A MESSAGE TO OUR CUSTOMERS
In line with Government announcements over the past few days, Solus Or is currently closed to guests. We've delayed making any formal announcement until matters became clearer, although in practice we had already ceased taking new bookings earlier in the month. We have postponed the taught weekends scheduled for April and May, and anyone booked on those will have been informed. We haven't yet postponed any subsequent retreats, but we'll keep that under review over the coming weeks, and we will be contacting anyone currently booked on those retreats or on private retreats . Our intention is that we'll reschedule any postponed retreats either in the autumn or in early 2021, as circumstances allow, and we'll be happy to transfer any bookings to future dates. We'll make further announcements as events develop.
In the meantime, as many of us are now in forced self-isolation, we're also in the process of developing some ideas for virtual retreats and activities that you'll be able to join from the comfort of your own homes. Sadly, we won't be able to provide our usual food or views (except through the odd photograph!) but we hope to offer an enjoyable and productive way of passing the time.
Details of our first virtual retreat below.
Solus Or is a writing retreat established by Helen and Mike Walters in the Scottish Highlands. Helen is a well-known short-story writer, columnist and tutor, who has contributed regular columns to Writing Magazine and Writers’ Forum. Mike is better known as the crime-writer Alex Walters and is the author of thirteen published novels.
The retreat is based in our home in the Black Isle in the Highlands, set in a spectacular location with views over the Cromarty Firth and Ben Wyvis. It's a tranquil spot but also very accessible - close to Inverness Airport (with flights to many UK airports), Inverness and Dingwall railway stations (with the Caledonian Sleeper running from London to Inverness), and the A9 and North Coast 500 . We can arrange transport from the airport or stations.
We currently have five well-appointed retreat rooms, all of which have either en-suite facilities or an immediately adjacent bathroom. All our retreat rooms have private balconies which offer the same views out over Cromarty Firth and the mountains. We also have a self-contained flat available (with bedroom, sitting/writing room, kitchenette and shower room) for those seeking a more independent retreat - more details soon.
We have extensive and private gardens for those seeking inspiration outdoors and, if you’re looking to relax after a long day’s writing, we even have a sauna and steam shower.
We run a mix of scheduled taught/structured retreats (led by ourselves and guest tutors), private group retreats, and individual retreats. If you wish to visit with a group of friends or colleagues or simply come by yourself, we’ll be happy to accommodate your needs. All retreats will be fully catered to enable you to give maximum focus to your writing.
Our retreat rooms are all themed around famous authors - some Scottish, some less so. We can offer you the choice of the Brontë room, the Conan Doyle room, the Robert Louis Stevenson room, the John Buchan room or the Agatha Christie room. Three of the rooms have en-suite facilities, while the other two have an immediate adjacent bathroom.
We have a schedule of taught retreats over the year, led by Helen, Mike and a range of invited guest tutors. These are typically structured to offer a mix of taught input, one to one critiques and feedback, and free writing time.
If you'd like to come and use our facilities with a group of fellow writers, we'll be delighted to accommodate you. We can provide all catering, leaving you free to write, share ideas or simply socialise. Retreats can be as long or short as you wish, and we're happy to be flexible to meet your needs. We can also design customised taught retreats if the group has a particular interest or focus.
If you wish to come by yourself just to get away and write, we can accommodate you for as long (or short) as you wish. We can provide the catering you require to focus on your writing, privacy when you want it, and some sociability when you don't! If you'd like feedback or input on your work or to discuss writing issues, we'll be happy to help.
For private individual or group retreats, we charge £105 pppn for the en-suite rooms and £95pppn for rooms without en-suite facilities. This is based on single occupancy (although three of our rooms are doubles).
Taught retreats are priced as a package, depending on the nature and length of the retreat.
We can offer discounts for longer stays, double occupancy or for larger group retreats.
We normally ask for a 10% deposit to secure the booking, with the balance payable two weeks before arrival.
For all individual, group and taught retreats, we provide full-board catering including:
Breakfast - with the Full Scottish available along with a good selection of cereals, porridge, fruits and pastries
Lunch - typically home-made soup and a selection of savouries, local cheeses and cold meats
Dinner - a three course meal to suit participants' dietary requirements and preferences.
We aim to provide high quality home cooking, using local produce where possible to take full advantage of our Highland location.
We can accommodate most dietary requirements if you advise us in advance.
Our retreat rooms all have tea and coffee making facilities, with tea, fresh and instant coffee, fresh milk, biscuits and a few surprises.
Our bathrooms and shower rooms are stocked with a good selection of toiletries, fluffy towels, and some rogue rubber ducks.
We offer free wifi throughout the house (though happy to withhold the password if you want to avoid distractions!).
The retreat rooms each contain a well-stocked bookshelf including books by and about the themed authors as well as a selection of general fiction, and there are innumerable books scattered around the rest of the house. You're welcome to borrow and read any of our books, and we're happy to sell many of them for a nominal amount if you'd like to take them away - please just ask us!
Guests are free to make use of our extensive gardens to work, relax or just take a walk. At the front, we have a furnished decking area and lawn offering views over Cromarty Firth and Ben Wyvis. At the rear, there is a a large, secluded wooded area. In the summer, we can take advantage of the outdoor areas as teaching or writing spaces.
