CONTACT US

If you're interested in booking a retreat for yourself or a group, or if you'd just like more information,

please get in touch with us through the contacts below... 

Tel: 01349 877818/07971 088626

Solus Or Writing Retreat, Culbokie, Dingwall, IV7 8JH

© 2023 by Anton & Lily. Proudly created with Wix.com

  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon

SOLUS OR

   Writing Retreat  
 

ABOUT

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 ROOMS

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. 

 

RETREATS

Taught Retreats

 

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. 

Group Retreats

 

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.

Individual Retreats

 

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. 

 

GALLERY

1/5
 

PRICING 

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. 

WHAT'S INCLUDED

 

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

CRIME WRITING

27-29 March 2020

This weekend retreat is aimed at all aspiring crime writers, whether you're just beginning or have a manuscript you're preparing to submit to agents or publishers. Numbers will be limited, and we'll tailor our support to suit your needs, with a mix of taught activities, critiques and one-to-one mentoring.

The retreat will be led by Alex Walters. Alex is the author of thirteen crime novels with three series published by Quercus, Harper-Collins and Bloodhound Books. His series set in the Scottish Highlands has been a Kindle Top 10 bestseller and No 1 in Scottish Crime.

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 27 March and the retreat will run until the afternoon of 29 March. 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 January 2020.

GETTING PUBLISHED

17-19 April 2020

You've finished the first draft of your novel and you want it to be published. But the question is how. The bad news is that getting your book published is likely to be even harder work than writing it. The good news, though, is that there are now more routes to publication than there've ever been – alongside the traditional major publishers, there are many excellent independents, as well as options such as crowd-funding and self-publishing.

This retreat is aimed at writers who have completed, or are close to completing, a first draft of a novel, in any genre, who are now seeking publication. We'll help you:

•    Gain a better understanding of the current state of the publishing market and the available options

•    Get your draft in the best possible shape for submission

•    Target your submissions most effectively

•    Prepare a submissions package to attract the interest of agents or publishers.

We'll also look at options for self-publishing, and consider what you'll need to do (and what you can expect) once your book is finally published.

The retreat will be led by Alex Walters, who is the author of thirteen crime novels published by Quercus, Harper Collins and Bloodhound Books, as well as three self-published novels. Alex is also the author of a forthcoming e-learning plan, Getting Published.

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 April and the retreat will run until the afternoon of 19 April. 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 29 February 2020.

COME AND WRITE WEEKEND

An Opportunity to Explore New Areas of Creative Writing

15-17 May 2020

Whether you're a new writer exploring what types of writing might suit you, or a more experienced writer looking to try out something new, this weekend could be just what you need. We'll give you the opportunity to try your hand at a range of different kinds of writing – short stories, genre writing, life writing, poetry – and explore the opportunities and challenges offered by each.

The retreat will be led by Helen and Mike 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. As Alex Walters, Mike is the author of thirteen crime novels with three series published by Quercus, Harper-Collins and Bloodhound Books. Mike is also a published poet and short story and non-fiction writer.

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 15 May and the retreat will run until the afternoon of 17 May. 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 (please note that, unfortunately, we are unable to take on-line bookings for taught retreats).  We offer an 'early bird' discount of 10% for bookings made before 31 March 2020.

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 2019

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.

​​

OPEN RETREAT

4-10 July 2020

See above. 

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”