Vital Detox, Somerset, England
Seriously effective juice fast detox led by friendly experts
Best for: Finally finding out what’s been eating you
Not for: Those who like a highly discreet, white coat approach
Vital Detox is a properly done seven night detox retreat that pivots on a juice fast, group talks and one-to-one sessions with seasoned therapists who have ‘been there’ and can show you how to live differently. Founder Anna Tolson and her team have been running this programme since 2010 at a converted 16th century farm within walking distance of Glastonbury Tor. Come for a well structured programme with heaps of support and plenty of laughs, along with ample time for rest, reflection or whatever you need at the time. This is a real chance to restart your digestive system and re-educate yourself on health and nutrition – you’ll go on your own personal journey and relieve yourself of whatever is weighing you down emotionally. Chances are you’ll leave with a whole new outlook on your life.
The ongoing but non-intrusive support from the team that keeps you on track from start to finish. And the feeling of being on top of the world looking out from Glastonbury Tor.
The Group Room is very pleasant but it would be good to have a different, perhaps more sacred, space for yoga class, just to give variety. If you miss the transfer from the station a taxi to the venue costs £40 which you’ll need to pay for.
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On this retreat you’ll cleanse with juices, soups and supplements served every three hours between 9am and 8pm. Your day is then taken up with self-adminstered colonics, talks, one-to-one sessions, morning mediation and afternoon yoga, walks and projector films. In between, dip in the pool, read a book or go for an amble around the grounds.
Vital Detox is a cleansing process for the body – primarily the gut and digestive system – as well as the mind. You’ll be served three fresh, organic juices and two hot broths every day, with a range of supplements such as bentonite clay, digestive enzymes, psyllium husk and intestinal support designed to help cleanse the bowel and collect old toxic matter from the bowel so that it can be washed away in the accompanying colonics. Different juices are prepared according to each person’s individual needs, so don’t worry if, for example, weight loss is not your goal, or you have existing health conditions, as all this will be taken into account. You’ll leave with guidance on what to eat in the coming week and a few recipes, and once home received emails from the therapists with info they’d talked about in sessions, links and book recommendations.
The programme is peppered with group wellbeing sessions led by one of the team on nutrition, emotional wellbeing, life choices, addiction and co-dependency. These start after the midday juice with a daily talk on nutrition with Fiona, a Natural Health Practitioner and Master Herbalist who’s also trained in various healing practices. Day by day you’ll examine the key elements of physical health and what we eat and what we do with our bodies. You’ll unpick health myths, learn about new research, and collect a considerable amount of information on how to live well for your constitution.
On the first day of the retreat one of the team will go through your health questionnaire with you and together you’ll identify your goals for the retreat taking into account your medical history and any emotional issues that you’d like to work through. The team will then decide which two therapists would best serve you based on the issues you want to resolve. You can have two, one to one, therapy sessions included in the price of your retreat.There are five members of the team living on site with you during your retreat week. They offer a range of therapeutic tools to help clear any emotional issues, one of which is a Journey. This is a well recognised and powerful healing process that guides you, gently yet effectively, directly to the root cause of any longstanding emotional difficulty. The other sessions available for your second session could be with a renowned Life Coach and Astrologer or an extremely experienced Addiction and Relationship therapist. These sessions are included in the price so that no-one misses out on the most powerfully healing aspect of the retreat week.
You’re advised to do these daily, or more often if you feel the need. Each cottage is set up with a gravity colonic board (also known as a Colema Board) or a Clysmatic system (which sits on the loo seat) which works better in smaller ensuite bathrooms and for anyone who might not feel stable lying on the board. If you don’t like the system allocated to you then you can swap. Fiona, an experienced Colonic Hydrotherapist, gives a detailed demo to the group and then visits you in your bathroom to talk it over and make sure you’re confident to go it alone. She’s also available to answer queries all through the week on this and any other health matters.
Book reflexology, Indian head massage, acupuncture, Ayurvedic facial massage, full body massage, ear candling, abdominal massage or a Journey Massage as extras during your stay. The Journey Massage is deep bodywork in a safe setting where you can release emotions that might have become caught in the body, and goes hand in hand with The Journey Process talking therapy that’s included in your retreat package.Long standing Vital Detox therapists, Andrew and Rachel, are both multi-qualified with many years experience in body treatments and the wider field of holistic health. You’ll be treated in either the Pamper Cabin, which is bright, sunny and has lovely views of the countryside, or the Shepherds Hut, which is quirky, snug and warm. Therapists use The Bio Mat – a Far Infrared heated mat which passes healing heat through layers of black tourmaline and amethyst crystal. All treatments can be booked in advance or during your stay. They cost £35 for half an hour or £65 for an hour.
