The Secret Sauna. Now being an avid sauna user when a post popped up on facebook, showing a photo of this little sauna nestled amongst the willows next to the river It immediately grabbed my attention.
The post was on the Facebook group East of England Paddlesports so I knew it had to be fairly local to me.
After further hunting, I found the facebook page for the sauna itself.
The sauna is called the Secret Sauna. Once you visit you will understand why.
The secret sauna is a wood-fired sauna cabin perched on the banks of the River Waveney, in Wainford which is close to Bungay, Suffolk on the Suffolk and Norfolk border.
It is Off-grid and hidden and an absolutely amazing place to come and unwind, relax, expel those toxins in the sauna and take a fresh or really refreshing dip (depending on time of year) in the river.
Personally I am a big sauna user, I have a wood fired barrel sauna in the garden that gets used nearly every other day.
I honestly believe this regular sauna use has kept sickness at bay for the last 7 years.
Sauna use has many health benefits for both physical and mental health (SEE BELOW)
Best time to visit? Anytime of the year. Personally I love a winter sauna.
Our visit to the Secret Sauna.
We decided to turn our sauna visit into a half a day micro adventure and reach the sauna by the river using paddle boards and packrafts!
Paddling to the Secret Sauna.
Launching at Bungay Staithe (postcode for satnav NR35 1BF) where there is parking (but you need to get there early during the summer) and a very easy area to launch from (launch below the weir).
Paddling from Bungay will take around 20 minutes until you get to the portage point at the Weir in Wainford. Portage your boats across the road and continue paddling along the river. Hidden amongst the over hanging willows is the secret sauna.
Getting out of your boats / paddle boards using the rope ladder isn’t that easy. Once you get out and up to the sauna your relaxing time can start.
When you arrive the sauna will be lit and ready.
It is rustic so you will find a cold water shower, compostable toilet and extra logs if you wish to put on the in the wood burner.
The view is amazing and what’s even better is a jump in the river. Depending on what time of the year you visit depends on how character building the feeling is. Personally I love it, nothing like jumping in freezing cold water straight out of the sauna. To me this is the most alive feeling ever!
What do I need to bring to the Secret Sauna?
Yourself, a towel to sit on and a towel to dry with, a change of clothes and water to drink.
What should I wear in the Secret Sauna?
Ask any Finn or Swede this question they would laugh at you!
Your birthday suit is the only traditional thing worn in a sauna.
We are a little more PC here in the UK and don’t like to show ourselves as we get embarrassed. Personally, im not!
I am what I am we all have twists, things, folds and are all different shapes.
If we all where a little more tolerable about this taboo subject it would reduce a lot of barriers.
Last year when visiting northern Sweden I was sharing a sauna with a male and female friend. It took the female to sessions before she was comfortable to sit there in her birthday suit.
It is completely normal in Scandinavia for work colleagues to sauna all together after work.
How do I book at the Secret Sauna.
Appointment is by booking only for a maximum of 4 people.
Benefits of regular use of a sauna.
Saunas improve overall health, wellness and performance.
Not surprisingly, most people who use a sauna regularly state the reduction of stress as the number one benefit of sauna use.
Medical studies often determine that stress in our daily lives can negatively affect our health. In fact, the vast majority of disease (e.g. heart disease) is at least partially stress-related. Heat bathing in a sauna provides stress relief in a number of ways. It’s a warm, quiet space without any distractions coming from the outside.
The heat from the sauna relaxes the body’s muscles, improves circulation and stimulates the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s all-natural “feel good” chemical, and their release provides a truly wonderful “after sauna glow.”
Saunas aid in recovery after intense physical activity.
Endorphins can have a mild, enjoyable “tranquilizing effect” and the ability to minimize the pain of joint and muscle soreness other from, say, an intense physical workout.
Body temperature also rises from the heat of the sauna.
This causes blood vessels to dilate, therefore increasing blood circulation.
This increased blood flow in turn speeds up the body’s natural healing process via soothing aches and pains and/or speeding up of the healing of minor bruises or cuts.
After participating in physical sports, use the heat and/or steam of a sauna to promote muscle relaxation by helping to reduce muscle tension and eliminate lactic acid and/or other toxins that may be present.
Saunas flush toxins via sweating process.
Most of us do not actively sweat on a daily basis. Due to the heat of a sauna, the core body temperature begins to rise. The blood vessels then dilate, causing increased blood flow.
As heat from the blood begins to move toward the skin’s surface, the body’s nervous system then sends signals to the millions of sweat glands that cover the human body. As the sweat glands become stimulated, they produce sweat.
Sweat production is primarily designed to cool the body, and is composed of 99% water. However, deep sweating in a sauna can help reduce levels of lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury and chemical – which are all toxins commonly absorbed just from interacting with our daily environments.
Saunas improve brain health.
A 20-year study conducted with more than 2,300 participants at the University of Eastern Finland by Dr. Jari Laukkanen and his colleagues revealed regular sauna use (4-7 times per week) at 176 degrees F for 19 minutes lowered the risk for both Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Association includes sweating as an important way to improve brain health: https://www.alz.org/help-support/brain_health/10_ways_to_love_your_brain
Saunas relieve stress.
The heat in the sauna helps us to relax and regulates the level of cortisol in our blood.
Cortisol is the hormone that is released when we’re stressed, and too high levels of cortisol can lead to a number of health issues such as problems with the immune system and with sleeping.
Sauna bathing reduces the levels of cortisol in our blood, and instead it stimulates the production of serotonin. Serotonin is our “happy hormone” that makes us feel good.
Saunas can help fight illness.
German sauna medical research shows that saunas were able to significantly reduce the incidences of colds and influenza amongst participants.
As the body is exposed to the heat of a sauna it produces white blood cells more rapidly, which in turn helps to fight illnesses and helps to kill viruses.
In addition, saunas can relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of sinus congestion from colds or allergies – especially when used with steam (tip: add eucalyptus / pine tar essence to the water for added benefit and overall enjoyment).
The steam vapor action helps to clear up unwanted congestion and is a wonderful aspect of the Finnish sauna experience.
8. Sauna cleanses the skin.
Heat bathing is one of the oldest beauty and/or health strategies in terms of cleansing one’s skin.
When the body begins to produce sweat via deep sweating, the skin is then cleansed and dead skin cells are replaced – keeping your skin in good working condition. Sweating rinses bacteria out of the epidermal layer and sweat ducts.
Cleansing of the pores has been shown to improve the capillary circulation, while giving the skin a softer-looking quality.
Saunas bring out recreational and social benefits.
While the social benefit is rarely talked about, it’s actually quite important. The sauna can be a private, personal area of relaxation and solitude. However, it can just as easily be a relaxing environment for socializing with family, friends and soon-to-be friends. The sauna room environment is conducive to open, intimate and quiet conversation.
Saunas just feel good.
A sauna not only feels good, it’s good for your body. Whether it’s the physiological changes that occur during the warmth of a sauna, or if it’s simply the time spent in the calming and still retreat of the sauna, every seasoned sauna bather agrees – it feels wonderful! As we progress through our stressful everyday lives, the sauna provides a pampering retreat – where we can relax and restore body and soul. Sauna bathing truly makes you “Feel Better”, “Look Better” and “Sleep Better”!
Personally regular use of a sauna is very important to me and most of Scandinavia / Russia. It has many benefits and because it is not very popular here in the UK many people are negative towards it.
Join in! take a sauna regularly and see the benefits it has to mind and body.