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What did I think of £150 ‘women’s wellness day’ at award-winning Fife retreat?

I spent the day at Lindores which was recently awarded the food prize on BBC series Scotland’s Greatest Escape.

What did journalist Joanna Bremner think of £150 'women's wellness day' at award-winning Fife retreat? Image: Suzanne Black Photography.
What did journalist Joanna Bremner think of £150 'women's wellness day' at award-winning Fife retreat? Image: Suzanne Black Photography.

I left my flat bright and early on Saturday morning wondering just how many “omms” I would need to do during my review at Lindores, Fife.

Meditation is something I have always been somewhat sceptical about.

Therefore, I admittedly had my doubts when I looked through the itinerary for the Women’s Wellness Day I would be attending.

It included coach talks and a mindful guided fireside meditation.

I had visions of us all dressed like hippies in the wilderness and wondered whether I’d need to bring flares or a flower crown.

Only time would tell.

What were the wellness talks like on my Lindores review?

When I arrived though, there were no flower crowns in sight.

Instead, a mix of women of different ages all looking forward to a day which would help us “be inspired, learn and connect in a rural escape”.

The landscape was definitely an escape from the city, a decent drive from the Tay Road Bridge through the heart of Fife.

Alice Thomson, lifestyle medicine practitioner and health coach and founder of Enliven, was there to lead the day.

Alice Thomson stands at the front of the room leading a talk at Lindores Fife.
Alice Thomson leading a workshop on movement. Image: Suzanne Black Photography.

She ran a presentation on how to move more and eat better.

This wasn’t, as I had feared, a presentation intended to sell a product.

Many wellness gurus online seem to have an agenda which is more about making money from various supplements than helping people feel their best.

But the information Alice presented was unbiased and digestible, and there was also a non-judgemental atmosphere for anyone who asked questions.

Alice Thomson stands at the front of the room leading a talk at Lindores Fife.
Alice Thomson, Enliven founder, leads coach talks at Lindores. Image: Suzanne Black Photography.

A message which really sunk in for me was the manageable and uncomplicated goal of eating 30 plants a week.

While this may seem like a lot, this doesn’t just mean veggies. You can count fruit, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices too.

This is all about eating a balanced diet to help out your gut microbiome, or as Alice called them “gut bugs”.

And I can prove how easy this is by telling you that I was already almost a third through this goal on Monday morning.

That’s because a simple bowl of granola, fruit and yoghurt has eight different plants in it.

How was the award-winning food on my Lindores visit?

Lindores recently won the food prize in the BBC show Scotland’s Greatest Escapes, beating off 1,400 other businesses for the title.

The team were still buzzing from their win when I visited.

This meant there were high expectations for our lunch on the Women’s Wellness Day.

We were also treated to a lovely breakfast upon arrival, which included mini pastries like pain au chocolat as well as some berries, yoghurt and granola.

These were really delicious and the variety was great.

A pale blue bowl of cauliflower soup, with a green garnish, and a silver spoon on the side, part of the lunch on the Lindores review.
Homemade cauliflower soup. Image: Suzanne Black Photography.

The lunch itself probably hit that 30 plant mark in one meal! It was packed full of nutritious and satisfying local food.

During the BBC Scotland’s Great Escapes programme, there was a line mentioned by the team at Lindores which seemed to represent their whole ethos.

They said it wasn’t about food miles, as so much “food yards”.

This resonated with many attendees on the day and myself. And they clearly sought to live up to that claim as much as possible.

The feast supplied for us included a lovely homemade cauliflower soup which had a satisfyingly smooth texture. It paired well with the fresh, fluffy and flavourful sourdough from Wild Hearth Bakery.

The salty hit of the Edinburgh Butter Co on the bread balanced out the flavours well.

There was a Caprese salad, crudités with homemade (and to die for) creamy hummus with pitta.

One of the more filling items was the blue cheese and broccoli quiche, which was so creamy and moreish. It had the tasty accompaniment of some rocket with a sweet vinaigrette and a parmesan topping.

My favourite item though was the chefs slaw.

A white bowl filled with colourful coleslaw without cream.
The chef’s slaw. Image: Suzanne Black Photography.

This, for me, was far more delicious than regular coleslaw. I usually find that sickly and overly creamy. You miss out on the flavour of the veg itself.

But this slaw was an excellent – slightly boozy – showcase of the crunchy fresh veg.

This consisted of very fine strands of chopped onion, radish and carrot, paired with Lindores Abbey Distillery Aqua Vitae dressing.

