A hidden gem in the Test Valley for wild swimming and even a Sauna…We love a wild swim, it’s a great way to connect with nature, has some great health benefits and we don’t let the cold here in the UK bother us, it’s brilliant any time of year.

We had recently been recommended a sauna and swim spot nestled deep in the test valley of Hampshire so we just couldn’t resist heading down on a beautiful spring day. With the weather on our side we took a fun road trip along the test valley roads, which is one of our favourite areas of the county with it’s farmland and fields of flowers, winding country roads and villages and towns with thatched cottages. Not forgetting the river test which chalk stream  and runs from Ashe near Basingstoke down to Southampton water. Recommend the test way walk if you haven’t done it before..

Arriving after our scenic drive, we pulled up to gravel pathway and made our way down a narrow winding pathway which then revealed a clearing by ‘mistletoe lake’. The area features a changing room cabin, plenty of outdoor seating, the sauna cabin and steps to ease you into the waters.

It is privately owned, so once you book in for your session they give you specific instructions on how to get to this secluded spot. They offer a range of experiences all bookable through their website, from a sauna and swim to swimming training and yoga sessions. You can either book a spot individually to share the sauna and experience with other member of the public or you can book the whole place with a group of your family or friends for an extra special experience. All prices and details on their website.

One of the first things that caught our eye was the clarity of the water, even after the heavy rainfall of late, very clear and apparently even better in the summer sunshine, crystal clear waters lit up by the sun rays. Their water is spring fed and filtered through the chalk, pollution free. This time of year in spring, the land owner puts in a weed suppressant so they don’t have to cut it every couple of weeks over the warmer seasons to keep it clear for swimmers. It has a blueish tinge which adds to the natural colour.

The traditional method of using a Sauna is using the sauna for 10 minutes or so thgen having a cold water dip, and then alternating between. On entering the sauna, it was pretty hard to step back out once you relaxed into it, as you directly face the lake and surrounding woodland with a panoramic view. But sticking to the rythem, we popped back out and then got ready for the cold plunge, yep it was still pretty chilly in spring but definitely the case of once you are in, you got used to it, and always a great feeling of accomplishment and refresh once out and back in the sauna.

In Hampshire we have a wonderful coastline for wild swimming in certain spots, but it is rare to find an inland spot, privately owned to be able to enjoy the waters so we were very happy to have found Fallen Willow Sauna.

More info on their website here – https://www.fallenwillowsauna.co.uk

Here are a couple of accommodation options, if you’re staying the in the area:

The Fisherman’s Lodge

South Park Farm Barn

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