AN UPDATE FROM GERARD AND JANIE
Many of us dream of that amazing trip to Scotland – the freedom to wander 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 brought a global pandemic, changing the way we see everything, including travel. Our amazing providers all agreed to let us shift the dates to September 2021, and when it became clear that 2021 still wasn’t going to be able to happen, they all agreed, again, to shift our group to September 2022.
We’ll be so thankful to celebrate in Scotland after more than two years of living with the new reality, and we hope you’ll join us on our journey.
GO AND WRITE! SCOTLAND 2022
In September 2022, 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 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.
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.
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.
Some of you may wish to go adventuring on your own. For those who are interested in exploring beyond Lunga and Craobh Haven, 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.
Our travellers tend to want more time for writing and a good amount of independent wandering, so we have deliberately not included Oban or Kilmartin Glen on our formal itinerary; still, as the time draws nearer, if the group wants additional, pay-as-you-go outings like the above-mentioned jaunts, we can help make those arrangements.
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 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’ Museum, The 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 Chapel, Hadrian’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.
We’ll soon 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.
(CAD, including tax)
$3,279 per person based on double occupancy
$4,339 per person based on single occupancy
- 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
- 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 December 31, 2021
Lunga House has only 11 rooms, so space is limited!
A few notes
You may be required to climb stairs at certain points during this retreat.
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 morning, September 11, 2022 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, and do not include flights. A non-refundable deposit is due when you reserve your space. Final payment is due May 2022. 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!
Travellers are responsible to research the implications of COVID-19 on travel restrictions at home and abroad. Ensure you have everything you need so you aren’t turned away from establishments or airports. We expect those joining us to be fully vaccinated.
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 Empires, we recommend secure e-transfers via your online banking. Contact [email protected].