1. Before a Retreat
Natural Change is designed to be beneficial to the widest possible range of participants and we have welcomed people of many different ages, abilities, cultures and backgrounds to our retreats. There are no prerequisites for participating in a Natural Change Retreat although you need to be over 18 years old.
As a Natural Change retreat involves engaging deeply with your thoughts and feelings they may not be suitable for those who are being treated for a psychiatric condition or are on medication for a psychiatric condition. If this applies to you then you should not participate in a Natural Change Retreat without the permission of your doctor.
Natural Change Retreats are designed to be a gentle, beautiful introduction to nature and the benefits of spending time in the outdoors. While they do involve gentle walks in the wilderness, sometimes leaving the path and going cross-country, they are not a test of physical endurance nor do they require a high degree of physical fitness.
We are committed to making Natural Change an experience accessible to a wide range of abilities. Our pace is set to that which can be comfortably managed by all group members and we design the programme to meet the needs of everyone in the group.
As a guideline – you will need to be able to carry a day pack containing your personal equipment (waterproofs, spare jacket/jumper, lunch, flask, etc.) for periods of up to four hours. This four hour period will be a combination of walking at a gentle pace and sitting down. However, for participants who would find this difficult for any reason, we will do what we can to adapt routes, terrain and activities. If this is the case, please contact us as soon as possible before booking to discuss your needs.
2. Preparation for a Retreat
As well as your own clothes to be worn while travelling and in the lodge, you will need clothing and equipment that will keep you warm and dry in the outdoors. During a Natural Change Retreat we will spend most of our days outdoors either walking gently or sitting down.
We have given a list of the clothing and equipment below that will be sufficient for keeping you comfortable while we are outside. On your retreat, our facilitators will explain what you need to take with you for each session and how to use the different layers of clothing to either keep warn or prevent overheating.
Deanich Lodge on the Alladale Wilderness Reserve is one of the remotest houses on the UK mainland. There is no mobile phone signal in the glen where the lodge is located and there is no wifi at the lodge.
Stepping away from the frantic demands of 21st century life is a key part of a Natural Change Retreat. We encourage all participants to embrace the opportunity to spend a week away from digital technology and grasp the liberating experience that is a ‘digital detox’.
There is a landline telephone in Deanich Lodge and you will be given the number before your retreat so people can contact you in an emergency. There will usually be a member of the Natural Change facilitation team in the lodge at all times to answer the phone.
If we cannot be reached at Deanich Lodge, people can call the Alladale Wilderness Reserve main number and their staff team will get a message to us.
3. What to Expect on a Retreat
A Natural Change Retreat is about focusing on what really matters in life and the accommodation we choose reflects this. Our venues will always be simple, elegant places with a calm, tranquil atmosphere.
We know how important it is for our participants to be physically comfortable, so expect the warmth of central heating, relaxing sofas, blazing log fires, cozy duvets and lovely showers with oodles of hot water.
Bedrooms are shared with others of the same gender. For those who feel the need for some time on their own, each venue has a designated quite space where you can take some time away from the group.
Sometimes is rains and our jackets and boots will get wet, so all of our venues have drying rooms to ensure everything is warm and dry again for the next day.
The role of food in nurturing our sense of wellbeing is an incredibly important part of a Natural Change Retreat. Each day one of the facilitation team will prepare you freshly cooked meals using local, seasonal produce whenever possible.
On a Natural Change Retreat we place a lot of emphasis on life’s simple pleasures and the food we provide reflects this. So expect homemade bread, bowls of warning soup, delicious evening meals and indulgent puddings.
Between meals, freshly brewed coffee, a variety of teas, biscuits and fruit are always available.
All food is vegetarian and we can make vegan and gluten/grain free options for participants who require them. If you have dietary requirements or a food allergies or intolerance we will make every effort to accommodate this but please contact us before booking to discuss your needs.
As Natural Change Retreats involve both engaging with our emotions and the need for good judgement while working outdoors in a remote location, we do not allow the consumption of alcohol during retreats.
Each day breakfast will be available from 7:30am and the programme will usually begin at 9:00am with a gathering of the group to explain the day’s activities. The morning will usually be spent outdoors with a break back at the lodge mid-morning for hot drinks.
Lunch is usually served around 1:00pm and followed by further time spent outdoors with another break back at the lodge in the mid-afternoon. Following the afternoon activities there is some free time before dinner.
Dinner is usually served around 7:00pm to 7:30pm. Following dinner there may be a short group briefing to let you know what will be happening the following day. This is then followed by free time.
One exception to this pattern is the solo day when participants will leave the lodge at sunrise to spend a day alone in the outdoors, returning a sunset. Before the solo day our facilitators will have thoroughly briefed you on how to keep yourself warm and comfortable during your solo and will provide you with the equipment you need. A packed lunch and snacks will also be provided for your solo.
Being comfortable in the outdoors – whatever the weather – lies at the heart of the Natural Change experience. Before your retreat we will send you a list of the right clothing to bring and during the retreat our facilitators will explain how to layer your clothes to keep warm, dry and comfortable during our time spent outdoors.
Our team of facilitators will carefully adapt the programme and the locations of each activity to make the best of the the weather. We spend most of our time outdoors but if the weather insists, we gather around a wood burning stove either indoors or under canvas.
4. Terms & Conditions
By booking a place on a Natural Change Retreat, you agree to being bound by our terms and conditions.