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Residential Writing Retreat

Tutor : Iain MacDonald


Dates : Wednesday 14th August to Sunday 18th August 2024


Location : Nutsford House, Exmoor

For further information, please contact us at

or 07554748835

Learn to turn everyday experience into inspiring, entertaining writing. Structured workshops and gentle tutorial support from Iain MacDonald will cover many aspects of this rewarding (and occasionally therapeutic) aspect of creative writing. Workshops will be low-pressure, accommodating and nurturing so that you feel able to produce your best work, and there will be space, amid the beautiful surroundings of Nutsford House on the edge of Exmoor, to explore your creativity. Iain’s work, even when dealing with serious topics, is shot through with humour so there is likely to be lots of laughter. Iain will be joined by guest speaker Mark Crees on the Friday evening. Mark will join us for supper and entertain us with a literary performance! Our aim is that you leave refreshed, inspired and empowered to take your writing to the

next level.

The week is fully catered with all your meals home cooked on the Aga by hosts Amanda and James, using locally and sustainably sourced, predominantly vegetarian produce. Breakfast includes a choice of cooked options, there are homemade soups, quiches or salads for lunch, and a two course meal in the evening. Coffee, tea and cake are available through the day to help you write.

The group will be small and supportive. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss taking part or if you have any particular requirements. 

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As well as being a writer, Iain MacDonald has been a teacher, freelance journalist, naval officer and weather forecaster. His work includes poetry, plays, short stories, songs, and educational and general interest journalism. He has been a regular contributor to the Scotsman and the Times Educational Supplement, and his short stories have been anthologised with those of Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin, and broadcast on Radio 4.


Most recently Iain has published two full-length novels under the name of Kim Sancreed: Mentoring Mr Singleman and The Unbinding of Edward Tremenhere, and he is currently working on a third to complete the trilogy. All these books draw on his own experiences as a teacher and a grateful inhabitant of west Cornwall, where he swims, sails and occasionally attempts to surf.


Last year Iain and guest speaker Mark Crees took their two-man show about Burns and Wordsworth to the Penzance Literary Festival.

Nutsford House is a peaceful haven for writing. It is also Amanda and James’ home which they share on a permanent basis with their dog, two cats and a library of books, and on a temporary basis with Bed and Breakfast guests. So, they enjoy welcoming visitors and making them feel at home.

Nestled in the Brockey Valley on the edge of Exmoor, this 1920s house has been recently restored to combine its original grandeur with 21st century convenience. It stands in 10 acres of landscaped gardens and private woodland, tucked in amongst trees and babbling streams, with the wilds of Exmoor rising above it.


The south facing, light-filled house has five bedrooms and three bathrooms, and there is plenty of space throughout the house to relax and write. The dining room serves both as a grand venue for communal dining and a space for collaborative workshops. The library is a quiet spot for reading or writing.


And, if you can’t find inspiration in the house, the grounds are all yours to explore. The landscaped gardens are a delight for horticulturists and the woodland a calm escape for wildlife enthusiasts. During your stay, you are bound to see our amazing red deer who regularly pass through the woods.


There is walking right from the front door and the small town of Dulverton is only a couple of miles away, where you’ll find shops, pubs, two bookshops and a wellbeing centre.



With guest speaker Mark Crees

Mark Crees is a writer, musician and teacher whose work has been published in the Threepenny Review and the TLS. He is also the only rock drummer in the Southwest with a PhD in Victorian Literature.


Mark will join us for dinner on the Friday evening of the retreat. Afterwards, he will be performing "Something is Happening", a series of music-based monologues of family life, and answering questions on his creative processes.

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£625 per person for a single room

(all bathrooms shared between two rooms)

Dinner on Saturday, spa/treatments and alcohol not included in the price

Please contact us for a price if you're interested in sharing a room

Course at a glance


Arrive in the afternoon, settle in, enjoy dinner together and the tutor’s introduction to the week.



Morning workshops led by tutor. Afternoons are your time for writing. Late afternoon trip to bookshops in Dulverton. Dinner in the evening.



Morning workshops led by tutor. Afternoons are your time for writing. Late afternoon trip up onto the moor. In the evening a guest speaker joins the group.



Final workshops in the morning alongside some one-to-one tutorials. There is an opportunity to book a massage/treatment in the afternoon. Everyone gathers in the evening for a meal out at The Royal Oak in Winsford.



The week comes to a close after breakfast - departures by 11am.

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15.00 to 16.00 - Arrival of participants. We’ll show you to your rooms and offer light refreshments.


16.15 - Welcome talk from your hosts, Amanda and James. This will cover practical and domestic arrangements for the week


17.30 - First group workshop. Your tutor will introduce himself and outline plans for the week. 


19.00 - Dinner


The rest of the evening is free for you to relax and prepare for the week ahead.

Writing by the Water
It was all fabulous! Loved the writing and the food!

Eileen from Oxford, 2023

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