The woods at Cabilla Cornwall

Wild On Bodmin Moor: Wild Calm Retreat At Cabilla Cornwall

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Dark sky sensation, ancient oak woodland wonder

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There is nothing worse than being stood up for a date. Particularly one you’ve set your alarm for 5.30am for and walked 45 minutes in the pre-dawn drizzle to reach. But beavers are unpredictable creatures. Unpredictable, but vital to the recovery of our waterways, as Rebecca Cox learnt, when she went to Cabilla Cornwall in search of a Cornish yoga retreat and left with a new understanding of the rewilding efforts transforming the farming landscape in North Cornwall. If you’re looking for a wellness weekender that goes deeper than bamboo yoga leggings and chargrilled cauliflower, you’re in for a (re)treat…

Cabilla Cornwall Wild Calm Retreat Review

‘Rewilding’ is becoming as overused as ‘eco-friendly’ in sustainability discussions, beginning to lose some of its meaning in discussions about the future of rural Britain. Particularly as some supporters of the movement exclude humans from the equation completely. As many farms (to which humans are, inarguably, vital) consider new ways to survive in an ever-changing landscape (both economically and environmentally), not all problems have short-term solutions. Which is why Merlin and Lizzie, owners at Cabilla Cornwall, have come up with a ‘thousand year plan’ to completely regenerate their own slice of England, including the ambitious expansion of their ancient oak woodlands. Another ambitious project includes the reintroduction of native species vital for the regeneration and survival of British eco-systems; first up, the beaver. And so, alongside yoga flows, sound baths, and all the usual 2020s necessities for a wellness escape, Cabilla’s retreats include the opportunity to rise at dawn and visit Sigourney Beaver and Jean Claude Van Dam, the resident beavers (plus their two offspring Beavie Wonder and Beavie Nicks) who were released on site last year following a crowd funding effort. Except on our first visit, the beavers were a no-show.

No matter, once you’ve set foot in Cabilla’s woods, it takes little persuasion for a return visit, and so after a Vinyasa flow, plant-based feast and a cacao ceremony, back we went for attempted sighting number two, where we were treated to the beavers in action, busying away at their dam and tucking into an early breakfast (they rise at dusk) of willow wood. Seeing these wonderful creatures at work was just one of the many unexpected highlights of Cabilla’s Wild Calm Retreat, launched in 2021 (and planned with fine-tuning to return as a regular event for 2022) to bring the farm back to life and support the ambitious and numerous eco-restoration projects underway at the heart of Bodmin Moor.

The woods at Cabilla Cornwall

The woods at Cabilla Cornwall, photo by Rebecca Cox

STAY

A field full of comfy bell tents along the edge of the woods have played host to retreat guests throughout 2021, but these will be replaced with wood cabins complete with wood burners for 2022 to make stays even more appealing. If you require plumbing to call a holiday a holiday, snap up The Keep, available through The Wanderlist, next to Cabilla Manor for a cosy, comfortable two-bedroom cottage that is the perfect base for exploring the healing woods and walkways of Bodmin Moor whether you’re there for a retreat or just passing through. An easy 10-minute walk from the happy campers and barn studio for yoga, meals and more, you’ll be thankful for your hot shower and proper bed after a full day of activities in nature. Don’t forget to look up as you walk home after sunset and enjoy the breath-taking night skies in this Dark Sky Area. Just keep your front door shut if you don’t want the chickens to join you for your morning cuppa.

The Keep at Cabilla Cornwall

The Keep

DO

Along with nature walks with Merlin, who will share his inspiring vision for Cabilla and the equally passionate hosts, the Cabilla Wild Calm retreat is largely led by yoga teacher Sorrel, who goes above and beyond to make every guest feel like part of the Cabilla family during their stay. The yoga flows are tailored to the group and timings are flexible to allow for lie-ins, early rises, beaver no-shows and impromptu tarot readings. It takes roughly 24 hours to fully shake the London off and relax into the swing of things and go with the flow of the group, dipping in and out of the schedule as suits you. Ensure you don’t dip out of the sound bath, however, a two-hour healing sound journey that has to be seen (/heard) to be believed. The session is apparently the physical equivalent of five hours deep sleep and you’ll likely get a solid eight hours more when it finishes.

You may think that forest bathing is just walking in the woods rebranded to sell holidays in places it rains a lot. But when the woods in question are ancient oak woodlands with the mystical Cabilla Tor at their heart and a fast-flowing river running through them for paddling or bathing – the healing power of spending time under the canopies is undeniable. This temperate rainforest is rich in colour, sounds and life, and whether or not you connect with the borrowed cultural and spiritual practises expertly led by Sorrel and co throughout the weekend, you will connect with the glorious nature you encounter at Cabilla, and emerge with a renewed perspective, (or at the very least an improved mood).

Merlin and dogs at Cabilla Cornwall

Merlin and the dogs on the nature walk, photo by Rebecca Cox

EAT

Speaking of an improved mood, enter mealtimes at Cabilla. Our meals were created by Kate Munro Boot, a menu designed in conjunction with Sorrel to reflect the chakras and themes our wellness journey followed. Food was almost entirely plant-based, with plenty of local, fresh seasonal produce, and plans to increase the local input through improved relationships with surrounding farms and grocers next year. Think enormous and beautifully presented platters of charred tofu and bok choi with coconut curry, black rice and a spiced salad packed with seasonal veg or a roasted cauliflower platter with a flat courgette from the farm next door and lemon balm foraged by a guest on a nature walk. A vegan banoffee pudding with date caramel and coconut cream on the final night was beaten only by the cinnamon roasted pears served up (with evident love from Kate) for breakfast.

THE FINAL WORD

We came to Cabilla for a spiritual reset and yoga with healthy meals in a pretty barn studio punctuated by nature walks and the occasional meditation. But a weekend Wild Calm Retreat is so much more. It turns out there are worse things than being stood up for a date. Such as the steady and insidious destruction of our ecosystems and gradual extinction of our native species. But a few nights at Cabilla will show you that change for the better is possible. And what’s more, we can be a part of it.

BOOK

The Keep at Cabilla Cornwall, Bodmin Moor, sleeps 4 | From £160 with a minimum 2 night stay for The Keep | Retreats start from £750pp | Book via The Wanderlist, a travel directory of unique UK stays | thewanderlist.uk

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