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   Writing Retreat  




For the moment, Solus Or remains closed to guests. 

Despite the relaxing of the lockdown restrictions, the Scottish government is still advising caution with mixing households and meeting indoors. We feel that these restrictions would prevent us from providing our guests with the hospitable and convivial atmosphere that is key to our retreats. We are also reluctant to accept future bookings until we can be confident that we are unlikely to have to cancel visits because either we or a guest test positive for Covid. 

Our intention is still that we'll reschedule any postponed retreats as soon as circumstances allow. We are hoping that this will be in spring 2022, but we'll make further announcements as the winter progresses. 

In the meantime, we're continuing to run our programme of virtual retreats that you can 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 and video!) but we hope to offer you an enjoyable and productive way of passing the time. For those living locally to the Black Isle, we also running a non-residential writing weekend in conjunction with Cromarty Arts at the Old Brewery in Cromarty on 6/7th November. https://www.cromartyartstrust.org.uk/events/6-nov-2021-creative-writing-for-all.asp


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. 



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. 



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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!



A NEW PROGRAMME OF RETREATS WILL BE PUBLISHED AS SOON AS WE ARE ABLE TO REOPEN - PLEASE KEEP WATCHING THIS SPACE AND OUR FACEBOOK PAGE (https://www.facebook.com/solusorwritingretreat/). In the meantime, details of our next virtual retreat are given below. 


Virtual Crime Writing Retreat – 12-14 November 2021
(Friday afternoon to Sunday evening, UK time)
In this virtual retreat we’ll be covering all things crime! If you want to write anything in the crime genre

from short stories to novel series, this one’s for you.
Prompts and writing exercises will cover: 
Characters - both goodies and baddies;
dastardly deeds and criminal intent;
clues and investigations;
and much more!
The virtual retreat will cost £25, and this will cover

all handouts, feedback on exercises throughout the weekend,

and a full critique of a piece of work of up to 2,500 words.
If you're interested in booking a place on this virtual retreat, please e-mail us for more details.



“A fantastic atmospheric and beautiful setting totally conducive to firing the imagination to produce the best written/creative work”