Zoë Strachan – Tutor
Louise Welsh – Guest Reader
Guest Reader
19th – 24th July 2021
Course Date

This retreat is for writers who need time and space to move forward with a long-form prose project. Maybe you’re stuck halfway through, have all the ideas but not enough written down, or are just finding that there aren’t enough hours in a day?

We’ll have a daily writing workshop to highlight specific techniques and editorial strategies, and to consider extracts of your work in progress.  Each writer will have a daily individual 30 minute tutorial, to discuss how to keep going in order to achieve a finished draft. We’ll also consider working towards publication.

Zoë Strachan - The Garsdale Retreat

Tutor: Zoë Strachan – Writer

Zoë Strachan is the author of three novels: Ever Fallen in Love, Spin Cycle and Negative Space.

Ever Fallen in Love was shortlisted for the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards and the Green Carnation Prize and nominated for the London Book Awards. Negative Space won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book of the Year Award.

Zoë’s short stories and essays have appeared in various magazines and anthologies internationally and been broadcast on BBC Radio. Works for theatre include Panic Patterns (with Louise Welsh, Citizen’s Theatre and BBC Radio Scotland) and Old Girls (which opened the 2009/10 season of A Play, a Pie and a Pint at Òran Mór). Her short opera Sublimation (with composer Nick Fells) toured Scotland in May 2010 with Scottish Opera before going to Cape Town, South Africa in November 2010. The Lady from the Sea, a full-length opera composed by Craig Armstrong and based on the play by Ibsen, premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2012, where it won a Herald Angel Award. She has a long-standing sound art/experimental radio collaboration with composer Nichola Scrutton.

Between 2011 and 2014 she co-edited New Writing Scotland, Scotland’s principle forum for poetry and short fiction, and in 2014 she curated a new anthology of LGBT writing from Scotland, Out There (Freight) – the first of its kind in over a decade. In 2020, she was one of the judges for the Dublin International Literary Award.

Zoë has been UNESCO City of Literature writer-in-residence at the National Museum of Scotland, a Hermann Kesten Stipendiaten, a Hawthornden Fellow, and a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellow. In 2011 she undertook a British Council visiting fellowship at the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa and in 2012 she was visiting faculty at Dartmouth College. Her day job is as Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.

www.zoestrachan.com / @zoestrachan

Photo: Ajamu

Louise Welsh - The Garsdale Retreat

Guest, Wednesday evening: Louise Welsh – Writer

Louise Welsh is the author of eight novels including, The Cutting Room, Death is a Welcome Guest and No Dominion. She is the editor of Ghost, One Hundred Stories to Read with the Lights On (2016). Louise was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts by Edinburgh Napier University (2015) and was a University of Otago’s Scottish Writers Fellow at the Wallace Arts Centre in New Zealand (2016). She has presented over thirty BBC radio features and written many short stories and articles. Louise has written libretti for four operas including Scottish Opera’s production of Anthropocene (music by Stuart MacRae) which premiered in January 2019. She has also written for the stage. Her new play King Keich premiered at Òran Mór in October, 2019.

Louise is co-director (with Jude Barber) of the Empire Café, an award winning collective exploring Scotland’s relationship with empire. (@theempirecafe) Louise is Professor of Creative Writing at University of Glasgow and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


Photo: Julie Broadfoot

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

Single – En-suite room £845

Single – Shared bathroom £795

Shared Room (2 Beds) £745pp

Non-residential (inc. lunch and evening meal) £605

TO BOOK £150 deposit payable on booking by bank transfer, PayPal or cheque, to secure place. Balance due four weeks before the start of the course/tutored retreat/untutored retreat.
Please see Terms and Conditions.
Accommodation Professional tutor and mid-week guest
All Meals Sheets & Towels
Boots/outdoor shoes/trainers suitable for walking on rough/wet paths.
A waterproof jacket or coat.
Warm Clothes
Toiletries – we do have one hair dryer available
Writing materials: your personal writing preference – laptop, paper, pens etc.
USB memory stick: for printing your work. (We do have air printing so may not be necessary)
Cash: for books on sale (written by tutors, guest readers etc.), alcohol, sundries. The nearest cash machine is in Hawes, six miles away!

Please arrive between 3:00pm and 5:00pm on Monday 19th July 2021

Tea and cake 4.30pm

Introductory Workshop 5.45 – 6.45pm


After breakfast, 10:00am on Saturday 24th July 2021

LOCATION The Garsdale Retreat, Clough View, Garsdale Head, Sedbergh, Cumbria LA10 5PW
Nearest railway station: Garsdale, on the Leeds – Carlisle line.
For directions, see Find Us section on the Contact page.


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 3.00 – 5.00pm. On this first day, tea and cake are at 4.30pm followed by an introductory/ice-breaking workshop 5.45 – 6.45pm. Dinner is at 7.00pm. All courses end after breakfast on Saturday (10.00am).

Course Structure

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

8.00 – 9.00am: Breakfast

9.30 – 11.00am: First workshop – Students explore particular aspects of the chosen genre and take part in writing exercises to further their understanding and expertise. 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.

11.00 – 11.30am: Coffee break

11.30am – 1.00pm: Second workshop

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.

4.30pm: Tea and cake

5.30 – 6.30pm: Third workshop

7.00pm: Dinner

All students have one individual tutorial of 30 minutes with the tutor in the course of the week which usually takes place at a mutually agreed time, usually in the afternoon.

Each evening, at about 8.30pm, 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 word/literary game. On Friday, there is a reading of work produced during the week.

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 the writing is essentially work-in-progress. However, the aim of the anthology is to reflect a flavour of the work accomplished on the course and to provide participants 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.

Tutored Retreats

These follow the same basic structure as above except there is only one workshop in the morning and participants will have a daily tutorial, four per week.

Untutored Retreats

The only formal structure of the week is determined by meal-times (see above), allowing participants to concentrate totally on their own writing. After dinner, participants in conjunction with the course director sometimes organise evening read-rounds of their work /open mics/music /word games. However, participation in such events is entirely voluntary and people are free to continue with their writing in the evenings if they prefer.

Tutored Retreat - Novel Writing Course Retreat 2021