I would eat that every day if I could!

Sauna and cold plunge with a view Lindores Fife

A 3km hike brought us to the next step of our wellness day.

Highland cows stand in a field at Lindores, Fife.
We had some adorable company on our walk. Image: Suzanne Black Photography.

The walk was pretty steep at times, but the feeling of satisfaction when we reached our destination – and saw glamourous cabin The Hide waiting for us – made it worth the effort.

A group of women walk down a grassy slope, on Joanna's review of Lindores Fife.
It was warm and dry for our walk at Lindores. Image: Suzanne Black Photography. Date; 20/04/2024

This beautiful rustic getaway was a glorious sight on top of a brae, with spectacular views.

We could even see snow-capped Schiehallion in the distance.

Though it wasn’t a very sunny day, it was clear, bright and warm.

Still though, the thought of the cold plunge looming on our itinerary wasn’t very enticing.

Before that, we had some time to catch our breath and take in our surroundings: both the beautiful view and The Hide.

This is a gorgeous cabin, complete with an indoor fire, seating, kitchen, changing area and a compost loo.

The view from The Hide, as seen through the doorway. The wooden doorframe is visible on the left, and the door on the right hand side with a window in the centre. The view is of rolling hills, houses beyond, and hills beyond that.
The view from The Hide. Image: Suzanne Black Photography.

The Hide is where Fiona Campbell and Masood Khodadadi – two of the judges from Scotland’s Greatest Escape – had their lunch on their visit.

Soon, we took our seats around the fire to begin our meditation inside.

I was thinking back to those ‘omms’, wondering just how ridiculous I would feel. But they never came.

Instead, we were told we could close our eyes once we felt comfortable, as Alice led us through a calming meditation.

This wasn’t full of ‘omms’, but rather intermittent deep breaths as we listened to her calm voice.

The accompanying sound of the crackling fire made the experience an utterly peaceful one.

By the time we opened our eyes, I really did feel calmer. And I think I might give meditation a try again.

Next, conversation turned to the sauna. This was provided by Willowgate Activity Centre.

The sauna and cold plunge tub at Lindores, Fife. Image: Suzanne Black Photography.

While it wasn’t big enough for all 10 of us to fit in at the same time, we simply took it in turns.

I was surprised by just how hot it was.

It seemed surreal that someone could have created a sauna which mimicked a poolside one, but portable and currently positioned on the top of a Fife hill.

After a brief stint, I had mustered up the courage for my cold plunge.

This wasn’t the most glamorous feature of the day, a simple tub of cold water, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable.

Despite my preconceptions, immersing myself in the icy water was, dare I say it, pleasant.

Once I got my breathing slowed – thanks to the guidance of Suzanne Black, photographer and part of the family business at Lindores – I actually really enjoyed it.

Food and drink writer Joanna Bremner smiles at the camera on her review of a women's wellness day at Lindores, Fife.
I was still smiling after my dip in the cold plunge tub.

But I can’t lie and tell you it was more pleasant than the sauna, which I hurriedly returned to.

It was a surreal experience to have those stunning views to look out at from the bench in the sauna.

Usually, you’re just looking at the wooden walls around you. It was without a doubt my favourite experience in a sauna.

The view from the sauna at Lindores, Fife. Image: Suzanne Black Photography.

Once we were all dried and changed out of our swimsuits, we sat at the tables enjoying the view some more, and munching on the homemade macarons that Anna Black – Lindores owner – cheerfully passed around.

The conversation was lovely. It was really wholesome to be surrounded by other women, in an encouraging space without judgement or jealousy.

Finally, we made our way back down the hill.

Before we left, we were handed lovely goodie bags, filled with locally made treats and deals.

Lindores review verdict

My day at Lindores was superb.

The day was catered around all of the women there to make sure we were all comfortable, entertained and satisfied throughout.

The venue itself was gorgeous, a real gem in Fife. Those views were absolutely stunning.

The food was great as well, really filling and nourishing.

Alice, too, wowed me with her breadth of knowledge and considerate and engaging teaching style.

I would absolutely attend another event like this again and would recommend it to anyone looking to get a break from their busy work life.


  • Surroundings: 5/5
  • Atmosphere: 5/5
  • Food: 4.5/5

Lindores Fife information:

Price: Women’s Wellness Day: £150

Address: Lindores Stay, Braeside of Lindores, Newburgh, Fife, KY14 6HU


Tel: 01337 840351