From a sauna to an ice bath in Scotland: my full immersion in hot and cold therapy

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A peaceful woodland estate in Aberdeenshire now offers wellbeing breaks with adrenaline-boosting Nordic-style treatments

I’m sitting in a bright orange tin bath deep in the woods in rural Aberdeenshire. The water is a chilly 8C and I’m being guided through breathing exercises by the UK’s first female commando. This is not a military drill or some kind of cult initiation, but an activity offered at the new Discovery and Adventure Centre at Glen Dye estate, to which I’ve willingly signed up.

“Tell yourself it’s cold, but you can do this,” says Pip Delamere-Wright, “Remember top-down thinking, you’re in control. Just keep breathing.” At first the cold water feels like needles against my skin and deep breathing is required to stay in the water, but I do eventually manage to calm my mind. After the required two minutes I sprint across the forest floor back into the sauna, pine needles sticking to the soles of my feet, awaiting my next summons to the baths.

Contrast bathing, or the Nordic cycle, involves moving between a sauna and icy cold water and it’s surprisingly good for you. The peaceful 6,000-hectare (15,000-acre) Glen Dye estate, with its beautiful woodland and meandering river, is the perfect place to try it, and Pip is a patient and gently encouraging coach. As sauna culture spreads across the UK, Glen Dye may just be ahead of the curve in offering experiences like this.

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