Scotland 2021

September 12-23, 2021

A NOTE FROM GERARD AND JANIE DURING THE WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC

Many of us dream of that amazing trip to Scotland – the freedom to wander through castle halls, along ancient paths and down cobblestone streets, to ride the coach together and spend long, warm evenings at the local pub with a group of friends, cruise across the ocean to a wee village or stand on the deck as we sail Loch Lomond. That’s how Scotland should be – that, and so much more.

But a strange thing happened on the way to the castle. 2020 has brought a global pandemic, changing the way we see everything, including travel. Some day, when all this is over and the world reawakens and becomes welcoming again, the ability to travel to a far-off land – say, farther than your living room – is going to be a divine experience. Right now, though, we have to have patient.

Before the global lockdown began, without much advertising beyond our alumni Facebook Go and Write! group, we already had eight travellers signed up, with several others very serious about doing so. There was no question of what we had do do: we offered everyone a full refund of their deposit. But not a single person took the offer. Each declared they would rather try for next year.

So we contacted our amazing providers, and they all agreed to let us shift the dates to 2021! We’re choosing to see this retreat as a reclamation and an honouring of the world we live in, a way to soothe our weary souls. They can never take our freedom, right? For now, we do the right thing by staying home – but in fall 2021, we’re doing a far better thing by returning to Lunga House for six nights for a writing retreat followed by five amazing nights in the heart of Edinburgh, all in the company of other writers and adventurers.

We have just a few spaces left, and we hope you’ll come along with us! When all this is over, you can still write anywhere – but you can also write with us in Scotland, the best “when all this is over” gift to yourself imaginable.


GO AND WRITE!  SCOTLAND 2021

In September 2021, join us on a unique writing retreat to Scotland. We’ll spend six nights at the gorgeous Lunga House castle in Lochgilphead and five nights at the Apex Grassmarket Hotel in the heart of Edinburgh, the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature.

LUNGA HOUSE AND SURROUNDING AREA

Our previous Go and Write! retreat to Scotland was so popular and got such rave reviews, we’ve decided to do it again. Those who went in 2019 unanimously said, “I’d go back to Lunga in a heartbeat.” So, we’re returning to Lunga House, where they truly are the “small castle with a big heart.” They’ll take good care of us – a fire in the hearth, a piano in the ballroom, a healthy variety of fresh-made suppers and dinners with a hearty breakfast each morning, and plenty of places to stretch out and do some writing, reading, chatting, or daydreaming in silence on a fine fall day. 

Scotland 2019

During our six-night stay at Lunga House, you’ll have two creative writing workshops, a one-on-one session with Gerard to talk about your writing, and time to devote yourself to the craft. As well, you’ll find yourself in the company of like-minded souls, some of whom have written only a little and others who have already published. Go and Write! travellers, including non-writing folk, usually have a tough time choosing their favourite part of our retreats, but the lasting friendships and memorable moments that could only happen when a bunch of writers go traveling together top nearly every list

Writers in the Lunga House morning room

​​Lunga House is nestled in a secluded spot on the bay, with grounds for wandering, a horseback riding facility  on the estate grounds, and it’s a fifteen-minute or so walk to the Lord of the Isles pub in nearby Craobh Haven, a popular spot among our travellers.

Meanwhile, how does a day trip to the fabled Isle of Mull  sound to you? Mull is just a short drive and ferry ride from Lunga House, and it’s one of the most beautiful places in Scotland, quiet and picturesque. We’ll sail over to the island and spend some time in the fishing port of Tobermory (Tobar Mhoire – Well of Mary), where you can wander around the town, visit the museum, a distillery, an arts centre, and there are plenty of places to shop and cafés for writing. Then we’ll do some hiking and touring around the island before returning to Lunga for the night. 

OTHER THINGS TO DO AROUND LUNGA

We’ve only planned one official day trip (the Isle of Mull) for the six days we’re at Lunga House, and that’s by design. The balance for this entire retreat is a combination of individual and group time so you have the best of all worlds. Not excessive touring, but just enough so that you get a heartwarming, eye-opening sense of what Scotland is all about.​ The idea is to give you more time to do whatever you please and write as much as you want, on the castle grounds or in the nearby area.

For those who are interested in exploring the area beyond Lunga and Craobh Haven on their own, just half an hour north is the gorgeous town of Oban, where you could spend the day in the village – perhaps with a tour of the world-famous whisky distillery– and end your day with a Scottish Ceilidh Night.

If you’re interested in the archaeology of the region, Kilmartin Glen  is one of Scotland’s richest prehistoric landscapes. Just 20 minutes south of Lunga House lies Kilmartin Village, with more than 800 prehistoric and historic monuments within six miles of the village. This extraordinary concentration and diversity of monuments distinguishes the Kilmartin Glen as an area of outstanding archaeological importance. For anyone who wishes to see ancient cairns, standing stone circles, and 5,000 year old rock carvings, you’ll want to take time to visit Kilmartin Village.

LOCH LOMOND AND THE TROSSACHS NATIONAL PARK

On our seventh day in Scotland, we’ll say goodbye to Lunga House and board our coach to travel in comfort toward Edinburgh. Along the way, we’ll visit the bonny banks of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, which have not only inspired Scotland’s most famous song, but also affected the likes of  Sir Walter Scott, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and his sister Dorothy – here, in many ways, is the cradle of the Romantic era of English poetry which began with the publication of Scott’s novel Ivanhoe. In this beautiful part of Scotland, you’ll see for yourself how the grandeur and history of the country could inspire such a literary movement among poetic minds. 

