Embers glow orange as the weak winter sun sinks behind the fells. Around the fire, barefoot people are shivering nervously as they prepare to step out onto the hot coals, a scene that is as old as history in many parts of the world.

The first evidence of fire walks is from the Iron Age by Brahmin priests. Centuries later, Jen Grange is leading a group of 21st century fire walkers who have spent the day on an empowerment workshop in preparation for this moment.

“My first fire walk was the most transformational thing I’ve ever done,” explains Jen. “It was just amazing, and it made such a difference in my life. I fire walked another three or four times and again just had these amazing shifts – almost sort of deaths and rebirths of what was going on in my life.”

Great British Life: Jen Grange, of Lakeland Wellbeing, explains the procedureJen Grange, of Lakeland Wellbeing, explains the procedure (Image: Faye McRae)

Jen, who runs Lakeland Wellbeing, decided to bring this experience to others and undertook a week-long training course with world-renowned fire walk teacher Peggy Dylan.

Part of the course looks at practical elements such as setting up the fire, how it will burn and all the important safety implications.

“But one of the main things it covers is how you can prepare people to walk the fire, because you need to make sure that their energy is high and vibrant, and that their energy matches the energy of the fire. It’s a practical course, but it’s also a very spiritual course,” says Jen.

Great British Life: Fire walking begins with building the fireFire walking begins with building the fire (Image: Faye McRae)

She is quick to dispel the idea that firewalking is about rushing over the burning pit, or in any way ‘macho’. In fact, fire walkers can start as early as seven, and both of Jen’s own children did their first fire walk recently. Anyone who is able to walk can take part.

Jen says: “Participants can expect an incredible journey. It’s quite deeply spiritual and you have to really feel into yourself and feel into what you want, and know your own inner courage, to be able to walk the fire.

“I would say to someone thinking about it, be open minded to what you might discover about yourself and to how the fire might change your life, might shift things for you.”

The faces of the firewalkers gathered at the Newlands Adventure Centre near Keswick on a chill January evening certainly glow with the possibility of change and a bright new year.

Acquiring the knowledge and skills to lead fire walks was a logical addition to Jen’s offering through Lakeland Wellbeing which includes moon bathing and wild women retreats.

Great British Life: Fire walk with Lakeland WellbeingFire walk with Lakeland Wellbeing (Image: Faye McRae)

However, the route to finding her purpose in her own wellbeing business, which she calls “long and convoluted”, was perhaps not so logical, although, in hindsight, the clues were all there.

Following a love of the outdoors fostered in her Kent childhood, Jen began her career with a degree in outdoor studies in Ambleside, an experience that also planted the seeds of her love of the Lake District where she now feels rooted.

She says: “I love the mountains. Whenever I leave, I’m like ‘oh, get me back to the mountains’. I need some uplands.”

Her degree led to work as an outdoor instructor before she moved into the environmental and leadership world with roles in Defra and Natural England. While studying for a masters degree in environmental science at Newcastle she joined the intelligence corps as a reservist.

In parallel to earning leadership roles in the military and the public sector, she was increasingly drawn to holistic energy work. Since her 20s, she had explored practices such as reiki.

Great British Life: Fire walk with Lakeland WellbeingFire walk with Lakeland Wellbeing (Image: Faye McRae)

“Then I realised that my own personal spiritual practice of being in nature, feeling really mindful and grounded outdoors was really this thing called forest bathing. I heard about it and was like ‘oh, I already do that’,” she says.

“So I went and got a qualification so I could take other people forest bathing. That’s what really started Lakeland Wellbeing.”

Forest bathing was followed by training with the Mindfulness Association and her reiki master teacher training qualification.

Lakeland Wellbeing allows Jen to “connect people with nature and to spread love and kindness around the world”.

The business, based in Keswick, offers a range of therapies including reiki, shamanic healing and reflexology. Mindfulness training is also on offer as well as Wild Wellbeing experiences including forest bathing and fire walks.


Great British Life: Fire walk with Lakeland WellbeingFire walk with Lakeland Wellbeing (Image: Faye McRae)


John, 14, says: “I was pretty sceptical at first. I didn’t really know what to expect and I was nervous about walking on fire. I thought it would hurt.

“I was surprised that I enjoyed the workshops. The meditation with drumming was amazing. I really liked how it made me feel.

“When we went out to the fire I was quite scared about what it would be like. The first time I walked on the coals was brilliant. It didn’t hurt and I immediately wanted to do it again. I went across the fire four times. I felt that if I can do this, I can do anything.”

Ellen says: “Arriving at Newlands and seeing the pile of wood beside the firepit raised my anxiety about what was ahead. However, as the day unfolded and Jen took us through a series of activities to focus on what to leave behind in the ashes (imposter syndrome for me) and what to bring into our lives I felt better.

“The group was warm and welcoming and went, very quickly, from a group of nervous strangers to a closely connected team. By the end we were hugging and cheering each other over the coals.

“As the bonfire turned into embers and the time drew near, I found myself wondering if I could actually step into the fire. However, with my newly identified purpose and the encouragement of Jen and the others I found myself striding out and, a couple of seconds later, on the other side of the hot coals, feeling triumphant.

“Days later, the sense of confidence and possibility is still with me. I’ll certainly be back for another fire walk.”