Being at the Cottage, Abergavenny, Wales

Empowering solo rural retreat to help business leaders find new ways of thinking

Talking therapy
Art & Craft
Holistic healing
Best go solo




Best for:
Professionals within organisations and self-employed entrepreneurs committed to changing the way they think and how they approach problem solving

Not for:
Those looking to make friends, socialise or who are fearful of being left in a house alone at night

In a nutshell:

This inspirational and mind-changing solo retreat set deep in the countryside near Abergavenny was set up by coach Wilma Allan. In private coaching alongside time out alone she helps business leaders and entrepreneurs revitalise the way they think and approach change within their organisations or own businesses. Whether you come to chew over a problem, get help to make a big decision or just to rejuvenate the way you approach your work, the combination of a beautiful cottage in the woods, a withdrawal from tech and powerful coaching will help you reach a Eureka! moment. Choose a four day Delve retreat, which can be arranged on dates to suit you from a Monday to a Friday, or a shorter Dabble retreat over a weekend. Come alone, or with a colleague you want to work with.

Being at the Cottage UK Queen of Retreats
Being at the Cottage UK Queen of Retreats
Being at the Cottage UK Queen of Retreats
Being at the Cottage UK Queen of Retreats
Being at the Cottage UK Queen of Retreats
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 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.

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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

The purpose of the retreat is to connect to your subconscious so that you can make the profound and creative decisions necessary to drive your organisation forward. This is done through a number of different activities/processes, which Wilma calls the “subtle dynamics”, and they include spending time alone, going offline, and two lengthy conversations with her. There are also a number of creative things to engage with in the cottage such as painting and sketching, colouring and bread-making. Long hikes in the hills are on offer, and a yoga mat is available if you want to do your own personal practice.

The Delve retreat is a solo retreat for innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs, a 4-night, all inclusive, coach supported boutique business retreat that combines the subtle dynamics of being at the cottage and the intensity of spending time alone, with expansive and lively conversations with Wilma.
You’ll begin working together a couple of months before your stay with initial conversations over the phone to learn about you and your vision.
The lightly choreographed agenda of this 4-night retreat allows you to go with your gut and listen to your intuition. There is ample opportunity to stimulate expansive thinking, adjust your focus to get the essential change of perspective and clarify the details as you kindle something extraordinary.

The “Dabble” Retreat is a solo business retreat, a 3-night, self-catered retreat experience, with the option of adding one activity whilst there, either a session of Imagining On Purpose in a guided visualisation session or a session on probing conversation including coaching. Designed to help entrepreneurs and business leaders with the development of their venture while they enjoy the independence and flexibility of self-catering, this is a space in which to dabble quietly, soak up the tranquillity of being in the forest, and get a glimpse of what’s lying in your hidden seams of inspiration.

Wilma Allan is a shrewd and intelligent listener, and will unhesitatingly challenge assumptions and beliefs in order to disrupt conditioned thoughts.  Adept at taking clients well beyond the scope of their usual self-interrogation, she helps to sculpt the fragments of insights gleaned while at the cottage, into more than the sum of their parts. Wilma recognises that spending extended periods of time alone is a powerful but under-utilised tool in the creative process. She believes that the cottage, in its rare environment, offers an uncommon opportunity for innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs to distill their thoughts and ideas in their pursuit of something extraordinary. Her coaching begins in the months before you arrive with several in-depth telephone conversations. It also continues after you have left with a document summarising all your conversations and her suggestions during the retreat, and the option to continue the conversations on your return.

Wilma is an accredited Personal Performance Coach since 2008 and took her training deeper and qualified as a Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming and a Master Spiritual Practitioner. For several years she specialised in coaching entrepreneurs in their relationship with money. Some of the books she recommends on retreat include: ‘Source’ – Joseph a Jaworski; ‘The Power of Intention’ – Wayne Dyer; ‘The Power of Now’ – Eckhart Tolle; ‘The Secrets of 6 Figure Women’ – Barbara Stanny and ‘Creating Affluence’ – Deepak Chopra.

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.

Wilma suggests you give up your tech on arrival to avoid temptation. But even if you keep it, it’s not much use to you as there is no mobile signal and no 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 four days. A landline is provided for emergency contact.

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. If you are coming with a colleague then a bed can be made up in the second bedroom, which is used for art and reading if you are alone. 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. 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.

If you are interested in stargazing you can make use of the telescope and there is a collection of books including ones about birds and stars and some self-improvement titles along with a smattering of novels. The kitchen has a Rayburn oven which keeps it nice and toasty and there is a table and chairs to sit and eat at. Upstairs the second bedroom is where you will have your treatments and where you can sit and paint or read. The whole cottage is equipped with everything you might need for your stay including binoculars, hiking back pack and notebooks.


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.

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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 nutribullet 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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