Time to step back?

by
24 January 2020

Alison MacTier lists remote places to consider for a solitary retreat

The Westwood Christian Centre, perched on the hillside with views over the Colne Valley in West Yorkshire

The Westwood Christian Centre, perched on the hillside with views over the Colne Valley in West Yorkshire

Kites’ Nest Cottage, near Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire

THIS remote but accessible one-bedroom cottage extension is located on the western end of the Brecon Beacons. It is surrounded by farm and woodland, and all rooms have stunning views over the Towy Valley. Guests share the surrounding five acres of meadow and garden — including a wildlife pond and shep­herd’s retreat hut — with the main cottage owners; during the summer months, the garden is also open to visitors.

Facilities: Self-catering cottage for one or two people with shared garden.

Costs: From £50pn (ten-per-cent discount for singles); breakfast £7.95pp on request. Open all year round, including Christmas and New Year.

Contact: David and Ros Steel on 01558 824514; or visit www.kitesnestcottage.co.uk.

Ringsfield Hall, Beccles, Suffolk

THIS remote but accessible one-bedroom cottage extension is located on the western end of the Brecon Beacons. It is surrounded by farm and woodland, and all rooms have stunning views over the Towy Valley. Guests share the surrounding five acres of meadow and garden — including a wildlife pond and shep­herd’s retreat hut — with the main cottage owners; during the summer months, the garden is also open to visitors.

Facilities: One-bed hermitage for individuals on retreat with a small kitchenette and toilet/washroom. Bed linen provided.

Costs: Donation (suggested rate from £10 per day).

Contact: Dave Townend on 01502 713020; www.ringsfield-hall.co.uk.

Sacred Space Foundation, Mungrisdale, Cumbria

THE Sacred Space Foundation com­prises two self-contained retreat houses in the foothills of the North­ern Fells within the Lake District National Park. The houses are on two different sites, and both have ample facilities and access to open countryside. The Foundation was set up in the 1980s with a vision to support those needing respite, par­ticularly carers, drawing on a variety of spiritual traditions and practices and of psychological models. Now, the foundation welcomes all, and each house has a resident spiritual director.
Facilities: Each house has its own bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and sitting areas, and guests stay on a self-catering basis. Those on retreat also have access to a meditation room, library, garden, and labyrinth. A third house may be opening this year.

Costs: Donation (see guidelines on the website).

Contact: Jean Sayre-Adams on 01768 779831; www.sacredspace.org.uk.

Tinhay Retreats, Lifton, Devon

TINHAY RETREATS is an old farm­house and home set in an eight-acre smallholding, including a gar­den affiliated to the Quiet Garden Movement, two acres of wildflower meadow, and a small orchard. It offers a small camping field (for up to five caravans/motorhomes and ten tents) on a quiet, sheltered site. Tinhay is open to people of all denominations and none. Spiritual direction and retreats tailored to the individual are available.

Kite’s Nest Cottage, with views over the Towy Valley in Camarthenshire

Facilities: Grass pitches with toilet block, electric hook-up and campfire area for wood fires. A bell tent may be available for hire in 2020. Meals can be arranged on request.

Costs: £13 per standard camping unit (caravan, bell tent, family tent, motorhome); £9 for a two-person tent; electric hook-up £3 per night; day retreat £20.

Contact: Robert and Suzy Weston on 01566 784990; www.tinhayretreats.com.

Ty Croeso Retreat Centre, Llantarnam Abbey, Cwmbran, Torfaen

TY CROESO is in the grounds of Llantarnam Abbey, and is managed by the Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy. Within the grounds, too, is a two-bedroom self-catering hermitage: a venue for a time of solitude or hermitage experience surrounded by woodlands, rivers, and hills, and with easy access to walks. Those staying in the hermitage are welcome to use the main abbey chapel, the oratory, and the Ty Croeso walled garden, where there is a labyrinth for prayer. There is also a resource/art room with books and CDs.

Facilities: Self-catering or full board (guests take their meals in the main centre). Broadband available. Bed linen and towels provided. Closed in January.

Costs: £40pp per night, £60pp per night (full board).

Contact: Sister St Joseph Butler (administrator) on 01633 867317; www.tycroesocentre.co.uk.

Ruach Retreat, Dwygyfylchi, Conwy

RUACH RETREAT is a traditional cottage which has been modernised, offering a space for those seeking time out in a peaceful setting. It is set in Snowdonia National Park and has views and many accessible walks, in­­cluding a pathway to Conwy Moun­tain. Open to all; pastoral cou­selling and prayer is also available.

Ruach Retreat, located within the Snowdonia National Park

Facilities: One double and one single bedroom, bathroom, lounge, conservatory, and spacious organic garden available for the sole use of retreatants. Self-catering, but meals can be shared with owners. Art materials and books.

Costs: Donation only.

Contact: David and Zoya on 01492 622279; www.ruachretreat.co.uk.

Westwood Christian Centre, Huddersfield

LOCATED on a windswept hillside in the Pennine Hills, surrounded by rambling walks and incredible views over the Colne Valley, Westwood offers a spot in which to unwind and seek God. The former church building, now home to five self-contained flats, each with their own distinct character, is run sustainably by two families who are working towards zero waste, sourcing renew­able energy and producing home-grown food. Westwood is a non-profit organisation, and mem­bers of the team are available to meet guests on a one-to-one basis if needed.

Facilities: Wifi available. Self-catering.

Costs: From £30pp per night.

Contact: Nikki Phelan on 01484 845042; www.westwood-centre.org.uk.

Alison MacTier is executive director of the Retreat Association: tel: 01494 569056; info@retreats.org.uk; www.retreats.org.uk.

Forthcoming Events

21-22 February 2020
Church Times Festival of Faith and Literature
With Sam Wells, Catherine Fox, Mark Oakley, Suzannah Lipscomb and many others. 
See the full programme

26 March 2020
Theology Slam Live Final
Hear three of the UK’s best up-and-coming young theologians as they reflect on the most pressing issues of our time.  Book tickets

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read five articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)