Peregrinatio: an island wilderness retreat

Scottish wilderness retreat in the Inner Hebrides
Dates: 4-6 June 2021
Retreat leader: Chris Goan
Activity: time out from activity; poetry; hiking; meditation; you may want to bring your sketchbook and paints
Location: a Hebridean island, Scotland (exact location tbc)

Peregrinatio – or ‘holy voyaging’- is a word that comes from the time of the Celtic missionary monks, who would set themselves adrift in a small boat, trusting to wind and tide to take them to the place of their becoming. We will follow in this adventurous tradition on this wilderness retreat led by Chris Goan in a deserted Hebridean island. The retreat, which includes poetry writing, offers real time out for recharging and refreshing artistic focus. 

Recommended in The Guardian as one of the best UK wellness retreats (find out more)

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These beautiful places take us backwards in time, closer to the elements and into our own history. Wildlife encounters with some of our iconic species are common (otters, sea eagles, seals, dolphins, to name a few). Inevitably this means some exposure to wind and weather, as shelter and accommodation (apart from the odd cave) will be tents. We will cook on stoves or open fires.

A chartered boat will take us to our island. Exactly which island will depend slightly on the weather, but each venue we use has a rich tradition of ancient pilgrimage so we will always be in good company.Wilderness retreat 9

To spend time in such a place can be a deeply spiritual experience, and above all, the retreat offers an opportunity to make your own peregrinatio. To this end, we will seek to divide our time into purposeful silence (when we spend time on our own) and community (when we enjoy each other’s company and share stories). You may want to bring your sketchbook and paints as well. In the evenings, we will share the sanctity of the fireside.

Our retreat host Chris Goan is a writer and poet who has been running workshops and retreats for many years. You can find out more on his profile page.

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What you need to know

There will be no ‘running water’, no ‘toilets’ and we may get wet and cold, but nevertheless this retreat is not just for outdoor nuts. In fact, we love to introduce people to these experiences for the first time. It can get very cold in the evenings when we sit in the open, but the rewards of place more than outweigh any discomfort.

There is no upper or lower age limit, although we will be establishing an environment of quiet and reflection, and some young people might find this challenging. A level of fitness is required – getting in and out of a boat, perhaps clambering over rocks, and carrying bags for a half mile or so – but you do not need to be super-fit.Sea eagle

We do not provide personal equipment nor catering. However, you will receive a kit list with recommendations for things to bring. If you don’t have your own camping equipment or it would be inconvenient to bring it in your baggage, we can help you arrange hire of the basics (tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag) and have them delivered to and picked up from our meeting location. As a guideline, the basic kit per person will cost around £80 to hire 3-7 June, plus a deposit of £75, which will be returned afterwards.

Although we follow in an ancient Christian tradition, this retreat is for anyone, of any faith, or none. We will neither presume, nor impose. What we can promise is to make space for your own encounters with the natural world and the beautiful beyond.

Chris has been leading retreats to small islands for almost twenty years, so is hugely experienced in working with mixed groups to create temporary wild communities. You will be in good hands.

Price & timings

This weekend retreat costs £575 per person and includes:

  • Return crossing by chartered boat
  • Support from two retreat leaders
  • Guided meditations
  • Poetry writing sessions
  • Detailed pre-travel information including kit list.

The departure and end location for the retreat is Easdale near Oban in Argyll. We meet at 9.30 am for 10 am departure on 4 June and return around 3 pm on 6 June. We will be happy to advise on transport options and arrange accommodation nearby before and after the retreat. A non-refundable deposit of £150 will secure your place on the retreat.

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