Eilean Shona, the wild private island off the dramatic west coast of Scotland, is to play host to a six-night Writing Workshop from 22-28 March 2021. Led by Raffaella Barker, both an acclaimed author of nine novels and a lecturer in creative writing, the Retreat will welcome all writers, whether published or not. 

Reflecting the creative spirit of the island, its owner, Vanessa Branson, is once again inviting aspiring but, as yet, unpublished writers under the age of 35 to apply for a free scholarship place. The free place, to include full board, is worth £1,600 and will also cover return UK travel expenses.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it was while holidaying on this car-free island 100 years ago that JM Barrie found the inspiration for Peter Pan’s Neverland.  With no TVs or flight path, cut off from the stresses of the world, and surrounded by an abundance of wildlife, an Eilean Shona Writing Retreat is the perfect place to dig deep and explore creative potential. The supportive leaders and 12 like-minded participants help to make it a safe and nurturing environment, whatever the writer’s ability.


Read about Eilena Shona: Enchanted Island.


Raffaella Barker will take a series of group workshops as well as one-to-one sessions. Other optional activities include guided hikes, yoga and meditation sessions, wild swimming and boat trips, and there are opportunities to explore the island independently, too. Joining the Retreat will be Vanessa Branson, whose first book, an intergenerational memoir entitled One Hundred Summers was published earlier this year.

Raffaella Barker who lives on the Norfolk coast is best known for her novels Hens Dancing, Summertime, Come and Tell Me Some Lies, and From a Distance.  All are published by Bloomsbury. When she’s not writing fiction, Raffaella lectures in creative writing at the University of East Anglia and teaches creative writing short courses, among them the Guardian masterclass.

The Retreat will take place in the beautiful Eilean Shona House, built in the 1800s and furnished comfortably with four poster beds, vast cast iron baths and an amazing contemporary art collection.  Meals reflect the surrounding environment and the island’s commitment to health and sustainability.


Price: The 6-night Eilean Shona Writing Workshop between 22-28 March 2021 costs from £1,600pp, including full board, return transfers from the mainland, all tuition and activities. There is a mix of double and twin bedrooms, some with en suite and others with shared bathrooms. The lucky winner of the scholarship will receive the Workshop, accommodation and UK travel for free.

Getting There: From Glasgow, it is a three hour drive through the Highlands to Dorlin Pier where the island boat will pick guests up for the five minute crossing to Eilean Shona at the entrance to Loch Moidart.  Alternatively arrive by sleeper train to Fort William, which is an hour’s drive away