DIGITAL DETOX: A parent’s wellness retreat to Swinton Bivouac in North Yorkshire


I recently stayed in a tree lodge at Swinton Bivouac and experienced their wellness retreat.  The retreat was a digital detox and the opportunity to spend time outside of my regular routine without having to think about a small human or our very naughty Labrador, writes Blogger Carley. 

I feel I need to start this with a description of myself as a mobile phone addict. As a family we do spend the occasional evening with no electronics, no phones, laptops or even a TV.  It is important to me that we spend time connecting and stepping away from screens. That said I don’t worry about screen usage and I think that it is a luxury that our generation have the ability to access the web in our hands.

To be able to capture precious moments on our phones, connecting with people and being able to work almost anywhere, sometimes in my pj’s, is amazing. I am addicted to my phone and it is an important part of my life.  It provides me with memories, connects me to the people I love and also is a big part of my business.   I don’t think my phone usage is anymore than my friends.

swinton bivouac digital detox estate

For me it is about balance and the break from my phone gave me some chance to reflect on my personal use.  There were so many times over the weekend when I went to reach for my phone, to add a reminder, to take a picture, to text my husband.  Having no phone to use focused my mind on the amount of times I pick up my phone.  It was much more than I would have thought. That said I was staying on the edge of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and there were so may beautiful things to photograph.  I remember when my daughter started school the teachers were clear that we should not be on our phones in the playground.  We need to be receptive to our children’s descriptions of their days not looking at something else.  This has stayed with me and I am always ready to hear about her day and have my phone away. I am not confident that had this not been raised that I would have been as disciplined at the school gates. Having clear boundaries around phone use and family time is really important to me and I need to keep checking in to make sure that my phone use isn’t affecting my parenting or interaction.

The Swinton Estate is the perfect location for a wellness break and there was plenty to do to keep my mind occupied without thinking too much about my phone.  After checking into the tree lodge we were treated to a sound bath with Gill McCreadie we spent some time getting to know each other over dinner before going aback to our lodges for the evening. The food was amazing and all locally sourced. It is lovely to have someone else do the cooking.

The second day started with a sunrise woodland walk with Faith Douglas. I was a bit apprehensive about the 6am start but the weather was kind to us and it was a great way to start the day. Hearing the birds and really taking time to look around whilst the sun came out was a good way to start the day. By the time we got back to the lodge we had our breakfast delivered before we were treated to a trip to the spa on the Swinton Estate. The spa is one of the leading spa destinations in the uk. I had not realised how big the spa was and the range of facilities including a large pool, thermal facilities and a range of treatments. For the brave there is an outdoor pool, which is bio-filtered, and oxygenated chemical free water – it was a little chilly for me but a good experience on an early autumn day. There are plenty of loungers all around the spa and all have a butler service! The thermal suite was full of areas to relax, a therapeutic foot spa, steam bath, salt steam room and Finnish sauna as well as an alfresco sauna. We spent two hours there on day two and then there is the opportunity to return at the end of the retreat.

Unlike other spas locally it was not crowded and felt really calming.  After another delicious meal we were back in the forest with Faith for a silent forest walk. I was quite worried about my ability to be silent for two hours – it was touch and go at times when I tripped and almost impulsively made a noise and on another occasion when we came across another group in the forest. The woodland and setting is perfect for deducting stress levels and soaking up the setting in mindful way.

To be out for a walk without having to worry or be responsible for anyone else. No naughty dog to call back or child to tell to be careful. It felt so tranquil and peaceful – the views were stunning!

After our evening meal we were went up to sit around a campfire and experience reiki drumming – I had never experience it before but would defiantly recommend.  On the third day there was an energising sound bath before leaving at lunchtime.

It would be much easier to have a digital detox if I was with my family.  The lack of communication was difficult for me.  Over the summer my daughter went on a camp with guides for three nights and that was equally difficult.  We are so used to being able to check in with one another.  Times like this are helpful to reflect on how me communicate.

The retreat was great to connect to nature, I really enjoyed the forest bathing and the silent forest walks.  There were several times that the view was so stunning I longed to be able to grab my phone and take a picture but I refrained.

Working on my devices for several hours a day I am always accessible, answering emails into the evening.  This break has made me think that I have to be able to find a balance. Not to get into a technology trap, to share fun experiences outside of technology both as a family and personally.

It can be hard to stop the reflex of grabbing my phone, I am going to be more mindful and teach my daughter what life without technology was like.  Spend time outside smelling the fresh air, noticing the sound of the trees and making connections.  As well as us having screen free time at home I am going to make it a priority to have phone free time when we are out.  I am a true believer in collecting memories and not things and need to remember that  sometimes it is ok to have memories in my head and no photos.

A digital detox has been interesting and I would love to do it again with my family.

The next wellness retreat is on the 21-23rd June 2020. Costs are £279.50 per person based on two people sharing.

Have a look at the website for a range of activities and events in the meantime.

Pop over to my blog to see more information about the Swinton Estate and some more photos of the retreat.






Pop over to my blog to see more information about the Swinton Estate and some more photos of the retreat.

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