Being At The Cottage, Abergavenny, Wales

Empowering solo rural retreat for busy innovators and entrepreneurs with a compelling vision for change

Book on dates to suit you. Book on to the four-day night ‘Delve’ retreat, which takes place Monday to Friday. There is also the option of the more intensive seven-night ‘Deepen’ retreat which takes place Monday to Monday.

Dabble – Bare Bones self-catering £350 or Dabble Plus – a 3 night chef-catered retreat with coaching £750 or The 4-night Delve retreat (£2500) from a Monday to Friday or the 7-night Deepen Retreat – Monday to Monday (from £3000).

Just you.

Best for: Busy innovators, entrepreneurial thinkers and emerging leaders who want the time and space to give their vision the creative attention it deserves.

Not for: Those looking just for a relaxing break from work or who are fearful of being left in a house alone at night.

In a nutshell: This ground-breaking solo retreat hidden deep in the countryside near Abergavenny was set up by Growth and Performance coach Wilma Allan. It helps innovators, entrepreneurial thinkers and emerging leaders develop their vision so that perfect pieces of the puzzle show up at the right time, time after time.  Wilma understands that your fastest route to creativity and insights is about knowing how to spend more time being ‘in’ time, then learning how to stay there. The combination of a beautiful cottage in the woods, a withdrawal from tech and powerful coaching will help you reach your Eureka! moment.  Long hikes in the hills are on offer, and a yoga mat is available for your own personal practice. Also, delicious, locally-sourced, chef-prepared meals designed specifically around your likes and dislikes. Each 4 or 7 night retreat is book-ended with finely tuned, 360 support to ensure optimum results.

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Being at the Cottage UK Queen of Retreats

What’s Queenly?

The sum of all the parts. The cottage in the woods is therapeutic enough but add to it the coaching, the gentle suggestions to deepen thought, the artistic activities available and the time alone without distraction and you have something truly life-changing. You also have coaching to prepare you for your retreat, follow up and support on your return home.

What’s Lowly?

Some people may struggle with the removal of tech, particularly being without access to email for four days or more.

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Antonia Windsor reviews this private, empowering solo retreat in Wales for business leaders and finds a new way forward in her role as the artistic director of a theatre company.

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Retreat Activities

Even with a compelling vision you can't rely on luck alone. The retreats demonstrate how to access inspiration whenever YOU want to by engaging your subconscious.  There are a number of creative things to do in the cottage that help you to do this, such as painting and sketching, colouring and walking and talking.  This also includes the impact of spending time alone, being offline, and two or 3 in-depth coaching conversations with Wilma lasting up to 3 hours.

This 4-night solo retreat is book-ended by 360 support before and after your retreat, and is a thoughtfully curated experience for innovators, entrepreneurial thinkers and emerging leaders.  Culminating in the 4-night retreat, it is an opportunity to trigger insights, tap into intuition and reflect, prompting game-changing vision time.

8 weeks prior to your arrival, you begin work with Wilma to ensure you are fully prepared, so that being at the cottage delivers the maximum impact possible.  While you are at the cottage, you will get the most profound experience of being IN time. With enough structure to keep you focused, your experience is laced with small, subtle touches which encourage expansive thinking, nudging the development of creative solutions.

There is ample opportunity to stimulate expansive thinking and adjust your focus to get the essential change of perspective making sure you find the perfect pieces of the puzzle showing up time after time.

The Dabble Bare Bones retreat is a three night self-catering retreat - pack your vision and leave the rest behind.  There is a plethora of activities at the cottage to stimulate creative thinking, to pause and step back while you adjust your perspective for a few days. Or choose a Dabble Plus - a 3 night chef-catered retreat with coaching before and after with Wilma to refine your thoughts, get traction and understand about being 'in' time.

This includes a 7-night solo retreat, plus Being IN Time - a course of 5 Lessons and Conversations which build on the momentum of the retreat.   These begin straight after your stay, ensuring you maintain a clear line of sight as you develop your vision.

You begin working with Wilma 8 weeks prior to your retreat to make sure you are fully prepared.  This includes identifying the area of your vision that needs your immediate attention, removing any blocks so that you have a clear path to taking big leaps in your thought processes and introducing you to the concept of linear time versus vertical time and how and when to use each one.

While you are at the cottage, you will get the most profound experience of being IN time. With a full 7 days to step back, your brain has the optimum opportunity to relax and refresh.  During this time, and with the experienced coaching and additional services that are included, you will be able to unlock free-thinking, learn how to access your inspiration whenever you want to and follow the tried and tested principles that allow perfect pieces of the puzzle show up at the right time, time after time.

Wilma is an experienced Growth and Performance coach.  She is a shrewd and intelligent listener, and will unhesitatingly, and gently, challenge assumptions and beliefs in order to disrupt conditioned thoughts.  She is skilful at taking clients well beyond the scope of their usual self-interrogation and helps to sculpt the fragments of insights gleaned while at the cottage, into more than the sum of their parts.

Having lived on her own at the cottage for many years, Wilma understands the power of spending time alone and the role it plays in the creative process.  Being at the cottage is a profound example of being in time and offers a rare opportunity for clients to distil their thoughts and ideas in their pursuit of something extraordinary.

Wilma has been coaching since 2008 and has qualifications in Personal Performance Coaching, Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming and a Master Spiritual Practitioner.

