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Wanderen in the Dark

Or how to bloom in Bavaria

· Spa Travel Mayr

Who in their right mind would get up in the dark to go wandering in the woods in late October? That would be me. At least while I'm staying at the glorious Lanserhof Clinic in Bavaria, haunt of super-models and those in search of the Cure. And wanderen is not only a very German thing to do, being in nature is all part of said Cure. So I'm up before 6 and striding out briskly in what seems like the middle of the night. It's certainly dark but after about 20 minutes stumbling around, we reach a point where not only is there a faint sign of light in the sky but a suitably grassy knoll on which to do our exercises. As the light comes up behind the mountain, I see the Tegernsee Lake in the valley below and the lights of the village on its bank twinkling. A spot of snow and it'll look like Christmas.

But, yes, the Cure. It's the brainchild of F X Mayr, an Austrian doctor (b 1875) who had the original idea that health was all down to the state of your gut. If your gut is healthy, basically so are you. But to achieve this, you need to detox your system and learn how to chew. You may have thought you knew how to do this but you're probably wrong. You need to chew each mouthful of food 30-50 times and so you need a chew trainer. This isn't (as I first thought) a person but buckwheat toast, served every morning for breakfast with a bowl of yoghurt. And the same again for lunch - monotony is a good thing here. In the evening, there is a small bowl of pureed vegetable soup. Oddly enough, I rather enjoy a bit of asceticism so this suits me just fine.

Doctor Darius (above) - and you understand this place is run by doctors, not a bunch of weirdoes - believes that this positive attitude means I will get on better with the Cure and have less side-effects and hunger. I barely have a single one and bounce around with increased energy from wanderen to yoga and Pilates to jazz dance (we learn a routine from Dirty Dancing. Not the lift.) The doc and I meet up every second day when he massages my stomach and reports on the state of my intestines (coming along nicely).

It's all rather calm and relaxing and there is a monastic tranquility about the place, built four-square around an inner garden with glass walls everywhere looking out onto mountains and forest. My room is both minimalist and palatial - suitable for the likes of Cara Delevingne who is a fan - and has a vast bathroom where I spend a lot of time as does everyone taking the Cure. Did I mention the Epsom Salts? Best not.

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