beautiful places, writer's retreat

5 Writing Retreats You Won’t Believe Are Real

February 26, 2015

Writing retreats sound both fun and taxing. Taking time away from “real life” and going somewhere just to write doesn’t sound like everyone’s cup of tea, and it might even be a little hard to explain to people what you actually accomplish when you disappear somewhere and come back with a refined written piece under your belt.

While you can certainly go on a retreat yourself (and this article by Kathryn Cashen in Writer’s Digest talks about that), there are places and programs dedicated to giving writers the much-needed retreat, for them to get back on track. We’ll take a look at some of the few excellent writing retreats.

1. Arvon UK

Since 1968, Arvon has been offering people time and space to write, with an annual programme of residential courses and retreats at three rural writing houses – in Devon, Shropshire and Yorkshire. In beautiful countryside, with expert tuition from leading authors and the support of other like-minded writers, you can feed your imagination and let your stories flourish.
– 
from Arvon’s About Us webpage

Arvon’s writers’ retreat program offers three beautiful retreat centers for writers. Totleigh Barton, Lumb Bank, and the Hurst, are all equally attractive, idyllic writing places – and Arvon’s website has some wonderful photos and place descriptions to prove it.

The Ted Hughes Arvon Centre, Lumb Bank is an 18th-century mill-owner’s house which once belonged to Ted Hughes. The house stands in 20 acres of steep woodland, in a striking Pennine landscape of woods and rivers, fine stone houses and weavers’ cottages, packhorse trails and ruins of old mills. It is half a mile from the historic village of Heptonstall and two miles from Hebden Bridge.
– 
from Arvon’s page on Lumb Bank

the hurst

The Hurst

totleigh barton

Totleigh Barton

(Photos are from Arvon)

2. Ossabaw Island Retreat

Whether it’s exploration of Ossabaw Island’s North End where three modest cabins, used as worker housing from the 1830s through the 1980s (the remains of what are estimated to be at least nine such structures built on North End Plantation during the 1820’s to 1840’s as housing for enslaved people who worked cotton fields and tended livestock, and whose descendents tended the gardens, cooked, and cleaned for the island’s owners), or the prehistoric American Indian burial site with evidence of cremated remains… you will have plenty to occupy your creative hours on Ossabaw Island.
– from Ossabaw Island Writers’ Retreat Website

The off-coast island of Ossabaw, located near Georgia, is no stranger to writers seeking a quiet place to stay for writing projects. People like T.C. Boyle, Margaret Atwood, and Ralph Ellison, were just some of the few who have experienced the beauty of Ossabaw Island.

ossabaw

Image credit: Burnaway

3. Farncombe Estate

Farncombe Estate is perfectly placed for a short stay or holiday in the north Cotswolds. Our 400-acre private country estate is surrounded by pretty market towns, great pubs and gorgeous gardens to visit.
– From Farncombe’s website

The UK is filled with beautiful locales to visit in general, and considering that it is the country that has produced such classics as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and Dracula, to name a few, there must be something about the country that makes it the ideal place for writers to go to. Farncombe Estate only reinforces this idea. Located at the Cotswolds – one of the most beautiful places in Britain – Farncombe boasts the kind of vistas that inspire writers at first sight.

farncombe leisure courses cred

Image credit to Leisure Courses

farncombeconfecenter

Image credit to Farncombe Conference Center

4. The Watermill

Our beautiful and historic watermill stands beside the River Rosaro in the small village of Posara. Peaceful and secluded, yet part of the village, the mill is just a mile or so from the walled medieval town of Fivizzano with its cafés, restaurants and shops. This is the heart of Lunigiana, in the North-west of Tuscany.
– from The Watermill’s website

Italian landscapes and locales are always breathtaking enough to inspire anyone, regardless of whether or not one is a writer. Although, of course, any local that has its own charming history behind it is always worth looking at, there’s something uniquely inspiring about this Italian locale, that makes it a worthwhile retreat place.

the-watermill-at-posara

Image credit to TripAdvisor

sawdays courtyard

Image credit to SawDays

5. Liselund 

Denmark’s Liselund area is a beautifully designed, romantic-inspired English garden – and the site of writers’ retreats (like Hamlet’s Hideaway). And taking a look at the pictures below, it’s pretty easy to understand why:

visitmoen liselund

Image credit to VisitMoen

liselund a

moens guide 1

Credit to MoensGuide

naturplan dk

Credit to NaturPlan

 

We’ve taken a look at some of the most attractive, unreal locales for retreats that writers can go to, but again (and if you remember that Cashen article from earlier), you don’t have to travel everywhere just to find a place for your writing. But certainly, these places are beautiful, and if you do have the means to go to them, then you should. Who knows? You might end up writing something as unreal as the place you’ve visited.

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