The cottage is situated in woodland that rises up to a plateau. There are a range of different walks (or runs) that you can take directly from the cottage ranging from a 40-minute stroll to a 2.5-hour hike. You can choose to have your coaching sessions out on a walk or to take solitary strolls to ponder some of the questions she sets you.

Engaging in artistic activities can help you access your subconscious. Wilma makes coil pots and if you want a lesson she is happy to include one as part of the retreat. Paints, brushes, paper and pencils are available for you to use as you wish. Choose between acrylic, oil pastels, watercolour or charcoal and try to let go of your conscious mind.

One of the house rules is that Wilma will look after any tech for you during your stay. There is no mobile signal or  wifi at the cottage. Wilma believes it is important to be without distractions from the outside world if you want to make the most of your stay. There is a landline at the cottage.

A one-hour massage is on offer in the second bedroom of the cottage just after arrival on your first day to help you transition into a relaxed frame of mind and leave the cares of work behind. A choice of male or female therapist is available. To help you access your inner self, an intimate session with sound-healer Chrys Blanchard and her eclectic collection of instruments is also included in the cost of your stay. Gongs, singing bowls, drums, musical instruments and voice are used in a bespoke session that is tailored to your needs.

Personal spaces

You have the run of the entire cottage. Your bedroom has a comfortable double bed with goose down duvet and feather pillows. A shower is in the room and there is also a separate bathroom with full-size tub and organic toiletries, including bergamot, rose geranium, lavender and tea tree essential oils. Bath towels are huge and soft and you also have a towelling bath robe or fluffy fleecy one depending on your preference. You will be woken each morning by the sound of birdsong from the trees outside your window. Downstairs an old-fashioned school desk is the place to sit and write, while on a fine day you can head up to the table and chairs at the top of the garden, where you get an excellent view of the cottage and woodland below.

Insider Tips

Come mentally prepared. The retreat will work best if you have already got into the mindset before arrival. Wilma will suggest books to read if you ask for homework. Some of the books she recommends on retreat include: ‘Source’ – Joseph a Jaworski;  ‘The Leadership Lab’ – Chris Lowe and Pippa Malmgren; ‘A New Earth’ – Eckhart Tolle. Pack walking boots and waterproofs as you will want to get out and enjoy the majestic landscape.

When to Go

The cottage is centrally heated so you will be toasty even in the colder months. In spring you get to see the baby lambs on the heathland, while in summer the area turns purple with heather. Autumn is also a magical time when the leaves change colour. You will probably feel most isolated in winter, which is a good or bad thing depending on what you want to get out of the retreat.

Shared places

The cottage is in a remote setting sheltered below the great domed moorland of the majestic Black Mountains in the Llanthony Valley and surrounded by forest. Without WiFi or TV it’s immersed in timeless tranquillity and really is on the fringe of 21st-century life. The living room is cottagey and comfortable with a large wood-burning stove at its centre.


Before your stay you fill in a “food for thought” document listing all of your favourite foods, any allergies or intolerances, and examples of what you like best for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You then have your bespoke prepared meals ready and waiting for you in the fridge or freezer so that you can heat them in the Rayburn when you are ready. Vegans and vegetarians can be catered for.

A list of menus suggests the order you might like to consume the dishes in with suggested lunches and dinners and advice on reheating such as “lunch: Boscht soup. Heat in a saucepan until gently simmering. Serve with dill and sour cream” or “dinner: roast belly of pork with roasted mixed vegetables and braised red cabbage. Warm together in the Rayburn until piping hot.” The result is delicious, home-cooked meals that verge on restaurant-quality that you can eat when and where you want. Sometimes these are cooked and then frozen in advance for logistical reasons.

Alcohol will also be provided on request. Tea and coffee are also provided along with other drinks that you will have put on your form – like juices. A juicer is available if you want to make your own. The aim is that you get well-nourished with foods you personally love.

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At the moment the cottage is supplied by electricity from a 100% sustainable supplier. Wilma is looking to replace the oil fired Rayburn with a reconditioned electric Aga and plans to donate 5% of profits to Tools for Self Reliance Cymru, a small local charity that takes unwanted tools, reconditions them and has two shipments a year to east Africa. As far as possible they use eco friendly cleaning products. Plants in the garden are insect friendly and encourage bio-diversity. Almost all the weeding is done by hand avoiding the need for weed killer.


Llanthony Abergavenny Monmouthshire NP7 7NW UK

Airport: Bristol

Train station: Abergavenny or Newport

Transfer time: 55 mins from Newport or 25 mins from Abergavenny station and 1 hour 25 mins from Bristol airport.

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The cottage in the forest’. When I was a small child, my favourite story was ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’. Here everything was ‘just right’. Being At The Cottage is a magical experience. The personal value is immense. The cottage is beautiful and felt like home as soon as I arrived. The quality of care that Wilma has put into ensuring thqt everything is perfect cannot be praised highly enough. It’s a unique experience and one that will stay with me.


What an incredible experience Being At The Cottage provides. It is unique because of YOU, the cottage & the Subtle Dynamics. I now comfortably see myself as a leader in my corporate role. Being At The Cottage allowed for that key transformation and I am only just beginning to see the ripple effect into all areas of my life.

Jane Heaton

This was a magical and peaceful time. I am much clearer about the shape of the future, even though it’s still forming and there’s more exploring to be done. The overall balance and combination of the cottage, the conversations, nature, the peace and stillness, yet the aliveness of the setting, all worked wonderfully together.