Canoeing woodland retreats: Stillness & Flow - 4 nights

Our Woodland Retreats run seasonally from June to September

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Explore the wild beauty of the River Dart whilst developing your own mindful nature connection on this magical 4-night retreat.

Meditation retreats bringing you close to nature in woodland at Sharpham

Paddling’s repetitive rhythm, and the river’s natural ebb and flow are a rich metaphor for the cultivation of mindful awareness.


Where the water’s ebb and flow and the rhythmic paddling help cultivate mindful awareness

                - The Guardian, listing us in 10 of the UK's best outdoor wellbing retreats


You’ll be on daily canoe trips that are gentle and contemplative with the emphasis on nature connection (as opposed to canoeing as a sport or adventure activity).  

No previous experience of canoeing is required and you’ll get full support from qualified instructors, ensuring you have a safe and rewarding experience.

These retreats require participants to have a reasonable level of fitness. The canoeing expeditions can be strenuous and one of the days involves a 40 minute walk back to camp after a 4 hour paddle (this is to accommodate the tides). 

Read on for more details on this retreat and click the Leaders, Schedules and Venue & Directions tabs above for further information.



Experience stillness & flow in a stunning setting

For nature lovers, the Dart offers a rich variety of wildlife.  Sharpham is perhaps at its best when viewed from the river.

Meditation retreats bringing you close to nature in woodland at Sharpham

This retreat is for you if you:

  • Want to experience mindfulness on the water
  • Love the outdoors and nature or would like to experience nature in a different way (you don't have to be an experienced camper to attend) 
  • Have a reasonable level of fitness 
  • Are new to mindfulness or are looking to sustain and reconnect with your practice in a new way  

The canoes

We will be using open Canadian canoes with space for two people paddling.

This style of canoe is very stable and durable.



Everyone must believe in something, I believe I’ll go canoeing

                                                                                                - Henry David Thoreau



Parts of the campsite and Sharpham’s grounds are on uneven ground and the retreat includes some walking on hilly terrain. We recommend that participants have a reasonable level of fitness to attend this retreat. Please contact us if you have physical health or mobility difficulties to make sure the retreat is suitable and that we can best accommodate your needs.

Be nurtured in nature

Accommodation is in spacious, cosy, single bell tents pitched in Sharpham's woodland, close to the River Dart in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Meditation retreats bringing you close to nature in woodland at Sharpham

Your accommodation will be in a comfortable and spacious single bell tent, which includes a single foam mattress and protective cover, pillows, a box for muddy shoes and a simple table.A full list of what to bring is offered at the point of booking.

There is a shower and toilet block at the campsite featuring four hot showers and three flushing loos.

Click the Venue & Directions tab above for further information.

A covered hearth area gives you access to the wisdom of the campfire, whilst protecting you from the elements.

There will be a maximum of 14 participants on this retreat.

There are periods of silence on each of our retreats.

Canoe leader paddles on the river

What you'll experience on this retreat

During this retreat you’ll:

  • go on daily canoe trips on the River Dart, supported by qualified instructors experienced in both canoeing and mindfulnessCanoeing in Sharpham's reed beds
  • experience guided meditations, relaxation sessions, supportive group sharing and periods of silence and quiet contemplation, amid breath-taking scenery on the banks of the River Dart
  • have a single-occupancy furnished bell-tent, and your own space in which to rejuvenate, with free time to deeply rest and reconnect with yourself, far from the busy-ness of daily life.
  • participate in accessible and engaging nature connection and nature sensing activities - cultivating moment to moment awareness in the outdoors 
  • be able to explore our tranquil Capability Brownian parkland and our Grade II*-listed gardens designed by Percy Cane
  • enjoy delicious, healthy, home-cooked vegetarian food that regularly receives rave reviews
  • be nurtured within a safe and supported space with time around the fire and under the stars

Meditation retreats bringing you close to nature in woodland at Sharpham

Mindfulness in nature at Sharpham

When you experience Sharpham's inspiring and nourishing environment, we hope you'll connect spiritually with the natural world, so you’ll:

  • become aware of how we are all part of nature - not artificially separate from it
  • pay attention to and appreciate the natural world surrounding us
  • explore nature through your senses and your natural creativity
  • Tread more lightly on our finite planet, developing a respect and reverence for all living things

Click here to read our ethos and principles

Tree-lined River Dart

What you need to know

If you decide to stay with us, we’ll send you a list of what you need to bring for this retreat in your Welcome Letter that we send out after you've booked.

