Deep in the woods of the Wye valley, a sensory adventure based on an ancient Japanese therapy provides balm for troubled times
Tom Court invites me to bend down and crawl through a holly bush. As the waxy leaves scratch at my arms, I feel this is a slightly prickly introduction to the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. Tom is from Hill Farm, a yoga and wellbeing retreat centre in Tintern, on the Welsh side of the Wye valley, and he explains to our small group that the holly tree acts as a gateway to the woods and is all part of experiencing the forest on a new level.
The woods in question are glorious: tumbling in layers across the steep hills above Tintern Abbey. The roots of beech trees clamber over moss-covered dry stone walls and ferns line rain-washed gullies.