Still struggling to catch up with everything this week but thought I should try and write at least a few paragraphs about the Wild Writing Workshop I led at the Fort William Mountain Festival last Sunday!

The workshop started with a walk in Glen Nevis, which is, as its name suggests, at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. I did a recce of the walk on the Saturday, having travelled up from Cardiff by train (13 hours; 4 changes) on the previous day. I’d never been to this area of Scotland before and thoroughly enjoyed wandering alongside the frothing River Nevis (lined with birch trees, alders and the occasional holly tree), hopping over burns swollen with snow melt from the surrounding mountains and sussing out my workshop structure.

The weather for the workshop itself was a mix of sleet, hail, snow and rain but all ten participants were well togged up in multiple layers and waterproofs and perfectly willing to stay outdoors for two or more hours. They gamely wrote in increasingly soggy notebooks as I issued a series of prompts and suggested various place-inspired writing exercises, to be completed both individually and in pairs.

For the last hour of the workshop we dried out, warmed up and partook of lots of coffee and cake at the Ben Nevis Inn. Everyone started working on a more polished piece of writing based on all the notes they’d made, then shared their work with the whole group right at the end. It was wonderful to hear such a varied range of styles and genres – the beginning of a travel article, several poems, a comic monologue in the voice of a large lump of quartzite rock…

One of the workshop participants has already beaten me to it and blogged about the day – you can read her impressions of it here.

My visit to Fort William was so fleeting (travelled back down to Cardiff on Monday across the wild and snowy expanse of Rannoch Moor) that I had very little time to explore the surrounding area. Saw enough to know that I very much want to return, however, to do some more serious walking (and some writing of my own!)

6 responses to “Wild Writing in Fort William

  1. Daisy-W and Coastcard – your comments about walking/camping on Rannoch Moor have made me even keener to go back…

    Hope you’re not a cake-free zone for much longer, Mistlethrush!

    Thanks for reading, Michelle. Yes, just four days away has completely thrown my schedule out of whack – I still haven’t fully caught up with everything! I really enjoyed the train travel in the end – writing and reading with no distractions (except for making sure I got out at the right stations en route!)

  2. Susan, this sounds wonderful. I wish I could have been there (wrapped up warmly).

    Your photograph of the rushing white water is beautiful.

    Hope you’ve recovered fully from the train travelling. Isn’t it strange how going away for a weekend can skew your routine in terms of stuff to catch up with?

    Have a good Sunday.

  3. I admire your spirit. I think wild places can be very exhilarating – as long as you know that in an hour or two you can be drying out with a hot drink. (But not the cakes – I’m supposed to be on a diet!)

  4. I love Rannoch Moor, too. We did a great walk there on our honeymoon (in my pre-RA existence!). It always makes me think of John Buchan. Your photos are most evocative: I was quite surprised to find how much snow there was in Glencoe last June.

  5. Oh I love Rannoch Moor and Loch Rannoch, did some serious walking in the area years ago and think the sunrises and sunsets during a three week wild camping period cemented further my love of moor, mountain and singing burns. Twenty six hours by train is a lot of thought time:0)

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