You can also find out more about staying with us on our Frequently Asked Questions page, including

  • accessibility information
  • why we encourage you to come on your own and not with partners or friends
  • what the difference is between our retreats

Meditation retreats bringing you close to nature in woodland at Sharpham

Our food & your dietary needs

Meditation retreats bringing you close to nature in woodland at SharphamThe retreat is full-board with delicious home-cooked vegetarian food, served in the Woodland Campsite’s covered outdoor kitchen and dining area.

In line with sustainable practices across the Estate, our cooks produce seasonal, vegetarian food for our guests, and you’ll get a chance to eat food foraged from the wild.

We source food whenever possible from our kitchen garden and support local food suppliers. The Estate's farm tenants produce award-winning wine and cheese as well as organic eggs, meat and vegetables.

Food allergies & intolerances
Please tell us well in advance of your stay of any food allergies or intolerances you may have.

You can tell us this on the Booking Form via a link we send you in your confirmation email.


Your physical and mental health

This retreat is suitable for you if you are new to mindfulness, or seeking to renew or reconnect with your practice.

Although meditation and mindfulness can be helpful in managing stress, depression and anxiety our retreats might not be suitable if you are experiencing major depression or other psychiatric illness such as bipolar disorder, psychosis or current self-harming. Click here for more information and for our booking process


A 5-star setting with the added bonus of really being grounded in nature.


Canoeing in the reed beds at Sharpham

If you're coming to stay with us on retreat, it is important to make a commitment to arrive in time for the first group meeting and to attend all the days.

This ensures you experience the retreat programme from start to finish and helps your group of participants to gel.


All our retreats include periods of silence as a way of deepening into mindful awareness.

If you are new to spending time in silence in the company of other people, it can feel awkward to begin with. But we encourage you to explore the silent periods with a spirit of openness and curiosity - people usually find it to be a useful experience. 

Typical Schedule

Arrival Day: 

Afternoon Evening
3.00pm - 5.00pm – Arrival and unload 6.15pm - Supper and washing up
5.30pm - Welcome meeting, settling in 8.15pm - Guided meditation
  9.00pm - Camp moves into silence until 8.30am, supporting individual mindfulness and reflection

Typical Day: 

Due to the tides, there isn’t a typical day on this retreat so the schedule is flexible and will be confirmed on a daily basis once you’re in camp. The retreat includes periods of guided meditation, nature connection and some time for personal reflection.

Final day has a closing meeting at 10.30am, and your departure by 12pm – 1pm.

The combination of canoeing and mindfulness was PERFECT


The experience of canoeing on the Dart was breathtaking and so much fun


The beauty of the place pervades all the senses and, as for the river and canoeing - that was magical


Lovely food; supportive group; amazing location and wonderful canoeing opportunity


This was an astonishing experience to undergo: from arriving in the sunny woodland setting of breathtaking beauty and seeing the woodland meeting the river to getting on the water, paddling and soaking it up in silence. It’s a memory I will treasure.

This retreat takes place in our beautiful woodland campsite area in the grounds of Sharpham House, surrounded by nature and with the River Dart and 550 acres of the Sharpham Estate to explore.

Get close to nature on woodland meditation retreats at Sharpham

The Estate includes a diversity of natural habitats including reed beds, salt marsh and ancient woodland with a rich variety of wildlife, flora and fauna – all set within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty


Look out for and follow Woodland Retreat signs once on Sharpham Estate.

If you’re coming by taxi, the drivers will know the way to Sharpham House but not necessarily to the Woodland Retreat luggage drop-off point. Please look out for the signs.

Click here for our How to Find Us page on this website.

Click here to view, print or download directions and a map to Sharpham Woodland

Click here to view and download walking/cycling directions to Sharpham Woodland

There is a shower and toilet block at the campsite featuring four hot showers and three flushing loos. 

It is a timber-framed building constructed by students from South Devon College.

Get close to nature on woodland meditation retreats at Sharpham

Just to let you know, we have poor mobile phone coverage – which we see as a virtue. While there is wi-fi in Sharpham House, we encourage you to disconnect from ‘the network’ so you can fully retreat when you’re here.

We are 3 miles from Totnes – famous for its Transition Town movement


We take sustainability seriously.

We have two large photovoltaic solar panel arrays on the Estate.

