Retreat into the English Countryside

The Retreat into the English Countryside takes place August 14-16, 2023 at Lewtrenchard Manor in Devon, England.

Nestled in a secluded valley beneath Dartmoor’s wild tors, the atmospheric setting feels virtually untouched by time. It is a place where you can walk quiet paths into surrounding countryside and step away from time. Steeped in history, the Jacobean manor dates back to the early 1600s with gardens, water fountains, and leafy woods creating the perfect place for a relaxing time to learn about the craft of writing away from demands of modern life.

An enriching immersion for thirteen people, this retreat is led by master teacher and New York Times best-selling writer Kathryn Aalto. It is espoke and high-value, introducing people to the fastest-growing genre in publishing — creative nonfiction — with a focus on the classic yet contemporary gem, the personal essay, a versatile form adaptable to everything from blogs and podcasts to standalone pieces and chapters in a book. 

Kathryn’s educational writing programmes in the UK and US have called ‘transformative’ by people around the world. From masterclasses to to writing courses to retreats, her lively and emphatic style adds great value to the lives of people seeking to enhance their lives through the arts.

The retreat is ideal for people who wish to grow as writers of creative nonfiction. Perhaps you would like to learn more about memoir, nature writing, travel writing, and food writing. This retreat will immerse you in techniques writers use to make their essays come alive no matter your interests in magazines, personal letters, blogs, podcasts, op-ed pieces, public speaking, and more. While the formal essay is a three-piece suit, the personal essay is a pair of gently-worn jeans: informal, subjective, and influential, they can feel like a ramble through a meadow with a friend. 

The writing retreat flows between lectures, discussions, and workshops with time for quiet reflective writing in the gardens and woods and atmospheric nooks of Lewtrenchard Manor. Lectures focus on writing techniques, discussions are centered on essays read in advance, and workshops invite people to practice new techniques. With clear step-by-step instructions Kathryn also teaches writing stages: pre-writing, writing, revision, editing, and more.

The Retreat into the English Countryside offers a place faraway from the crowds to discover your own creative processes, learn concrete skills, and connect with a vital writing community. Whether your aim is publication or personal enrichment, this experience will have a lasting impact on your creative life.

Contact Kathryn at with any questions.


  • Learn how to write beautiful personal essays and creative nonfiction
  • Explore different levels of intimacy, honesty, and confession in your writing
  • Learn traits of creative nonfiction including the importance of show not tell
  • Learn how to read like a writer
  • Become comfortable writing in the first-person
  • Make essay writing a mindful creative process


  • Bed and breakfast for two nights
  • Lunch buffets on Saturday and Sunday
  • Tea, coffee, and biscuits in the garden
  • Three-course dinners and canapes Friday and Saturday
  • Half a bottle of wine each evening
  • Time and space to write
  • Writing exercises to take home
  • 1:1 post-retreat mentoring session


Tuition for the retreat is £595. Register below. Accommodation is separate given the nature of room pricing. Reserve your room by contacting Vicky at

Learn more: Lewtrenchard Manor a Luxury Country House Hotel in Devon. Contact Kathryn at with any questions.


Kathryn Aalto is a passionate practitioner and teacher of narrative nonfiction. Her teaching philosophy is focused on encouraging a uniquely personal exploration of narrative nonfiction. At its core, she believes teaching is about responding to each student, whether they are an emerging writer or writing beyond the level of content mastery. She cultivates a mindful and supportive learning environment that fosters personal expression, critical thinking, and individual artistic growth in the literary arts.

For more than twenty-five years, she has taught writing and literature courses at colleges and universities including Western Washington University, Everett Community College, and Plymouth University and has given guest lectures at Cambridge University, Vanderbilt University, Cornell University, and more. She has a global mentoring practice, guides students in a vibrant online writing school, and leads in-person retreats, courses, and workshops in the United States and United Kingdom. She is a judge for The Nature Chronicles Prize, an international bi-annual award for nature writing in the English language. She is represented by Peter McGuigan at Ultra Literary in New York City. As a public speaker, she has given hundreds of talks at distinguished speakers’ series and is represented by Chartwell Speakers in New York City.  Kathryn endeavours to bring all these skills into classes to benefit her students.


“Kathryn is an inspiring writer and gifted teacher of narrative non-fiction. She creates a warm and inviting atmosphere in the virtual classroom, even as she encourages writers to pursue their craft with rigour and tenacity. The classes pivot from instructor-led teaching to student-centred learning, with a dynamic range of activities, including lectures, discussions of craft/technique in assigned readings, writing prompts, workshops, Q&A sessions with published authors, industry insights and more. Aspiring writers receive detailed and actionable feedback, whether to build on existing skills or experiment with fresh approaches to craft. Beyond the classroom, Katy is happy to answer any questions, suggest further readings and encourage writers to publish.” Wendy, Maidenhead, England

“Kathryn Aalto is an exceptional teacher. As a best-selling author, she knows the publishing industry first-hand. And she is highly adept at refining one’s technical skills without stifling a writer’s voice. I love the combination of rigor and nurturing she provides. Without her mentoring, I would still be stumbling in the dark along my path to publication. Her guidance, support and knowledge are game changers. I cannot recommend her enough!”Lise, Los Angeles, California

“Kathryn possesses a rare talent to hold a learning space in such a way each participant is supported while doing the hard work of being vulnerable. She extends an invitation to share space together in a small circle across time and distance as writers gather from around the world in a digital classroom with warmth and grace.  As a new writer, I felt unsure and intimidated. Was I ready? Did I have anything interesting to say?  Kathryn dispelled my fears, welcomed me and never stopped encouraging me to stretch just a little further. She weaves and layers lectures, writing prompts with workshopping along with insightful feedback (often with sketches!) for every session. Kathryn is attentive to the temperament of each class, pausing a little longer here, waving a brief hello to something over there. I rave about these classes! Not only for how each has helped me to learn the craft of writing but for how she has helped me discover my voice. Quite honestly, growing as a writer has profoundly affected my relationships. Deepening my relationship to self, to loved ones and the world I habit. What a joy!”  — Beth Anne, New Jersey



Monday, August 14

4 PM Check-in

6 PM Cocktail Welcome

7 PM Dinner and Dessert in The Oak Room

Tuesday, August 15

8-9 AM Breakfast

9-11 AM The Art of the Personal Essay and Memoir

11-11:30 Coffee, tea, and a walk

11:30 AM-1 PM Show, Not Tell: The Importance of Scene Creation in Narrative Nonfiction

1 PM Lunch

2-4 PM The Personal as the Universal: Discussion of creative nonfiction techniques in assigned reading

4 PM Relax and unwind

6:30 PM Cocktails

7 PM Dinner and dessert

8 PM Evening Speaker

Wednesday, August 16

8-9 AM Breakfast

9 -11 AM Traits of the Best Memoir

11-11:30 Coffee and tea

11:30 AM-1 PM Finding Your Voice

1-2 PM Lunch in The Oak Room

2-4 PM Creating an Intentional Writing Practice: Ways to Organise and Curate Your Writing Life

4:30 PM Farewells

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