We found Vale de Moses in September 2007, 6 months into a year’s trip round Southern Europe in a motorhome with our 2 young children Joshua and Eloise, aged 9 and 7, and our legend of a golden retriever, Moses. We took a year out from work, from school, to be together as a family, for a glorious adventure, for a very long dog walk and to see, perhaps, if there was a life in Europe a little more sustainable and connected to nature than the furious paced one we were living in south east London.
In September of that year, having travelled (and eaten!) extensively through France, Italy and Spain, we arrived in Portugal and found online an old abandoned farm in the remote forested foothills of the Serra da Estrela mountains, nestled below the picturesque village of Amieira, with the same name as our dog. Moses. In Portuguese it means a place of many millstones, but to us it was a divine coincidence!
The day we arrived in the village, Moses our faithful furry companion, also physically found the farm. There was no one to show us the property and as we couldn’t speak Portuguese to the villagers back then, Vonetta asked Moses to show us the way. He duly sped off down 500m of forest tracks with us on his tail, exactly to the houses we’d seen online! Moses had serendipitously led us to our own promised land. True story.
You can read more about that magical day on our “Poop in Europe Tour” travel blog, named as such because the aim was for Moses to poo in as many countries as we could visit in that year off. Obviously, when we reached Amieira, our search was over.
Our second blog “We Love Moses” chronicled the 5 years of restoration work and landscaping we did as a family, carving out a more self sustainable way of life, until we invited our first yoga retreat guests to our forest home in 2012. Since then we’ve shared our news via our Facebook pages and Insta accounts. Feel free to connect with us before you visit.
@valedemoses @andrewcampbellwinter @vonetta_winter
In 2017, 5 years after opening, and having received hundreds of guests from all over the planet, we were honoured to be featured by National Geographic as one of the top 5 retreats in Europe and listed by The Guardian, The Telegraph, Yoga Journal, OmYoga Magazine and others as one of the best retreats in the world. For us and our fabulous team all the wonderful coverage has been immensely encouraging, and for our local community very special too, as Oleiros is a little off the beaten tourist tracks in Portugal.
Moses, was tragically taken from us in September 2016, accidentally run over by a van delivering bread to our house, and it has taken us quite a while to recover from that immense loss. In January 2018, we welcomed two new golden retriever puppies to our family - Theo and Lucy - who have already brought us so much joy and healing. Together with 2 other beautiful dogs Safira and her daughter Moksha, Amelia (she even has own insta @ameliathepiglet) and her younger boyfriend George our pot bellied pigs, Angel our British blue cat who came with us from London, the forest wildlife of boar, rabbits, otters and birds of prey, plus our multinational team and guests, our yoga retreat is quite a menagerie.
A bucolic dream we hoped might be possible when we set off on our motorhome journey from London. You are very welcome, warmly invited, to come retreat here. And to cherish the time to be in nature. It has so much to teach us.
Thanks for reading our story. :)
The Winter Family
Andrew, Vonetta, Joshua & Eloise
Safira & Moksha, Theo & Lucy, Angel and Amelia