farm.
Open water swimming: a proven way to boost health and immunity
Swimming in open-water is unrivalled for its mental health benefits, and the UK’s waters are no exception – scientists have even proven that being immersed in cold water three times a week can increase white blood cell counts, helping to fight infection, boost immunity and activate antibodies. Even complete beginners can get a handle on the benefits and challenges of cold water swims with Emma’s Otters, an Isle of Wight business offering open water coaching in one of the peaceful lakes in Rookley, surrounded by trees and offering stunning vantage points. Sessions are hosted by an open water coach and an open water lifeguard to ensure safety and confidence for swimmers of all levels. Once swimmers have mastered the basics in the lake, the Isle of Wight’s many beautiful beaches await, promising as much open water swimming as visitors could wish for. An open air swimming session with a coach starts at £15 for 45 minutes.
Forest bathing: wellness amongst the trees
Forest Bathing has swept through the wellness world in the last year, helping bathers to digitally detox, gain perspective and forge a connection with nature. Forest Bathing Isle of Wight is run by a local specialist, utilising the Island’s abundant forests as a natural setting for wellness therapies, such as sound-healing sessions, guided meditations, creativity exercises and simple silence. These are paired with mindful walking routes to create an immersive experience in the Island’s forests. The company offers bespoke small group and one-to-one sessions with its founder, Anthea Payne, an energy healer working to restore balance in both humans and animals. Sessions are tailored to personal goals or issues, exploring the Island’s rich countryside but ultimately guiding bathers to connect with it on a deeper, restorative level. The company also works to protect the Island’s forests: for every forest bathing session booked with Forest Bathing Isle of Wight, one tree is planted by TreeSisters.org. Sessions start at £15 year round.
How to get there
Wightlink offers eco-friendly cross-Solent crossings with flagship vessel, Victoria of Wight, being England’s first hybrid energy ferry, combining battery power and a conventional engine to save on emissions. Wightlink offers car ferry day return crossings from Portsmouth to Fishbourne from £52.50 with short break car ferry return crossings from £65.50. For foot passengers Wightlink’s tickets cost £14.40 per person. For further information and/or to book Wightlink ferry tickets, visit www.wightlink.co.uk.