Canoeing retreats: Stillness & Flow - 3 nights
Explore the wild beauty of the River Dart whilst developing your own mindful nature connection on this magical retreat.
Paddling’s repetitive rhythm, and the river’s natural ebb and flow are a rich metaphor for the cultivation of mindful awareness.
Everyone must believe in something, I believe I’ll go canoeing
- Henry David Thoreau
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.
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.
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)
- Are new to mindfulness or are looking to sustain and reconnect with your practice in a new way
We will be using open Canadian canoes with space for two people paddling.
This style of canoe is very stable and durable.
Parts of the campsite and Sharpham’s grounds are on uneven ground and the retreat includes some walking on hilly terrain. Please contact us if you have physical health or mobility difficulties to make sure 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
Beds and bedding are supplied: a single foam mattress, warm 13.5 tog duvet and bedding.
There’s a box for muddy shoes, a simple table and a solar light. There is no electricity at the tents, only at the main camp kitchen and the shower block.
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 15 participants on this retreat.
There are periods of silence on each of our retreats.
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 mindfulness
- 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 Brown-designed parkland and our Grade 2*-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
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
What might you bring?
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. But you might consider the following:
- Comfy clothes for meditation, movement and relaxation
- A journal or notepad if you want to write or draw during your time here
- Swimming gear – we have a small pool that’s open in summer. Click here to read more
- Walking boots – we have wonderful footpaths and routes to explore
- Running gear if you’re a jogger. Some participants love to run on the lanes and footpaths near Sharpham
Find out more about staying on retreat in Sharpham Woodland on our Frequently Asked Questions page
Our food & your dietary needs
The 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.
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.
|4.00pm - 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|
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.
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
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE WOODLAND RETREAT DROP OFF POINT IS NOT AT SHARPHAM HOUSE ITSELF
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.
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.
Our gardens are managed organically and we only use bio-degradable cleaning products.
£395 - full board - includes furnished bell tent (single occupancy) and bedding. Please bring your own towel.
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.
Bursaries for Young People
Thanks to a generous donor, we are also able to offer a reduction of 70% of the total costs of a retreat for young people experiencing financial hardship aged between 18-25 years of age. Please contact the Programme Administrator and ask for a Young Persons Bursary application form 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 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 and is currently one of the directors of Sky Blue, a Community Interest Company that operates canoe expeditions on the River Dart from the Sharpham Estate.
Rupert Marques has been practising in the Insight Meditation tradition for over 20 years. He has a background in ecospychology, environmental and outdoor education.
He currently lives and teaches at Ecodharma, a pioneering community in the Spanish Pyrenees supporting individuals and groups working toward social justice and ecological sustainability.
A guiding interest for him is the exploration of how inner work finds its expression in sustaining and enriching our work for ‘the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible’.
Ollie Frame works as an integrative therapist, mindfulness teacher and retreat leader. Trained in Mindfulness-based approaches with the University of Exeter, he runs 8-week courses for the general public, for teachers and students in schools and colleges, and for various other client groups on behalf of Devon County Council. Having completed additional training in Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL), he is especially enthusiastic about self compassion, Metta meditation and other heart-based approaches within the world of mindfulness. Ollie also works as a Polarity therapist and an integrative counsellor, with a particular interest in Psychosynthesis, depth psychology and inner journeying.
Nina began practicing mindfulness in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, attending retreat in Northern India and Nepal and later drawing inspiration from the Insight Meditation tradition and the teachings of Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh.
A former residential coordinator at Sharpham's Barn Retreat, Nina has been facilitating meditations, ceremony and retreats for the past five years. Her practice is grounded in a connection to the land and in contacting moments of ordinary beauty and grace in the every day.
She is interested in exploring how contemplative practices can open up our experience of the world and is passionate about creating opportunities for others to do the same.
How to book easily and securely:
- online on this page
- by phoning 01803 732542
Ring us or email us on [email protected] if you've got any questions.
Please click here to see our booking and cancellations policy.