residential courses in Scotland



A separate building (another old coach house on the other side of the main house) is available for our guests and has table tennis, table football, a small air hockey table and can be transformed into a cinema, for enjoying the woodburner, wine and popcorn.

 Groups booking the whole Coach House building have exclusive use of this building. Where one side of the Coach House (East or West Wing) is booked, this facility is shared with anyone renting the other side, which often adds to the fun.

The games room has a shower room and a small kitchen.


The Coach House and games room/studio can be hired by anyone wishing to run their own courses and is available for small conferences, seating up to 25 people comfortably.There is a projector and screen for presentations. There are regular residential painting courses and yoga retreats . We run writing courses at Durhamhill. The tutors are two well-known local writers, Margaret Elphinstone and Mary Smith.


RESIDENTIAL WRITING COURSES  - scroll down page for information about these courses, the tutors and testimonials.

Accommodation is in the Coach House and also in the main house (we have pet cats in the main house, so not suitable for people with allergies to them). To allow continued discussion and fun at the end of the day, everyone eats meals together at the huge oak table in the Coach House and is welcome to use the studio as a games room/mini cinema.


We generally invite guests to arrive during the evening preceding the course, to be ready for the start of the course the following morning. We can arrange transport to and from Dumfries or Lockerbie Stations or Springholm/Castle Douglas bus stops.


Non-participating partners are welcome to stay, and share meals, for a reduced fee. Galloway is fantastic for walking, climbing, watching wildlife and fishing, and the stunning beaches and coves of the Solway are within 12 miles of the Coach House. The 7 stanes mountain bike trails are close by, as are many golf-courses.


When the weather is good, the courses can be conducted outside the house and studio, in the inspirational  surrounding countryside, perhaps at the giant stone circle seating area with views to the hills, or in the sunny, but more sheltered, orchard. For total tranquility (other than attention from inquisitive llamas) there is a bench beneath the beach trees at the top of the field.


For course participants wishing for a distraction in the evenings, we offer motorbike sidecar adventures in the hills, exploration of the countryside, perhaps part of the Henry Moore Statue Trail, and llama feeding.


We limit the number of participants attending each course to a level which allows plenty of individual attention from the tutors.


In the unlikely event of any courses being under-subscribed we reserve the right to cancel a course and refund fees. This is highly unlikely as there is a waiting list of local people who are keen to attend on a non-residential basis. Anyone wishing to be put onto this list is very welcome to contact us. They will be notified of the availability of a place within 10 days of the course start date.

Writing Courses

Margaret Elphinstone and Mary Smith

Writing Courses: 10-12 March 2020, with participants invited to arrive on the evening of Monday, 18 November

Fee £350 (includes 2/3 nights 4 star accommodation and food). Surcharge £100 to guarantee single-occupancy room. Discount for couples (sharing en-suite double room) £50. Fee for non-participating partner to stay £100.

Fee Includes meals and tea/coffee etc, also 2/3 nights accommodation in 4 star accommodation.

Limited number of places available for non-residents. Fee £250 including food.

Early booking recommended.

Following the popularity and success of our writing courses with the two well-known local writers, Margaret Elphinstone and Mary Smith, over the past four years, we are delighted to offer more courses for 2020.


Whether you are starting out as a writer or seeking to enhance your skills, this is the opportunity to discover your writing potential. The tutors are well-established and widely-published writers with a wealth of teaching experience who will support & encourage you in developing your writing. Workshop topics include the creation of character & plot, the role of the narrative voice & writing from personal experience. There will be ample opportunity to discuss your work with the tutors & fellow students, and participants are welcome to bring work for perusal and one-to-one discussion by a tutor.


The tutors both attend throughout the course and the number of participants is limited to allow plenty of individual attention.


Margaret Elphinstone, a historical novelist, had her first novel published in 1987. Her novel, 'The Sea Road’ is in 'The 100 Best Scottish Books of all Time' produced by 'List Magazine'. She also writes poetry & short stories & is an Emeritus Professor of Strathclyde University & was a visiting Professor at central Michigan University in 1998 & 2001. She was an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies. She has taught creative writing to all levels of experience & has been a regular tutor on international Arvon


Mary Smith is a writer, poet & journalist, her poems being widely published. A full collection, 'Thousands Pass Here Every Day', was published in 2012. Her novel, 'No More Mulberries', is set in Afghanistan where she worked for several years. 'Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Woman', a lively account of her time there, provides an insight into the lives of Afghan women. She was senior reporter on a local paper, & staff features writer with the award-winning magazine, 'Dumfries and Galloway Life'. She has an MLitt in Creative Writing & has taught the subject at Glasgow

Testimonials from past participants:


  • Superb tuition, lovely group with widely divergent experience, beautiful and Comfortable surroundings' Frances H
  • A beautiful location, very welcoming hosts and just the right amount of challenge and reassurance' Cate M
  • Valuable, intense, worthwhile' Ian B.
  • Neither intimidating nor too formal, instantly absorbing. Una C.
  • We all came away better writers. Roger W


Course fee £350,  includes. 2/3 nights stay in the 4 star Coach House, or the main house, & food -  guests welcome to arrive from the preceding (Monday) evening.


Surcharge to guarantee single-occupancy room -  £100.


Discount for couples (sharing e/s room with double bed) - £50.


Limited number of places available for non-residents. Fee £250 including food.





Andy Buchanan

PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE - Date to be arranged

We are offering three day residential photographic course, located in th beautiful countryside of south west Scotland.


Your guide, expert, and fully qualified photographer is Andrew Buchanan, who has a depth of knowledge of his subject, from film to digital, and an intimate love and feel for the surrounding countryside. He will gently guide you through any technical problems with your camera, and reveal some of the tricks of the trade.


During your visit to Dumfries and Galloway we aim to explore and photograph some unique and varied locations in the area. We will then spend time, using Photoshop, processing your images, and, if required, we have the facility to print high quality images up to A2 size.


In Scotland we can't guarantee the weather, so if the Gods are against us, we can retire t the studio, where Andy will show you some of the intriguing aspects of studio lighting, to ceate stunning portraits and fascinating still life.



Aims of the course


  • To help you master your camera,
  • To help you understand light and composition.
  • To help you master photographic editing, from camera to printing.
  • And to have a enjoyable and meaningful holiday.




Residential course fee £350.


Fee includes 2/3 nights stay in the 4 star Coachhouse and meals, tea, coffee etc. (participants welcome to arrive on the preceding Monday evening).


Discount for couples £50, discount for group bookings.


Price for non-participating partner £100, surcharge to guarantee single-occupancy room - £100


.(no more than 2 people in shared rooms).

Number of participants limited to maximum of 10.








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