For general information about all ‘Sisters of the Wells’ retreats, please visit this page.
‘Dancing with the Cailleach’ retreats take place on the beautiful wild coast of Argyll, on the south-west coast of Scotland. Argyll was once the centre of the ancient Gaelic sea-kingdom of Dál Riata, or Dalriada, which encompassed this part of western Scotland and the north-east of Ireland. A few miles away is the remarkable Kilmartin glen, which has one of the most important concentrations of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains in Scotland, including more than 350 ancient monuments within a six-mile radius of the village.
In this retreat we’ll be working with the rich mythology of the Cailleach, the fierce old woman of Gaelic mythology who created and shaped the land; the spirit of the wilderness and protector of its creatures. She is prominent in Argyll folklore and in its landscape, from Ben Cruachan to Loch Awe, and the fierce whirlpool of Corryvreckan.
2017: Saturday 23 September (beginning at 5pm) to Friday 29 September (leaving after breakfast)
2018: Saturday 14 April (beginning at 5pm) to Friday 20 April (leaving after breakfast). This retreat is fully booked, but you may join the waiting list.
This retreat will be held on the Ardmaddy Estate, half an hour’s drive south of Oban, in a beautiful lochside location overlooking the Isle of Seil and beyond that, the Isle of Mull. The estate is dominated by Ardmaddy Castle, which was originally constructed as a medieval tower-house in the fifteenth century. We’ll be occupying two of the estate houses: Caddleton farmhouse, and the converted Stables. Ardmaddy is a tranquil wildlife haven, with eagles, deer and otters regularly visiting. The estate’s website is here: www.ardmaddycottages.co.uk. It looks like the far ends of the earth, but it’s easy enough to get to. If you’re coming by public transport, it’s a beautiful three-hour train ride through the spectacular western Highland landscape from Glasgow to the lovely small fishing town of Oban, and we can arrange transport from there.
Places are limited to 9 people, all in single rooms.
FOOD: Plentiful vegetarian food is provided, organic wherever possible (with some fish options for those who are comfortable eating it) and all participants are expected to work together on a rota basis to create evening meals (ingredients supplied; full instructions and recipes given!) and clear dishes. We cannot cater for heavily restricted diets, but if you have specific requirements then you are welcome to cook for yourself separately. Vegan and wheat-free diets can usually be easily accommodated. At lunch and breakfast, you help yourself from the pantry.
The cost per person, including tuition as well as food and accommodation for six nights, ranges from £925 to £975, depending on the room booked (see below). A deposit of £200 will be required on booking; the remainder will be due three months before each retreat begins.
Five of the bedrooms are in Caddleton farmhouse, where our retreat sessions will be held and where lunch and dinner will be taken. The house is beautifully situated, just 100 metres away from the shore of the loch. Two of these rooms are double en-suites, and the total cost for each of them is £975; the remaining three rooms contain twin beds (again, for single occupancy) with shared bathrooms and are charged at £949. One of these latter rooms is a large, bright attic room which happens to contain four beds but which is single-occupancy on this retreat. Four further bedrooms are in the Stables, a beautifully restored self-contained property complete with its own kitchen and living space, close to the farmhouse. There are two bathrooms in this house. There is one double room and two twins, each of which is charged at £949. A fourth room contains (full-size) bunk beds and is charged at £925.
REFUND POLICY: Although we recognise that life can change rapidly and that unexpected things might occur, we have a fairly strict refund policy. This is because of the accommodation and other costs that we are committed to once bookings are taken for a retreat, and also the costs and time required to re-advertise places which are booked and subsequently cancelled. And so, if you have to cancel up to three months before the retreat, then if another booking can be found, your deposit will be refunded less a cancellation fee of £100. If you cancel between three months and a month before the retreat and another booking can be found, your deposit will be forfeit but you won’t be liable for the rest of the payment. If you cancel within a month, no refunds can be given. We recommend that you take out travel insurance where possible to minimise your risk if the unexpected happens.
HOW TO BOOK: These retreats usually fill up well in advance, and participants travel from all over the world — America, Canada, Australia, Europe — so please book early if you are able. Because by design my retreats are intimate, and intensive, when you contact me (please send me an email, or use the contact form on the ‘contact’ page of this site) to enquire about booking a place, please let me know a little bit about yourself, and what you hope to gain from the week. This isn’t a formal ‘application’ process — just a way of ensuring that all of those who sign up have a compatible set of expectations, and are committed to the work we’ll be doing together and to creating a gentle, nurturing and supportive sisterhood for the duration. Please be prepared to go outdoors (even if only for short periods) in all weathers; if you have an aversion to rain and wind, then a retreat on the west coast of Scotland focused on deepening our relationship with place might not be for you! And I hope you’ll understand that, due to the interest in these retreats, I’m unable to hold places without deposits.