When we arrive at Balloch on the banks of Loch Lomond, we’ll board a boat for a cruise, taking in the views of the magnificent Ben Lomond and a number of Loch Lomond’s stately homes and castles along the shoreline.  We’ll venture out towards Inchmurrin Island, the largest of Loch Lomond’s 33 islands and home to the ancient remains of Lennox Castle, which, in the 14th century, sheltered a fugitive Robert the Bruce before he was to become King of Scotland. 

Once we finish our boat cruise, we’ll drive up the banks of Loch Lomond to the village of Balmaha where we’ll stop for a bite to eat at the Oak Tree Inn bar and restaurant. We’ll have a chance to stretch our legs before we get back on our coach and make our way to Edinburgh.

EDINBURGH

Edinburgh is a traveler’s dream, especially if you’re a writer. We’ve chosen a lovely place for our extended stay: The Apex Grassmarket Hotel, which has a swimming pool and gym – and where we’ve booked rooms with a castle view. Just outside our hotel, you’ll find yourself immersed in the Grassmarket area, formed around the 1300s, and we’re moments away from the famous Royal Mile. You’ll find pubs like The White Hart Inn –​ Edinburgh’s oldest pub, established in 1516 – a two-minute walk from your hotel room.

 

Each day in Edinburgh, you’ll be free to explore, write, and do whatever you want. You’ll be surrounded by pubs, restaurants and cafés, as well as bookstores,  shops  both wee and huge, The Writers’ MuseumThe National Edinburgh museum,  St. Giles Cathedral, and the Festival Theatre and Scottish Storytelling Centre. There are also green spaces like The Meadows  and Princes Street Gardens as well, and coffee-houses like Summerhall Café and the famous Elephant House, where a young J.K. Rowling is reputed to have written some of the Harry Potter series of books. 

Edinburgh is a great home base for touring. Once we’re settled in, we can help arrange small, pay-as-you-go group tours of places like St. Giles, Edinburgh Castle, or Holyrood House, the queen’s home in Scotland and the place Mary, Queen of Scots and Bonny Prince Charlie once called home. We can also help you find day excursions that take you a bit farther afield, such as Rosslyn ChapelHadrian’s Wall, and The Kelpies.

Honestly, there’s so much to see and do, five nights will seem like a dream. The thing is to do what you want to do – and the emphasis, always, will be on finding inspiration for your writing. Coffee-houses, pubs, green spaces, restaurants, and so much more are wonderful places to curl up for a couple of hours and write, and you’ll have time – and encouragement – to do so.

Gerard’s new novel, The Hush Sisters, released this October, and like most 2020 events, we’ll shift to celebrate this with you in 2021. We’ll have complimentary copies for you when we land in Scotland, and you’ll get the inside scoop on the road to publication for this contemporary gothic novel – something to keep you awake during those autumn nights by the fireplace at Lunga House or reclining in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. Where better to celebrate than on our epic journey to the land of so many great writers – from Walter Scott, Burns, and Stevenson to Rankin and Rowling.

Also, later in 2020, we’ll post a short reading list of Scottish literature that you might find handy during the retreat – this list of stories, poems, and short essays will help you feel more connected to the literature, history, and culture of Scotland. Except for traveling, there’s nothing like a good book to inspire your own words.

COST
(CAD, including tax)

$3,735 per person based on double occupancy
$4,219 per person based on single occupancy​

Writing Highlights

  • A full writing retreat with award-winning author and IMPAC Dublin nominee, Dr. Gerard Collins, a writer and mentor with more than two decades of experience teaching university English. 
  • Two writing workshops.
  • A one-on-one meeting to discuss your writing, and additional access during retreat.
  • Honest, gentle written commentary and feedback on a ten-page, double-spaced sample of your writing
  • Group readings, discussions, opportunities to share your work with other writers
  • Encouraging atmosphere and plenty of writing time
  • Open to all level of writers, from emerging to professional, and all genres

Touring Highlights

  • 6 nights at Lunga House 
  • 5 nights at Apex Grassmarket Hotel
  • 6 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 suppers
  • Land transfers
  • Ferry and tour around the Isle of Mull
  • ​Cruise around Loch Lomond
  • Full writing retreat, including workshops, one-on-one meetings, written commentary, group readings

To register, or for questions, contact Go and Write! at [email protected].

Please register by April 30, 2021
Lunga House has only 11 rooms, so space is limited!

​Note: In our efforts to keep costs low for you, we have NOT included credit card or PayPal fees. The credit card processing charges 3.4% per transaction, and PayPal charges 2.9% for Canadians and 3.7% for Americans. If you wish to pay using credit card or PayPal, we can still make that happen, but we will have to account for that extra cost and add it to your fee. For those who’d rather spend their money on a beer at a Scottish pub than hand it over to The Evil Empire, we recommend secure e-transfers via your online banking. Contact [email protected].

Airfare is not included in the trip, and travellers are responsible for arranging their own flights. We’ll meet at the Glasgow Airport on Sunday, September 12, 2021 and travel together by private coach to Lunga House. Once we have a clearer sense of timing, we’ll share the coach departure information so you can book your flights accordingly.

Costs are tax included, land only. A non-refundable deposit is due when you reserve your space. Final payment is due June 2021. Travel insurance is highly recommended. A valid passport is required – remember that you could be turned away at the airport if your passport is within a few months of expiry, so be sure to check your passport expiry date against what Scotland will allow. This almost happened to us – it was only by the grace of the attendant that we were allowed to board the plane!