I love getting out in nature at this time of year and a bit of foraging. An old friend suggested us doing the Wild Women of the Woods NI day retreat and I loved it.
The Wild Women are a brilliant social enterprise, who’s aim is to encourage women to get out and enjoy nature, but just as important is the social element. Women attending their events come from all walks of life with ages ranges from early 20’s to early 70’s.
They offer day retreats and camping experiences, (and can even lend some camping equipment if you don’t have it). Other events will be held at locations where bedrooms are available) I had a particularly busy and frenetic couple of weeks with work, and this day retreat was the perfect antidote.
The event I attended was held at the Red Barn Log Cabin at the foot of Belfast’s Cave Hill Forest Park. (It’s also a available to rent on AirB&B, and is gorgeous). The day was facilitated by the very lovely Rachel and Cathy, who will feed you to within an inch of your life.
When we arrived we were welcomed with coffee and homemade banana bread, and had a chance to meet and chat with the other woman taking part around the cabin’s fire pit. Cathy from Sunflower Massage and Yoga then led us in a really relaxing gentle yoga session before we were fed once again with homemade muffins and mushroom tea (it didn’t taste of mushrooms and was packed with antioxidants).
We then walked up through the Cave Hill led by one of the rangers, Cormac. He was great at showing edible plants and describing the history of the area and was loads of fun.
When we returned to the cabin, Rachel had made dough and we all fashioned our own flat breads and cooked them over an open fire (to much hilarity, turns out cooking with fire isn’t as easy as it looks). After our flatbreads were ready we enjoyed them with nettle soup, followed by chick pea and butternut squash stew. Dessert was fantastic, we toasted marshmallows and made s’mores, had bananas with chocolate wrapped in foil and cooked on the fire and then pineapple grilled and served with coconut yogurt.
Did I mention the prosecco and homemade elderflower cordial too?
These women really know how to throw a retreat, After trekking around the Cave Hill you’ll be starving, and Rachel and Cathy really looked after us. The other women were great craic and groups are small enough that you don’t feel lost in a crowd and you get a chance to actually get to know each other.
Some women came with friends and others came on their own. The Wild Women is a great way to meet new people and by the end of the day phone numbers were being exchanged and people were following each other on social media etc. Some of the group had recently moved to Belfast and others liked getting out into nature but none of their existing friends were into it, and the Wild Women provides a chance to do this.
I don’t know if I’m ready for a night under canvas just yet, but it was one of the most enjoyable days I’ve spent in a long time. Check out Wlid Women of the Woods NI on Facebook to to learn more about what they do and future events.