Be the first to know about our retreats...

Creative Wilderness Weekend

Photography, Storytelling, Woodland Crafts & adventures in the Highlands

Join us for a creative weekend in the wilds of the Cairngorms. You'll embrace nature, getting your hands dirty on woodland crafts, being guided through the forest and foraging. You'll learn about your voice and narrative, and be enthralled by a storyteller. And you'll hone this narrative and nature into an image through pinhole paper photography, and a real, on site, mobile photography darkroom will let you produce the tangible, tactile results there and then.

The ancient Caledonian Forest is our den for art, exploration and adventure. Learn new creative practices, stretch yourself, swim in the whisky coloured streams and lochs, and return exhausted but beaming to our wonderful, old Inshriach House, nestled in the landscape, for delicious, healthy meals, cosy nights by the fire, and a cleansing sweat in the sauna.

Teachers

Sarah Hobbs | Storyteller

Dave Hunt | Analogue Photographer

Wooden Tom | Green Woodworking

13th - 16th October 2022
Inshriach House

£500pp own room
£450pp twin
£400pp double



What's Included

3 nights accommodation
All your meals and non-alcoholic drinks
Loads of photography
Loads of the art of storytelling
Loads of woodland crafts
A guided wilderness and foraging hike
Unlimited time in the sauna, hot tub and swimming in the river
Unlimited time for whittling, writing, sketching, developing

Our Activities

Craft your narrative. Through these art forms, we'll tease out the story of the landscape, which will ground our efforts as we learn, piece by piece how our stories can be expressed. The wild gives us a fresh slate to discover new creative outlets, perspectives and experiences.

Photography. In forcing ourselves to frame what we see - to exclude most of what surrounds us from shot - we are forced to confront what we choose to keep in. Seeing becomes a conscious choice, and what we see is given fresh appreciation. Passive watching becomes active seeing. It places us in the world, not apart from it.

Photography transforms the world into light and forms; geometric and abstract; and we can learn to capture their connections and themes.

Our photography will be perfectly matched to the surroundings - tangible, analogue and old-fashioned. Pinhole cameras and the on-site darkroom let us conjure images out of nature right there and then.

Woodland crafts. To get our hands dirty and create something tangible from the raw materials the woodlands have to offer is to find an anchor with which to root our experience and to unlock further exploration of the natural world.


Wicker baskets, carved bowls allow us to blur the all-too-often sharp boundary between where we leave off and the woods begin. And they provide mementos to treasure and return to, in turn keeping the wild and our engagement in it fresh in our minds.

Storytelling. Our meaning, and the meaning of the land to us, has been crafted and sustained for millenia in the spoken word. We have told stories as parables, descriptions, warnings, explanations, connections, causations. We have leaped into flights of fancy; rabbit holes of association; magic, wonder and awe. We have fostered community, purpose, survival and joy in ourselves and others. We can use these tools to craft or own stories, whether silently or out loud.

All our activities will be a combination of inside and outside sessions, with the option to remain indoors in the event of cats and dogs.

Our teachers

Sarah Hobbs

Storyteller and educator, Sarah brings a connection to the land and an authenticity not easily found.

Respected as much for her love of the craft as her expertise of it, Sarah brings the landscape truly alive and resonant.

www.storywalks.scot
www.facebook.com/strathspeystorywalks

Dave Hunt

Vintage and fine art photographer based in the stunning Glen Lyon in Perthshire, Scottish Highlands.

Working with digital alongside vintage analogue film and the wet plate collodion process.

davehunt.co
www.facebook.com/DavehPhoto
www.instagram.com/wildgrass.studio/

Wooden Tom

With over 15 years experience of working with wood and a passion for teaching, Tom is based right here at Inshriach.

Ground the creative process in the very materials of our surroundings, through green woodworking.

woodentom.com/
www.facebook.com/woodentom1/

Schedule

Artistic expression and woodland immersion will be expertly guided by analogue photographer Dave Hunt, storyteller Sarah Hobbs and green woodworker Wooden Tom. Our own retreat cook will help us create a delicious plant-based menu.

We've got an inspiring line-up of stimulating activities, and there will be plenty of time over the weekend for wild swimming, walking and relaxation too. Depending on weather, etc, we might switch activities around a bit, but this should give a flavour of how the threads of the retreat could tie together.

On Thursday we'll enjoy dinner and then settle in and have some light-hearted introductions to ground everyone in the location and allow everyone to feel at ease in the group. We might do a wee no-pressure meditation. We'll make pinhole cameras. And we'll chat about the weekend ahead.

On Friday we'll have the option of waking the day with self-guided meditation and yoga. Over breakfast we'll chat through our plans for the day before delving into the woods. The landscape, the plants, the traditions, language and history that ties us to it - we'll explore all of this.

After lunch we'll get our first taster of analogue photography as we venture out to our newly-familiar nature to practice framing the scene, finding the subject and folding the light into the camera.

Wooden Tom will then take us through the art of green-woodworking, using locally sourced materials, grounding us more in our surroundings.

That evening, we'll wind down for the day as we hear a story from Sarah, as she introduces the thread of the narrative to our weekend.


On Saturday we combine our new photography skills and narrative with our craftsmanship, as we experiment with our new cameras outside, and eagerly await the alchemic result in the on-site darkroom. Afternoon will be a time of reflection and storymaking, with Sarah on hand to bounce ideas off and tell more of the craft.

After dinner, we'll have a quick check-in before retiring to our whittling, scribbling, reading by the cozy fire or indulging in the sauna, to sweat out the weekend's dirt and reflect with satisfaction, before we collapse, exhausted in our beds.

Sunday morning sees a final yoga/meditation open session and hearty breakfast, before a morning of tying up nearly-finished projects, a last walk around, or a cleansing dip in the stream. After lunch with our new pals we send you on your way, nourished, inspired and invigorated!

Our venue

The glorious Inshriach House is nestled at the edge of Inshriach Forest, itself on the first slopes of the Cairngorms. The house is in 250 acres of rolling estate which rises from the Spey, where the sauna and swimming beckon. All of this is ready for exploring!
The woods and estate offer everything from gentle strolls, to stunning viewpoints, to dells, nooks and lochans. Granny pines, fresh shoots, juniper bushes, and moss carpeting the forest floor.

Our Retreat Menu

Meals are a communal, hands-on affair. Your meals will be created under the guidance of our cook. Helping us to craft a delicious menu, they will take all the stress away from cooking, and we'll all gain an insight into the wizardry of catering for a large group. You'll be served an abundant and nourishing menu that will incorporate plants we find on our foraging walk, be that pine bark bread, lingons, haws, or rosehips.

Contact Us

We'd love to hear from you.
Send us an email.

Travel to the Cairngorms

There can be few better ways to start a retreat, to cleanse ourselves of city air, than the breathtaking approach to Strathspey. From the south, both road and rail mount one of the higher passes in the UK. From the north, the gentle whisky country of Speyside paves the way to ever-wilder lands ahead.

Train to the Highlands: Our nearest station is Aviemore, only 3 miles away. The Caledonian Sleeper from London is direct, as are trains from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth. We can arrange collection from Aviemore Station.

Plane to the Highlands: Our nearest international airport is Inverness, just under an hour away. We can organise a taxi for you, or there are regular trains from Inverness itself to Aviemore.

Car to the Highlands: Set the sat-nav for this location. We'll send out more details closer to the time, too.