As the chilliness of winter takes hold, Sam Wonfor ventures out to Walwick Hall Hotel and Spa for a massage treatment to warm the cockles.

Safe to say, if I wasn’t in need of some heat-infused relaxation before setting off for a morning of five-star luxury at Walwick Hall Spa, I was certainly desperate for it by the time I arrived.

The source of my frustration was the worst possible kind – the kind for which you can blame no-one but yourself. Don’t you just hate it when you can’t at least attribute a sliver of liability to someone or something else?

My plans to arrive nicely early for an hour-long and very lovely sounding Lava Shell treatment had been thwarted by a complete failure to read my emails properly.

A 10-15 minute diversion to mitigate the temporary road closure on the bridge at Chollerford, turned into a full 55-minutes of twisty roads, blind summits and a very sweary in-car monologue.

I can only apologise to any animals who were offended.

So, there was to be no time to try out the steam room, hot tub or pavilion pool, which boasts views over the Tyne Valley. I mean, just how hard is it to read an email properly…?

Thankfully on arrival at the hotel, which is nestled among 100 acres of classic Northumberland countryside just six miles north of Hexham, a swift check-in and quick transfer to the double-bedded treatment room ensured it wasn’t long before my blood pressure returned to manageable levels.

LAVA SHELLMy therapist was Mel, who was more than happy to talk a Lava Shell newbie – namely me – through the full body treatment, which uses self-heating and 100% recycled Tiger Clam shells from the Philippines to offer what sounded like a pretty special 60 minutes.

We agreed that the relaxation oil – Kokolokahi Serenity to give it its Sunday name – would be the one for me. And with that, I was left to get down to my pants, climb into one of the heated and very sumptuous beds and feel snuggly smug while listening to the beating rain outside.

In a nutshell – or one of the Tiger Clam variety if you prefer – the treatment offers a similar sensation to its ever-popular hot stones cousin.

Using the shells as the chief massage tool, the heat, which increases in intensity as the treatment goes on, serves to deepen the relaxation benefits and eases any muscle and joint pain into the bargain.

It’s a truly gorgeous sensation – particularly on the soles of the feet on this occasion – as the almost-too-hot and shiny smooth shells are used to impart relaxation in effective fashion.

Truth be told, there are large chunks of the massage which I struggle to remember clearly, which perfectly demonstrates the neck-to-toe chill-out power of this treatment.

And, once I’d woken up sufficiently enough to drive, I even managed to get all the way home without cursing myself once.

The Lava Shell Full Body Massage at Walwick Hall Spa, costs £65 for 60 minutes. There is also a 30-minute back massage option, which costs £40.

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