Wilderness Retreat

Zen Practice Events

About the Event

Wilderness Retreat

Join us for this unique silent backpacking and wild camping mountain journey. Three days walking and two nights self-sufficient camping in wild and remote mountain areas in the Scottish Highlands. Led by Daizan and guided by Mountain Leader and Junior Zen Teacher Penny Clay. There’s a long tradition in Zen of spiritual practice in the mountains; Boddhidharma, the legendary founder of Zen spent nine years living in solitude in a remote mountain cave. This unique retreat gives us the opportunity to share in the experiences of these mountain ancestors, following their footsteps in some of the remotest areas of the UK. It’s not an easy path of practice, it’s both physically and mentally demanding. A stripped back existence that is both challenging and rewarding. The physical progress of walking is mirrored by the spiritual process within, the mountains provide the space for our practice, big enough to hold anything we might bring with us. Here’s what some of last years participants said:

“What an adventure. And what a journey ❤️. I will remember it forever.”

“The walking green mountains are still with me. That seed has been sown and continues to grow!”

“Thank you, Penny, for taking us on this inspiring adventure in the wilderness… I’m already missing crossing roaring rivers and waterfalls, eating at candle light in the bothy, the sound of all our walking poles on the stones, the ever changing clouds, the vastness of the landscape, us walking all together in synchrony with you safely guiding us through and the delicious food we had on our way.”

“It was a wonderful experience at so many levels. My feet are sore but my heart is glad ❤️”

Retreat Details

The retreat begins and ends in Kinlochleven near Glencoe, and is open to anyone who has either completed a BZR (or similar) or a Mountain Retreat with us. You’ll need to be able to walk 10-15 miles per day carrying a rucksack which will weigh around 10-12kg. A full kit list is available. All food is provided and camping kit is available to hire. It is totally self-supported, carrying all your own equipment for the whole journey. Distance: 15 – 25 km per day Ascent: around 800m per day Walking Time: up to 8 hours per day Terrain: Rough trails and uneven ground. Some steep ascents and descents with rocky sections , there maybe some walking on boggy or pathless ground.

Physical Requirements

A good level of fitness is required. You should be comfortable walking on rough, rocky ground. You should be able to walk uphill at a steady pace. You should be able to carry a rucksack weighing approximately 10 – 12kg. If you are at all unsure about your fitness levels please contact Penny to have a chat.

Kit List

A detailed kit list is available and there will be a Zoom meeting around 4 weeks before the retreat to discuss preparation and packing. Camping equipment is available to hire. Sleeping bag, sleeping mat and tent cost £30.


All food is provided as part of the cost of the retreat. All food is vegetarian, DF and GF dietary requirements can be catered for on request. Most of our meals are provided for us by a lovely local business ‘Stronaba Produce’ and includes homemade granola for breakfast, wraps and rolls for lunch and sweet treats for snacks. Evening meals will be dehydrated chillies and pasta.

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a whileJohn Muir

On last year’s retreat we were pinned down by bad weather, our way barred by rivers in spate. We took refuge in a bothy, pitching our tents outside and sheltering in the basic hut for the worst of the weather before we could walk once again.

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