Feel calm and connected to nature on a Lake District spa break at Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa, complete with forest bathing experiences, relaxing sound massages and stunning views…

Words: Yvonne Martin | Photos: Allan Levy Photography

Relaxing and unwinding is an important part of a spa break. If you’re lucky enough to get away for a stay or a day visit to a spa, it’s probably one of your chief reasons for going there.

However, alongside the massages and the steam room, you may find some more unusual treatments to boost your wellbeing and de-frazzle you.

I needed to unwind when I paid a visit to Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa in Cumbria recently. A combination of stress, back pain and general worry had me feeling a bit below par, physically and emotionally.

So, I was looking forward to trying two treatments during my stay that I hoped would get me feeling calmer and more together – forest bathing and a sound massage.

Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa forest bathing

Forest bathing experience at Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa

You may be familiar with the idea of forest bathing, which is a practice popularised in Japan that has caught on here in the last few years. Shinrin-yoku, as it is known in Japan, is about connecting with nature in the forest, using your senses to really notice your surroundings. It’s not about striding off across the woods and covering as much ground as you can, but rather, slowing down, taking it in and walking mindfully.

It is thought to provide many health benefits, not only from stepping away from everyday pressures for a few hours or even days, but also from inhaling the phytoncides, which are protective compounds emitted by certain trees. Benefits are said to include improved immune system function. It can also help lift your mood and help with stress.

Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa is well placed to provide an experience such as this as it is set in beautiful grounds overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake, and it has some stunning forest areas right there.

Reconnecting with nature

Taking us through the experience was our lovely forest bathing guide Jen Grange from Lakeland Wellbeing.

She began by asking us to quietly take note of our own feelings within our bodies at the start of the experience and give it a score out of 10. This was so that we could see for ourselves at the end whether anything had changed. It’s not giving too much away to say that my score improved by several points by the end of the session.

Jen guided us through meditations and invited us to try different activities in the woods that encouraged us to use our senses.

We listened to all the sounds, from the woodpecker tapping away to the songs of the birds. We breathed in the aromas of the trees and soil, searched for ‘treasure’ on the forest floor and examined the texture of the bark, moss, and lichen with our hands.

One of the best bits for me was when Jen invited us to find a tree to spend some time with. It may sound strange, but I found a really good one! It was an oak tree, and I sat in a nook provided by its base, on a pile of leaves. The shape of the tree fitted around me perfectly. I wasn’t hugging a tree; the tree was hugging me! And I have to say, it felt rather nice.

Sound healing massage at Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa

Later that day we experienced the ‘sound massage’. This is a new treatment at Armathwaite Hall, that involves the ringing of ‘singing bowls’. These are metal bowls which, when struck, give out a resonant sound. It aims to provide a relaxing experience.

The treatment room was beautifully prepared with candles, so it was a calming environment to start with. Rowan Carr took us through the experience, after welcoming us in and explaining what would happen.

During the experience Rowan sounded different-sized bowls which emitted a variety of tones. He moved around the room so that the source of the sound changed, and at times he struck a large bowl positioned between my feet which sent vibrations through the bed.

This part took half an hour, but it flew by and felt like a few minutes because it was very relaxing. The sounds and vibrations were pleasant to hear and feel. They sent me into that relaxed state that you can experience just between being awake and asleep. It ended with the tinkling of the lightest bells.

After that, Rowan asked if I would like to see how it felt with the bowls placed on me and we tried that too, with the bowls moved to positions all the way down from my shoulders to my feet. I felt the vibrations all through my back and limbs. Overall, it left me with a pleasantly spaced out feeling. Rowan was an excellent practitioner, happy to tell us all about the process and clearly passionate about the practice.

Both the forest bathing and the sound massage were great ways to cut off from everyday stresses and unwind. The fact that both were very natural and simple practices appealed to me and they left me feeling much calmer in body and mind.

Spa days and breaks at Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa

Spa days at Armathwaite start from £145 per person and one-night spa breaks start from £375 per couple.

The two-hour forest bathing experience at Armathwaite Hall Hotel & Spa costs £110 per person (based on a minimum of two people booking)

The two-night forest bathing spa break at Armathwaite Hall Hotel & Spa starts from £395 per person (based on a minimum of two people in a standard room) and includes:

  • Two nights dinner, bed & breakfast
  • A 55-minute treatment each in the spa
  • The two-hour forest bathing experience including tea ceremony

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