Ann Pilling – Tutor
Rachel Rooney – Guest Reader
Guest Reader
1st – 6th October 2018
Course Date

A course for anyone interested in writing for children. We will be asking – What do children really want? What makes a classic tale? How do I pace my narrative? How long, how short? What about dialogue, and plotting? Fantasy? Contemporary? Historical? Horror? Knockabout fun? A look at the best (and worst) in children’s fiction, to get you started.

Ann Pilling - The Garsdale Retreat

Tutor: Ann Pilling – Writer/Poet

Ann Pilling was born in Lancashire in 1944 and lived there for 20 years. She read English at King’s College, London where she subsequently wrote a thesis on the fiction of C.S.Lewis which effectively became her first book.

Between 1983 and 2003 she published over 30 books for children and two adult novels. Her books have been translated into many languages. Two titles were commended for the Carnegie Medal and she won The Guardian Prize for Children’s Fiction for her novel Henry’s Leg.

Until 2009 Ann lived in Oxford but then moved to Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales (the country of her heart) with her husband. She has two sons and six grandchildren.

In 2003 Ann made a conscious decision to concentrate on writing poetry, always her first preference. She won the Smith/Doorstep Competition in 2008 for her pamphlet ‘Growing Pains’. ‘Home Field’, her first collection, was published later the same year. She has subsequently published two further collections.

Her poems have won many prizes. ‘The Removal’ was a 1st prizewinner in the Faber/Ottaker Competition 2002; ‘Green Woodpecker’ was a prizewinner in 2010 in the Yorkshire Open Poetry Competition; ‘Last Train’ was a subsequent winner. ‘Cold Toast’ won a prize in the first ever Troubadour Poetry Competition in 2007. ‘Breasts’ was published in the Forward Best Poems Collection of 2010.

Rachel Rooney - The Garsdale Retreat

Guest, Wednesday evening: Rachel Rooney – Poet

RacheI Rooney’s poetry collection The Language of Cat won the CLPE Poetry Award and was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal. Her next collection My Life as a Goldfish was shortlisted for the CLiPPA 2015.

Her forthcoming book A Kid in My Class will be published by Otter – Barry Books in 2018. She visits schools for workshops with pupils and has performed her work at festivals and for The Children’s Bookshow. She was Chair of Judges for the CLiPPA 2017

Photo: Michael Thorn

PRICES Fee includes all day and evening tutored workshop sessions, readings, accommodation and full board (not including alcohol).

Single – En-suite room £760
Single – Shared bathroom £710
Shared Room (2 Beds) £660
Non-residential (inc. lunch and evening meal) £500

TO BOOK £150 deposit payable on booking by PayPal, bank transfer or cheque, to secure place, balance due six weeks before start of course.
Please see Terms and Conditions.
Accommodation Professional Tutor
Meals Sheets & Towels
Boots/outdoor shoes/trainers suitable for walking on rough paths.
A waterproof jacket or coat.
Warm Clothes
Writing materials: your personal writing preference – laptop, paper, pens etc.
USB memory stick: for printing your work. (We do have air printing)
Musical instruments and drawing/painting materials – sketchbook, pens, pencils, watercolours etc. (optional!)
Drawing/painting materials – sketchbook, pens, pencils, watercolours etc.
Cash: for books written by the tutors, alcohol, taxis or sundries. The nearest cash machine is in Hawes, seven miles away.
START TIME Please arrive between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm on Monday 1st October 2018.
END TIME After breakfast, 10:00 am on Saturday 6th October 2018.
LOCATION The Garsdale Retreat, Clough View, Garsdale Head, Sedbergh, Cumbria LA10 5PW

Nearest station: Garsdale – direct line from Leeds.


The Garsdale Retreat provides an inspiring place to develop as a writer. Our courses offer opportunities for new, emerging and experienced writers. The tutors, all professional writers, lead workshops and also give one-to-one tutorials to help the individual student. In the remote and beautiful setting of The Yorkshire Dales, The Garsdale Retreat gives a wonderful opportunity to escape from the daily stresses of life and to draw inspiration from fellow students, tutors and the landscape itself.
All courses start on Monday afternoon, arrival time 4.00 – 6.00pm and finish after breakfast on Saturday, 10.00am

Course Structure

Although there will be slight variations, according to the type of course, students can generally expect the following outline:

Each day begins with a morning workshop at 9.30am where students explore particular aspects of the chosen genre and take part in writing exercises to further their understanding and expertise. Tutors also write alongside the students, sharing and developing work with participants. The immediacy of hearing or reading an expert’s emerging work gives invaluable insight and inspiration into the art of writing. All students have opportunities to share their work with the tutor and fellow writers in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment in which individual work is respected and confidence developed.
There is a mid-morning coffee break and the session finishes at lunchtime (1.00pm)
After lunch, participants are free to do whatever they like, such as: relax, go for walks, enjoy The Dales, draw, paint, read or work on individual writing projects.
All students have at least one individual tutorial which usually takes place in the early evening after tea and homemade cake.
Each evening there is an after-dinner event. The precise nature of this varies according to the type of course but participants can typically expect a tutor reading on Tuesday followed by a reading from a guest writer on the Wednesday evening. There is an informal activity on Thursday such as a student ‘open-mic’ night, or a tutor devised activity. On Friday, students and tutor take part in a reading of their work from the course-produced anthology.

All courses end after breakfast on Saturday.

Poetry Course Anthology

An integral part of poetry courses is the production of an anthology of writing produced in the week. It is, of course, accepted that work may not be completely polished and there is an element of work-in-progress about it. However, the aim of the anthology is to reflect a flavour of the work accomplished on the course by both tutor and participants and to provide them with an attractive record of their time at Garsdale. The Retreat stores copies of anthologies in the library, providing pleasure and inspiration for future students.

The Good Books Last - Writing For Children - The Garsdale Retreat