Media Release: Top literary figures find novel use for luxury retreat


A LUXURY corporate retreat in Scotland is diversifying into the activity holiday market with the launch of Literature on the Loch, a series of creative writing breaks run by prominent literary professionals.

Award-winning novelists Aly Monroe, Christopher Brookmyre and Andrew Williams, literary agent Maggie McKernan and David Robinson, books editor of The Scotsman, are among those taking part in the new venture at Ardoch, a 17-bedroom retreat on a 133-acre estate at Loch Lomond.

The five-day programme is aimed at unpublished authors, from beginners with little or no experience of writing fiction to those who have embarked on a first novel but have yet to find a publisher.

It will take up to 12 writers through a series of workshops and tutorials that will cover the different aspects and stages of the fiction writing process, including developing ideas; the importance of setting; constructing characters that feel real; structure, plot and story; style and voice; and a discussion about the all important process of revision, rewriting, editing and polishing.

There will also be daily presentations by authors, agents and literary critics that will give participants an idea of the challenges and rewards of being published.

They can use their free time to explore the area’s many attractions including its wildlife, hillwalking, sailing, golf, whisky tours and Highland Games.

Ardoch aims to host up to four of the paid for courses per year and is taking bookings for the first one to be delivered in the Spring.

Course co-leader Maggie McKernan, who held senior positions at Secker & Warburg, Jonathan Cape and Orion during 25-year career in publishing before launching her own literary agency in 2006, said the programme will give participants valuable expert coaching in a relaxing, luxury holiday environment.

“Aspiring writers are often people with busy lives and responsible jobs who don’t have the time to attend demanding creative writing courses at universities and colleges.

Literaure on the Loch allows them pursue their interest in writing while they are on holiday in a stunning setting and in the company of like-minded people.”

Aly Monroe, whose most recent novel Icelight won last year’s CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger for crime fiction, said: “The setting and the views from Ardoch are breathtaking. There’s the loch, the hills to the north, but most of all an extraordinary sense of calm, an almost edge of the world magic, a sort of visual balm. It is wonderfully freeing.”

“I’m looking forward to combining my writer’s hat and my teaching hat – and to helping each person develop their own individual voice and style.”

Christopher Brookmyre said: “Ardoch is a perfect environment for nurturing creativity. It’s a lot easier to find inspiration gazing across the waters of Loch Lomond than staring out into the same old rainy street.”

Ardoch was developed between 2006 and 2010 around a farmhouse, fusing traditional and modern architecture to produce a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose facility. In 2010 its ownership was transferred to the not-for-profit Ardoch Foundation which supports children’s and young people’s charities.

Reclaimed materials, high-quality furniture, comfortable rooms, naturally-lit meeting spaces and an impressive art collection create a welcoming and purposeful interior. Its facilities include a large dining hall, two meeting rooms, numerous other spaces that are suitable for ‘break-out’ sessions and an extensive covered terrace with views north to the Highlands.

Ardoch’s own water supply, its renewable energy sources and an estate management programme that has included planting more than a 1,000 trees, stocking an enlarged lake with trout and upgrading the grazing land, testify to its environmental awareness. All the food served on the estate is fresh and locally sourced.

Peter Armitage, a retired portfolio manager who invested several million pounds of his own money into the venture, said: “Literature on the Loch is a departure for Ardoch which has, until now, catered mainly to corporate guests holding seminars, staff development courses and to entertain clients.

“We are delighted to host a writing course which, we anticipate will be the first in a series of arts-based activity holidays that will focus mainly at the luxury end of the market. We hope to attract budding writers from across the UK and beyond.”


Notes to editors:

  • For more information and to book a place on the writing programme go to:
  • The five-day open course fee for 2013 is £1500 for a single room. Rates for double and twin rooms are available upon request. Course fees include all workshops, tutorials, guest readings and full board accommodation.
  • A deposit of £300 is required to secure booking with the balance payable six weeks before the start of the course.
  • For  bookings and enquiries please telephone Robert and Penny Cockill on +44 (0) 1389 710401 or +44 (0) 77 603 95552 or email

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