The Coach House: Connecting with the qualities of the heart - 4-night self-compassion & nature-connection retreats
When our hearts expand...we have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others
- Thich Nhat Hanh, peace activist and mindfulness pioneer
Explore how heart-based practices like self-compassion and loving kindness along with our nature-based approach to mindfulness can help to restore and nourish you in your daily life.
You'll be cared for full-board, with plenty of time for rest, reflection and nature connection in the very special location of the Sharpham Estate.
Many people can be kind and supportive of others, whilst struggling to apply this same attitude to themselves. All too often we slip into patterns of judging and criticising ourselves harshly, a habitual yet unhelpful strategy, making the challenges that we face even more difficult.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in practices that cultivate self-compassion and kindness. There's an expanding body of research showing the positive effect such practices have on emotional well-being, physical health, personal relationships and avoiding burn-out.
These retreats, involving skilled and trained leaders, draw on recently-developed and evidence-backed approaches such as Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living (MBCL) and the work of Paul Gilbert, founder of Compassion Focused
This retreat is for you if you
- would like to connect more with the qualities of the heart, such as compassion, kindness, gratitude and sympathetic joy
- want to deepen your mindfulness practice and learn a new set of practices within this approach
- find yourself criticising or judging yourself harshly
- want to learn wiser and more helpful ways to relate to difficulties
- would like to spend some time in a peaceful and beautiful setting surrounded by nature
- are interested in understanding yourself better and learning about how and why we get into unhelpful patterns
During this retreat you'll
- experience guided meditations and periods of silence and quiet contemplation
- learn self-compassion and nature-based mindfulness practices that can support you in your daily life
- have the chance to take mindfulness and compassion based practices into the outdoors through walking, nature connection and sensing activities (weather permitting)
- have a chance to learn about & witness our efforts to re-wild the Sharpham Estate
- stay full-board in a Grade II-listed Georgian Coach House set within Capability Brownian parkland, with Grade 2*-listed gardens designed by Percy Cane in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty close to nature, amid breath-taking scenery on the banks of the River Dart
- have a single-occupancy room and your own space, with free time to deeply rest and reconnect with yourself, far from the busy-ness of daily life.
- a safe and supportive community with like-minded people, sharing experiences and daily tasks including working in the kitchen gardens and on the wider Estate
- enjoy delicious, healthy, home-cooked vegetarian & vegan food that regularly receives rave reviews
Facilities in The Coach House
The Grade II-listed Coach House has been sympathetically converted to create accommodation in four wings surrounding a central courtyard.
The Coach House has 18 bedrooms, 12 of which are en-suite. The 6 others share 3 bathrooms, one for each pair of rooms.
We have an accessible ground-floor bedroom with en-suite bathroom in the Western Wing of The Coach House. Please contact us to book this.
The Eastern Wing features a lounge, library, kitchen and has a contemporary timber-frame extension which serves as a dining room and meditation/meeting space.
The extension has large French doors which open out on to a patio and garden with direct access out on to the south-facing lawns.
Not all of the gardens or the estate have disabled access, so do contact us to discuss your needs and what is possible.
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 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
- accessiblity information
- why we encourage you to come on your own and not with partners or friends
- what the difference is between our retreats
Our food & your dietary needs
We have a fully stocked, mostly organic and vegetarian kitchen. The main meal is at lunch time and is prepared by our Cook supported by retreatants. We try to use produce from our gardens as much as possible which retreatants help grow.
We can accommodate gluten-free and/or vegan dietary needs. However, our kitchen is not gluten, dairy nor nut-free. We do not provide gluten-free bread, but you are welcome to bring your own.
Please make sure you include dietary restrictions and any food allergies on your Booking Form. We may need to communicate further with you about specifics. The booking form is sent as a link once you have booked and paid for a retreat.
Our water is provided from our own spring, UV treated and filtered.