At the end (or the beginning) of a long day's writing, you can also make use of our sauna and steam shower for additional relaxation. Oh, and our three cats are also available for therapeutic cuddling!
TAUGHT RETREATS 2020
OUR FIRST VIRTUAL RETREAT!
17-19 April 2020
It's time to get creative!
Our first online virtual retreat will take place on the weekend of Friday 17 to Sunday 19 of April. We will start on Friday evening at 6pm and go through to Sunday afternoon at 3pm. (These will be UK times, but if people from elsewhere want to join in we'll try to keep it as flexible as possible.)
If you are interested in joining in please could you send us an e-mail to the address below including your email address so that we can email you an information form and send you further details as they become available.
The retreat itself is free of charge, but there will be the option to pay for an individual critique of a piece of work written during the weekend if you wish. The charge will be £25 for a critique of your work from either Mike or Helen. The writing can be non-fiction, poetry, a short story or an extract of a longer work up to a word count of 2,500 words.
We're going to make it an open non-themed retreat so that it will be suitable for anyone. You'll be able to write fiction, memoir, poetry or a mixture of whatever different forms and genres you like.
Throughout the weekend we'll be posting videos, hints and tips, writing prompts and more. Related hand-outs will be emailed to you as appropriate.
NEW FOR 2020! OPEN RETREAT
6-12 June 2020
Are you looking for the time and space to write while enjoying some like-minded company? If so, our summer and autumn 2020 scheduled open retreats are for you.
The main focus will simply be to allow you time for your own private writing, but Mike and Helen will be on hand to advise, and if there are particular issues or topics that you'd like to discuss either with them or with your fellow participants, you'll be able to let us know in advance. The retreat will then be tailored to suit participants' individual and collective needs.
This could include one-to-one sessions for individuals, or small group sessions if there are common themes. But if you just want to come here and write, while enjoying some hospitality and company in the evenings, we'll leave you to do just that!
The retreats will run from Saturday to the following Friday, and participants can either book for the whole period or for fewer nights to suit their diaries. The cost will be at a discounted rate of £100 pppn for an en suite room or £90 pppn for a room without en suite facilities, but if you book for the whole week the total cost will be just £560 for an en suite room or £490 for a room without en suite facilities.
If you'd like to know more about open retreats please contact us by e-mail, phone or the form below.
MIDSUMMER READING RETREAT - '
19-21 June 2020
Something different to celebrate the long midsummer days here in the Highlands. This year's summer reading retreat will feature the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! Everyone knows about Sherlock Holmes and we'll certainly be talking about the great detective a lot. But we'll also be looking at some lesser known works. Our key discussion novel will be 'The Hound Of The Baskervilles'. If you've read it before this is a great opportunity to rediscover it, and if you haven't then you're in for a treat. As well as discussions and other fun Sherlock Holmes themed activities, there will also be plenty of free reading time to read whatever you like. Either bring your own books or e-book device, or feel free to select from Solus Or's huge selection of books. The price of the retreat is £260 for an en-suite room or £230 for a room without en-suite facilities. Participants can arrive any time in the afternoon of 19 June and the retreat will run until the afternoon of 21 June. The price includes, as well as all tutoring and feedback, two nights' accommodation, full board catering with a detective-themed menu (as described in What's Included) from dinner on the Friday evening to lunch on the Sunday, and all our usual retreat facilities. If you'd prefer also to stay over on the Sunday evening, we can offer this for an additional £50 including dinner and breakfast. If you're interested in attending, please contact us by e-mail, phone or the form below to make a booking or obtain further details. We offer an 'early bird' discount of 10% for bookings made before 30 April 2020.
4-10 July 2020
SHORT STORY WRITING
17-19 July 2020
Whether you're just starting out on your short story writing journey, or you've been doing it for a while but have lost your mojo, our weekend short story writing retreat could be just what you need. With a mixture of ideas-generating exercises, private writing time and individual and group feedback you'll have a chance to kick start and improve your writing.
The retreat will be led by Helen Walters. Helen has had hundreds of short stories published by a range of women's magazines and has also contributed articles and columns to both Writing Magazine and Writers' Forum. She currently writes the monthly short story master class for Writing Magazine. Helen is an experienced teacher, having taught for Northamptonshire County Council Adult Education, West Dean College and Denman College amongst others.
The price of the retreat is £260 for an en-suite room or £230 for a room without en-suite facilities. Participants can arrive any time in the afternoon of 17 July and the retreat will run until the afternoon of 19 July. The price includes, as well as all tutoring and feedback, two nights' accommodation, full board catering (as described in What's Included) from dinner on the Friday evening to lunch on the Sunday, and all our usual retreat facilities. If you'd prefer also to stay over on the Sunday evening, we can offer this for an additional £50 including dinner and breakfast. If you're interested in attending, please contact us by e-mail, phone or the form below to make a booking or obtain further details. We offer an 'early bird' discount of 10% for bookings made before 31 May 2020
More 2020 retreats to follow shortly.
OUR GUESTS SAY...
“A fantastic atmospheric and beautiful setting totally conducive to firing the imagination to produce the best written/creative work”