Wildlife Discovery retreat

New for 2023: Get up close and personal with nature at Sharpham


Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts
                   Rachel Carson, environmentalist

Retreatants explore our rewilding fields next to the River Dart

This retreat lets you get close to wildlife on the Sharpham Estate and reconnect with the natural world through mindfulness practice.

Sharpham is managed organically and we have been actively rewilding for the last three years, leading to increased wildlife across the estate.

You'll have the chance to experience the wonder of insects, butterflies, wildflowers, birds and mammals that are making Sharpham their home.

You'll spend time with wildlife experts exploring the habitats and species across the estate.

You don’t need any prior knowledge and activities will be tailored to the season and the weather.

This retreat is for you if you want to

  • Get close to wildlife and nature in an amazing location on the banks of the River Dart
  • Learn about our native wildlife and how to identify what you see
  • Develop a wider ecological awareness and understanding of your place in the world as part of, rather than separate from, nature
  • Explore the benefits of nature-based mindfulness, mindfulness meditation and nature connection
  • Rest and rejuvenate whilst deepening your connection with nature and your appreciation of wildlife

Retreatants meditating on the South Lawn beside The Coach House

What you’ll experience on this retreat

Our rewilding fields REWILDING TOUR
Introduction to our approach to rewilding and managing the land. Learn about the burgeoning rewilding movement in the UK.
A stonechat in close up

Experience the early morning dawn chorus with our local bird expert. Learn to distinguish some common calls and songs and how to identify different species.

Red Campion close up

Learn how to identify our native plants and discover their medicinal and culinary uses with our botanist Lisa.

Speckled brown butterfly

Get out in our rewilding meadows searching for bugs, beetles and butterflies and do a bit of sweep-netting.

Burnet Moth

There are over 2500 species of moths in the UK. Set up our moth trap overnight and discover the secret world of our night flying moths.

A Barn Owl at Sharpham

Sharpham is home to over 10 species of native bats, including a colony of Lesser Horseshoes in the Coach House. Witness these as they emerge at dusk using our bat detectors and spot our resident Barn Owls as they go hunting.

Identifiying trees on the Sharpham Estate

Identify our native trees and enjoy a spot of forest bathing.


  • Three daily 30-minute meditations including guided, sitting, walking and nature-based meditation
  • Opportunities to share your experience in supporting community
  • Periods of silence and quiet contemplation, including spending time in nature on the wider estate
  • Full-board accommodation 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
  • A single-occupancy room 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. 
  • A safe and supportive community with like-minded people, sharing experiences in the kitchen gardens and on the wider Estate
  • Delicious, healthy, home-cooked vegetarian food that regularly receives rave reviews

Retreatants study grasses with Mike Cooke


Facilities in The Coach House

A double ensuite room 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.

Retreatants dining together at The Coach House

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
  • A speckled brown butterfly at Sharphampay 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

  • accessibility 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 needsDelicious veggie and vegan food, including cakes like this

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. As far as possible, we try to use produce from our gardens which retreatants help to 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 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

We have an accessible en-suite bedroom in the Coach House that you can learn more 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


Retreatants explore our rewilding fields



This will vary to accommodate the wildlife activities such as the Dawn Chorus and Night Walk.

Day 1: Arrive between 3 - 5pm for Welcome Meeting at 5pm and settling in

Mornings Afternoons
6.30am – morning movement/meditation 12.30pm - meditation
7.30am - household tasks 1.00pm - lunch
8.00am – breakfast 2.00pm – free time or group walk
9.00am - 12.30pm– wildlife activities  5.00pm - home groups
  6.30pm – supper
  7.30pm - meditation
  9.00pm – Personal time (Coach House moves into silence until 9.00am the next day)

Final day: depart by 11am

The retreat will move into silence each evening from 9pm – 9am and on Wednesday until 5pm.

It was amazing and I would recommend to anyone. Sharpham is the most beautiful place, the food and accommodation fantastic and the leaders of our retreat were both knowledgeable and experienced - but also really friendly warm and fun. I had a very moving experience and would definitely go 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.


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.


I won't hesitate to recommend the 6-night nature-based mindfulness retreat at the Coach House, Sharpham Trust. It is only afterwards that I am fully appreciating how much I have benefitted.


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

View of the Coach House with a rose in bloom

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

Retreatants view down the River Dart valley


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.

Eco-gardens at Sharpham

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 of 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.

Rate Price
Standard Rate £545
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  
Benefactor Rate £625
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  
Supported Rate £495
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

Volunteer Coordinator: Rachel Cottam

Volunteer Coordinator: Rachel Cottam

Rachel Cottam is a practising meditator and doctor. 

She originally came to Sharpham as a retreatant but is now balancing her role as a GP in Brighton with helping to support retreatants at The Coach House.

After working through Sharpham's guided meditations, and then doing an online course in mindfulness, Rachel realised that she wanted to develop a meditation and mindful practice and train to teach too.


Lisa Carnell - Wildlife Discovery retreat leader

Lisa Carnell - Wildlife Discovery retreat leader

Lisa has many years’ experience teaching ecology, natural history, wild plant identification and foraging in the field, across the seasons.

Lisa says "When people tune in, nature has the incredible ability to bring awe and wonder, to calm, to heal, bring perspective and stimulate the intellect in many ways".

Lisa’s passion for plants was ignited during a windy but wonderful university botanical survey on Cader Idris Mountain in Wales. It developed deeply during her plant survey training across a great range of Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserves. She started on her path of teaching outdoors with the Field Studies Council in Wales and knew from then on that she always wanted to work sharing knowledge about plants and the natural world to people of all ages.

She says: "I feel exhilarated and alive when I am with people and am able to ignite their interest and open up a new awareness of our local nature through first hand experience in our life-enhancing countryside".

Lisa is The Sharpham Trust's Education and Events Coordinator. Previously she worked with the Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust for many years, and as a Biology teacher before that.

Mike Cooke - Ecologist

Mike Cooke - Ecologist

Mike’s career in conservation spans 30 years, with specialisms in wildlife surveys, habitat assessment and ecological evaluation. 

He has worked with nature conservation training organisation Ambios since 2005 and has played a central role in the development of its programmes over the last 10 years. 

At Ambios, he oversees training in species identification, wildlife monitoring techniques, field ecology and ecological restoration approaches. He  also provides continuous residential support for trainees as they progress through their placements.

Retreats & Events

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.