Get close to nature on woodland meditation retreats at Sharpham

Our gardens are managed organically and we only use bio-degradable cleaning products.

£525 - Supported Rate

The Sharpham Trust is committed to ensuring that its retreats are accessible to all - regardless if income. The Supported Rate is for those unable to pay the Standard or Benefactor Rate.

£595 – Standard Rate

Paying the Standard Rate means you will be contributing towards our running costs, supporting the work of The Sharpham Trust and helping retreatants of lower incomes to access our retreats.

£650 – Benefactor Rate

If you are able to pay the Benefactor Rate, that means that you'll be supporting others who cannot afford to benefit from a retreat on The Sharpham Estate. Your choice to pay this rate will help us with the running costs of The Sharpham Trust, enabling us to continue our charitable work connecting people to nature and fostering mindfulness and wellbeing, as well as caring for the land, wildlife and wider estate.


Your accommodation will be in a comfortable and spacious single bell tent, which includes a single foam mattress and protective cover, pillows, a box for muddy shoes and a simple table. A full list of what to bring is offered at the point of booking.


Limited 50% bursaries offering reduced-price retreats are available for those experiencing financial hardship. Please contact the Programme Administrator at least 4 weeks in advance if you wish to apply.

Our bursary fund relies on donations. If you’d like to help another to go on retreat here through our bursary scheme, you can give online quickly and easily by clicking here

Nigel Ohlson

Nigel Ohlson

Nigel trained in professional youth work and was a Senior Youth Worker for Torbay Council for 20 years. He uses mindfulness within his therapeutic work and has completed the 8-week course at Sharpham Trust.

After leaving the Youth Service, Nigel worked as the Head of Risk Management for a large expedition company, planning and leading remote journeys in the Australian outback. He has also worked as an Outdoor Education advisor for local authorities in Devon and Scotland.

A keen and experienced climber, mountaineer, caver and 5* canoe guide, he loves the outdoors and believes passionately in the therapeutic benefit of spending time in nature.

Nigel has worked alongside Sharpham for a number of years. He currently works as a Child and Adolescent Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist for Evolve Psychotherapy.

Ollie Frame

Ollie Frame

Ollie Frame works as an integrative therapist, trained mindfulness teacher (MBSR) and retreat leader. He is a co-leader on the Mindful in Nature programme at Sharpham, for which he has written and recorded a large range of meditations and resources. He is passionate about how mindfulness can help us connect more deeply with the natural world, for the sake of our own wellbeing as well as that of the planet.

In addition to leading mindfulness courses in various settings, he is also trained to teach compassion-based approaches (Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living), and is especially enthusiastic about self-compassion, Metta meditation and other heart-based approaches to meditation practice. As an integrative therapist, Ollie has a particular interest in Psychosynthesis, inner journeying and the therapeutic use of meditation and the imagination. He loves the woodlands, rivers and coasts of Devon, and takes every opportunity he can to be by or in the River Dart.

Jess Stein

Jess Stein

Jess offers retreats that combine mindfulness, nature connection and creativity. She has been facilitating mindfulness spaces since 2012, initially as part of the Plum Village tradition and for the last six years at Sharpham Barn, House and Woodland. 

Reverence for nature informs all that Jess does. Initially trained as a yoga teacher all that she teaches takes its inspiration from the organic shapes of the human body and the forms and patterns of the natural world. She offers practices that awaken each person's unique capacity for awareness, creativity and connection. The spaces she holds are welcoming, intuitive and gently transformative.

Alongside retreats, Jess is a palliative care nurse and holds a degree in English Literature. Eternally curious, she has completed training in Dru Yoga, Scaravelli Inspired Yoga, Creative Writing and meditation, Embodied Anatomy, Nature Connection and Cultural Repair, Qi Gong, Adaptive Yoga, Yoga for Women’s Health and much more

Will Evans

Will Evans

Will has been meditating in various Buddhist and Non-Dual traditions for a decade, guided by a spirit of exploration and experimentation and a sense of wonder and possibility. He mostly finds his home in the Insight Meditation tradition. In 2019 he trained as a mindfulness teacher with the Mindfulness Training Institute under Martin Aylward and Mark Coleman, and in 2020 he joined the team at the Barn Retreat, where he spent over a year facilitating both online and in-person retreats. He has a passion for helping people find approaches and relationships to meditation that work for them, with the view that meditation practice is not a fixed path but a vast landscape to explore.

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  • online on this page
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