18 days (+ optional 5 days in Orkneys)
12-29 August 2017
Led by Dr Christopher Carter & Dr Inga Simpson
Group size: 10-16
Edinburgh – Trossachs NP – Cairngorms NP – Isle of Skye – Isle of Harris/Lewis – Inverness – John o’ Groats – Orkney Islands
“One never quite knows the mountain, or one’s self in relation to it”
~ Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain.
This tour is designed for writers with an interest in the natural world. Dr Inga Simpson (Nest, Mr Wigg & Where the Trees Were) teams up with archaeologist Dr Christopher Carter (Time Travel Australia), to bring you a unique combination of travel and retreat, walking and writing, against a background of spectacular natural, human and literary histories. We’ll explore some of the wildest landscapes of Scotland: the Trossachs and Cairngorms national parks, the Isle of Skye, Harris & Lewis, and the Orkney Islands. Along the way, we’ll also learn how to better capture the natural world on the page.
We’ll meet up in Edinburgh, UNESCO City of Literature, during festival season, retracing the steps of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson to take in the city’s highpoints: Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, and the Royal Mile. We’ll also get amongst it at the National Book Festival, the biggest writers festival in the world!
Then we’ll head inland to the Trossachs, landscapes that have inspired many writers and artists, including Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, & Samuel Coleridge. The national park is a haven for bird and wildlife, featuring stunning scenery and many wonderful walks. We’ll walk Loch Katrine – one of the settings in Stevenson’s Kidnapped, hiding place of outlaw Rob Roy, and the inspiration for Scott’s “Lady of the Lake” – and stroll through remnants of the Great Wood of Caledon, the historic native wood of Scotland. We’ll also visit some of the region’s historical highlights, and taste its best whiskeys. Inspired by so much natural beauty and history, we’ll begin our daily writing workshops, learning how to evoke what we see in words. We’ll be staying at the scenic Lake of Monteith Hotel.
Then we’re off to Cairngorms National Park, the largest in the UK, containing its highest mountains, and home to many rare and endangered species, including highland tigers, golden eagles, capercaillies, water voles, ptarmigan’s and pine martens. We’ll have a chance to see and photograph some of the wildlife up close. The Cairngorms are the subject of Nan Shepherd’s classic, The Living Mountain. We’ll be retracing her steps, and learning how to link character and plot to place.
Then we cross the water to the Isle of Skye, famous for its spectacular scenery, wildlife and history. We’ll stay in Portree, like R.L Stevenson when he sailed around Skye and the inner Hebrides. We’ll see the Flodigary fossils, evidence of clearances, and walk through the island’s most spectacular scenery, including Neist Point Lighthouse and Quiraing Loop. We’ll travel to Dunvegen Castle and take a boat ride to see seals up close. We’ll also have our final workshop, leaving us free to enjoy the sights and continue to record what we see in our journals and photographs.
On Harris and Lewis we’ll visit the Stornaway Museum, and a number of Neolithic sites including Callanish Standing Stones and the Trussel Stone. We’ll also visit the site where the Lewis Chessmen were found before spending the night at Amhuinnsuidhe Castle.
We’ll overnight at Inverness, before heading up to John O’ Groats, to take the coastal walk to the Rock Stacks of Duncansby.
Chris will then lead us on the optional 5-day leg to the intriguing Orkney Islands, the setting for Amy Liptrot’s recent smash hit, The Outrun, and where R.L. Stevenson toured with his father in June 1869, inspecting lighthouses for the Northern Lighthouse Board. We’ll se some of the best-known Neolithic sites in the UK including Skara Brae, the Standing Stones of Stenness, and the Ring of Brodgar, and have the opportunity walk around the entire island of Hoy, some of the most dramatic cliff landscapes in the world.
We’ll stay in historic buildings in beautiful natural settings. Chris will lead alternate activities for non-writing partners including: historical & archaeological excursions, wildlife photography workshops, fly fishing lessons, and whiskey tastings.
Our time spent immersed in the Trossachs and Cairngorms national parks will include daily writing workshops covering research, descriptive techniques, emotion and story, linking plot, character and place, and how to develop your manuscript into a polished masterpiece. We’ll also consider issues such as writing for advocacy, anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism. In the final workshop, on Skye, we’ll wrap up with a session on self-editing and paths to publication.
The workshops utilise a mixture of tuition, examples, practical writing exercises and group discussion. They are suitable for writers at all levels and stages, whether working on fiction or nonfiction, literature or genre, nature writing, travel writing, memoir, or travel blogs and diaries.
You’ll also receive one-on-one feedback on up to 5000 words submitted beforehand.
The Great Wood of Caledon
Rock Stacks of Duncansby
Callanish Standing Stones
Unique bird and wildlife
Whiskey and gin tastings
Tour leader and local guides for the duration of the tour
Accommodation (twin-share) in 4-star accommodation with private facilities. Single supplement available on request
Land transport on private, chartered mini-coach
7 writing workshops with Inga Simpson
Individual feedback on 5000 words submitted beforehand
Entries to sites listed in itinerary
Comprehensive tour booklet
Group tips (bus drivers, local guides)
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot
The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd
A High and Lonely Place, Jim Crumley
The Great Wood, Jim Crumley
Findings by Kathleen Jamie
Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie
Rob Roy by Walter Scott
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Picturesque Notes by Robert Louis Stevenson
“The Lady of the Lake” by Walter Scott
*Orkneys extension: $2440.00
*Based on twin share. Single supplement $2750 for base tour, $810 for extension.
Currency fluctuations above 3% will affect the final fare (based on 0.55 GBP).
For a more detailed itinerary or more information about the writing workshops, email firstname.lastname@example.org