At 8am Fiona leads a daily meditation in the Group Room. Informal, seated on chairs and beanbags (you are invited to come along in pyjamas if you so wish!) the session is focused on simple breathing techniques, body awareness, quietening of the mind and calming of the system. A great way to start the day, it’s especially useful if you are new to mindfulness and would like something you can work with at home.At 4.30pm Ruth comes in to teach yoga. It’s a gentle and very accessible Hatha based class, held in the Group Room (mats and props provided), again perfect for beginners. The class is slow and considered, and includes breathing exercises (Pranayama), movement of the spine and a few deep long stretches, helpful after sitting for periods of time and hiking up the Glastonbury Tor!
You’re likely to have more energy than you imagine and with the views outside, walking is one of the best ways to get some exercise during this retreat. At 2pm the group meet and either go with one of the team or venture off alone, finding easy circular routes through the surrounding lanes and fields. Glastonbury Tor is within around half an hour and well worth an attempt for long views across the Somerset Levels.
Easy to reach in the centre of the venue are the indoor pool and steam room. The pool is 9m x 5m and heated to around 30°C, set in a pleasant room with natural light. Come out of the pool into the steam room, which holds six comfortably on two wooden benches.
Cottages: There are 10 cottages, each with kitchen and living spaces, and up to three bedrooms in each, some ensuite, some with a shared bathroom. Bedrooms come in different shapes and sizes, but you can expect tasteful, modern country living styling with cream paints, natural fabrics, pretty cushions on the bed, wooden beams, wooden furniture and either floorboards or a neutral coloured carpet. Heating is on a timer in cooler months and keeps you toasty, and there are lamps for softer lighting. Bathrooms vary but many have a bath and power shower. There’s natural hand wash and nightlight candles if you have a bath too.
Other places to stay: There are two E-dens available to book which stand next to the Shepherd Hut (used for treatments) in a grassed area just beyond the Group Room. These are cute half moon shaped wooden cabins with a double bed – from where you can look up to the stars through a large Velux window – and a deck and awning. They are insulated and double glazed, and each has a private bathroom a few steps away.
Other spaces to be: Each cottage is different but they all have a kitchen and living space, with comfy sofas and a dining table. This is a really easy place to be and as you are generally just two or three people sharing the house, you’ll always find some space.
We recommend booking way ahead as these retreats often have a waiting list months ahead of time. There’s a good wi-fi connection throughout the site, but if you’d really like to detox digitally then opt to stay in an E-den as they have neither TV or wi-fi. Some accommodation is suitable for dogs, so do ask if you’d like to take yours along. There’s more than enough books, both fact and fiction, so you really won’t need to bring your own.
Children are sometimes allowed on a case by case basis – the youngest person to attend so far was 12 – they did healthy eating while mum detoxed.
When to Go
The retreat runs monthly except December and August, so you can choose from colder months with brisk walks and books by the fire or the British spring and summer time when you might wander through the orchard or enjoy a hot tub in the sunshine. One of the largest murmurations (birds flying in to roost on mass) in the UK happens in December and January, not far from the retreat.
All nourishment is served in the Group Room, which remains casually set with chairs and beanbags until the penultimate day when fast is broke and tables are set with linen, crocks and cutlery. Juices and soups, served every three hours between 9am and 8pm, are fresh and organic. They vary but follow more or less the same menu each day, and you visit the kitchen and see them being made.
With each you take supplements which aid the cleansing process such as Psyllium, Bentonite Clay and Spirulina and enzymes to ease digestion. Hydrate on filtered, alkalised and ionised water or Glastonbury Spring Water, or warm up on Fiona’s special Detox Tea or one of a large selection of Pukka Teas. You break the fast with a raw food feast of colourful salads and delicious dips, and the final breakfast before you leave introduces you to some tasty dishes you might not have tried before.
All ingredients for juices and raw meals are organic. Middlewick cottages have a Bio Mass Heating system and 120 photovoltaic panels (PV) providing up to 30kw/h of electricity. The venue also has a Kitchen Garden and harvests rainwater and recycle.
Middlewick Holiday Cottages Wick Lane Glastonbury Somerset BA6 8JW
Train Station: Castle Carry
Transfer time: 1 hour