GO AND WRITE! SCOTLAND 2022
September 11-22, 2022
Originally planned for 2020, then rescheduled for 2021, we were finally able to host our great (and patient!) group of writers in Scotland in September 2022. We spent six nights at 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, Lochgilphead
Lunga House, the “small castle with a big heart,” saw Iain tending the fires in the hearths each day, a variety of fresh-made suppers with a hearty breakfast each morning, and plenty of places to stretch out and do some writing, reading, chatting, or daydreaming on fine fall days.
Our day trip to the fabled Isle of Mull started with a tour of the Duart Castle, tended by the McLean families, followed by a visit to the fishing port of Tobermory (Tobar Mhoire—Well of Mary), where we wandered the town to shop and grab lunch. Then we were off to the beautiful Calgary Beach for a walk in the sand before returning to Lunga for the night.
We kept the touring portion of this trip light by design, at the request of the original group of participants for the 2020 trip. This structure gave us a sense of what Scotland is all about while allowing more time to focus on writing on the castle grounds or in the nearby area.
LOCH LOMOND AND THE TROSSACHS NATIONAL PARK
On our seventh day in Scotland, we said goodbye to Lunga House and boarded our coach to travel in comfort toward Edinburgh. Along the way, we visited the bonny banks of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and saw for ourselves how the grandeur and history of the country could inspire an entire literary movement.
Edinburgh is a traveler’s dream, especially if you’re a writer. We stayed at the Apex Grassmarket Hotel in rooms with a castle view, immersed in the historic Grassmarket area and moments away from the famous Royal Mile.
It just so happened that, a few days before we arrived in Scotland, Queen Elizabeth passed away, and her funeral was held while we were in Edinburgh. Because we were unsure which establishments would be open that day, we rented the Wee Pub (known as the smallest pub in Scotland) and held what Gerard dubbed an Irish wake for an English Queen in a Scottish pub. It was an intimate afternoon of singing and readings, with the funeral coverage running silently on the television in the background.
The emphasis on this leg of the retreat was for each participant to find their own inspiration for writing. With plenty of coffee-houses, pubs, green spaces, restaurants, and countless wonderful places there for the taking, Edinburgh offered several places to settle in to write. We ended the retreat with a group supper and an evening of song and readings before saying goodbye.