Your physical and mental health
This retreat is suitable for you if you are new to mindfulness, or you are 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 clinically diagnosed psychiatric illness such as bipolar disorder, psychosis or current self-harming. Click here for more information and for our booking process
Given the nature of self-compassion practices, it is common for old trauma to arise, particularly around Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
We ask that if you have been subject to any ACEs that you discuss with a psychologist or therapist before attending to see if this retreat is appropriate for you at this time.
We have an accessible en-suite bedroom in the Coach House that you can learn about here
I have been shown that I can be strong and I do have inner power if I get back to nature
- Sharpham Trust retreatant
Typical retreat schedule
Day 1: Arrive between 3 - 5pm for Welcome Meeting at 5pm and settling in
|7.00am - wake up||12.20pm - meditation|
|7.30am – morning movement/meditation||1.00pm - lunch|
|8.30am - household tasks||3.30pm – free time or group walk|
|9.00am – breakfast||5.00pm - afternoon session|
|10.45am – home groups (silence ends)||6.00pm – supper|
|8.00pm - meditation|
|9.00pm – personal time|
Final day: depart by 11am
I recently completed the 4-night retreat at The Coach House and I have completely fallen for this very special place. The grounds are wonderful, especially the ancient yew tree, and the meditation programme was wonderful. Delicious food and great company, I’ll certainly be back.
Absolutely beautiful setting. Very skilled facilitators. Wonderful food. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that the retreat at The Coach House totally exceeded any expectations for myself and others. So incredible to experience meaningful human connection again and embrace mindfulness.
Wonderful retreat at the Coach House - mindfulness in nature. Very nourishing and I feel rejuvenated
Set in beautiful surroundings, Sharpham's Coach House is a welcoming and relaxing environment in which to take a break from the normal pressures of daily life. The staff are attentive and supportive, the food is delicious and the meditation sessions and time away from screens gave me greater perspective. The week as a whole encouraged me to slow down and to take time to appreciate simple pleasures more. I will definitely return to Sharpham having discovered this haven. Highly recommended.
This retreat takes place in The Coach House, a historic Grade II-listed building behind Sharpham House set in a Capability Brownian landscape with stunning views over the steeply-wooded River Dart.
Click here for our How to Find Us page on this website.
Click here to view, print or download directions and a map to The Coach House
Click here view and download walking/cycling directions to The Coach House
If you have a medical condition that requires you to have an en-suite room, please contact our Programme Administrator on the number below as these rooms are limited and are bookable on a first-come first-served basis.
Just to let you know, we have poor mobile phone coverage – which we see as a virtue. While there is wi-fi in The Coach 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 are in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
We take sustainability seriously.
All of the hot water and heating in The Coach House is produced by a state-of-the-art biomass woodchip boiler and we have 2 large photo-voltaic solar panel arrays on barn rooftops feeding into Sharpham energy.
Our gardens are managed organically and we only use bio-degradable cleaning products.
The Sharpham Trust is committed to ensuring that retreats at The Coach House are accessible to all - regardless if income.
All rooms are comfortable single rooms, with either an ensuite or a shared bathroom. All meals, bedding and towels are included. Rooms are randomly allocated, unless you have medical needs relating to your room allocation. If you have such a need, let us know on your booking form which will be sent to you once you have booked.
|Paying the Standard Rate means you will be contributing towards our running costs, supporting the work of The Coach House and helping retreatants of lower incomes to access our retreats|
|If you are able to pay the Benefactor Rate, you'll be supporting others who cannot afford to benefit from a Coach House retreat on The Sharpham Estate. Your choice to pay this rate will help us with the running costs of The Coach House, 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|
|For those unable to pay the Standard or Benefactor Rate|
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 person to go on retreat here through our bursary scheme, you can give online quickly and easily by clicking here
How to book easily and securely:
- online on this page
- by phoning 01803 731803
Ring us or email us on [email protected] if you've got any questions.
Please click here to see our booking and cancellations policy.
Do check our Calendar to see and book for our events - or join our mailing list by clicking here to be kept in touch about Sharpham Trust news, retreats & events.