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A Creative Retreat in Scotland with Gretchen Peters

Sept. 14-21, 2021 • Kincardine Castle • Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Limited to 15 Participants

This retreat has been filled.

Please Email Lydia if you’d like to be added to the cancellation list.

With Guest Songwriting Teacher: GRETCHEN PETERS

Castles, bagpipes, fiddles, songwriting, churches, whisky, dancing, kilts, royalty, singing, history … these are just a few of the delights waiting for our small group of creative spirits during our retreat in the beautiful Northeastern part of Scotland. Aberdeen City and Shire is a land where majestic landscapes meet the sea, is a part of the Royal Family’s life, and is home to cultural and historical gems.

Acclaimed songwriter and artist Gretchen Peters will be our guest teacher during the week, with morning songwriting classes, hands-on song crafting, and exercises to help open up your channels of inspiration. Plus lots of playing, singing, sharing and laughing!

Lydia Hutchinson knows how to throw a well-organized, world class educational songwriting experience in mystical and magical parts of the world! And all the participants were engaging, highly creative and fun for me to share this experience. One of the best gifts I’ve ever given to myself! —Joseph Leavell

Fiona_KennedyHelping to plan and sprinkle her own magic on our week is Scotland’s beloved Fiona Kennedy—singer, songwriter, actress, broadcaster, and shimmering soul of fun. Included in her many honors is a 2014 appointment as Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to music and charitable services in Scotland … so with her help the things we have planned for you are once-in-a-lifetime experiences!

If there is any part of you that hesitates regarding the cost or taking the time off from your busy life to attend one of these workshops, all I can say is that clicking ‘submit’ was the best gift I ever gave myself. And it continues to give, even months and years later. Having now attended two of Lydia’s workshops, I can share in full honesty that she creates and seamlessly orchestrates the kind of experiences that you hold in your cell-memory; in your bones. The kind of moments where you realize why you are here, that you are capable of more joy and growth than you thought possible, that the world is still full of spectacular beauty and that you, your voice and your songs are worthy and deserving. —Jane Kramer

paul-anderson-fiddleJoining us throughout the week will be the phenomenal fiddler, Scotland’s Paul Anderson. Paul is known as the finest Scots fiddler of his generation and already an icon in his country. He has composed over 450 tunes in the traditional Scottish idiom, performs around the world, teaches … and is one of the greatest guys you’ll ever meet. He and his wife, the celebrated singer Shona Anderson, will sprinkle their magic over our week.

Lydia finds extraordinary, magical places from which to host workshops. The journey through the week was luscious, thoroughly creative, progressive. Life-changing discoveries seemed to come in waves, through the days. —Janie Barnett

Andew_NickyOur group of 15 will be staying at one of Scotland’s finest Victorian Castles, Kincardine, on a 3,000 acre estate overlooking the spectacular Royal Deeside in Aberdeenshire. Joining us in our activities and dining experiences will be the owners, Andrew and Nicky Bradford, who will add historical tales and a traditional song or two to the adventure. (Also of note, Nicky is an accomplished pianist, and one of only a handful of fully qualified Suzuki Method piano teachers in Scotland.)

So if you’ve ever dreamed of visiting Scotland with a group of like-minded creative spirits, join us for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. And as I tell everyone joining us for Performing Songwriter Creative Workshops: Set aside all of your expectations and show up cracked open and ready for whatever’s to come. The stage will then be set for the universe to work its magic and change your life in ways you didn’t even know you needed.


More Performing Songwriter Creative Workshop Testimonials Can Be Found HERE.

Any questions, email Lydia Hutchinson.

This retreat has been filled.

All-Inclusive Week of Music, Food & Friends • Limit 15 People

The Experience

As a small group of 15 people, we will stay at the magnificent Victorian Kincardine Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland’s breathtaking northeastern countryside just 35 minutes from Aberdeen. It is a grand family home and 3,000 acre estate on a hillside overlooking Royal Deeside and the hills of the Cairngorms National Park. You will enjoy gorgeous gardens and world-class hospitality from Andrew and Nicky Bradford, their team including a full-time chef, and delicious food and superb wines. When staying at Kincardine Castle you quickly realize it’s not like a nice hotel; it’s far more special. Like staying in a grand country house with friends, in comfortable bedrooms each with its own bathroom.

Each morning there will be a delicious homemade breakfast cooked especially for us. Enjoying it together in the castle’s dining room is the perfect way to begin the day.

We will have songwriting workshops on four of the mornings, taught by the extraordinary songwriter Gretchen Peters. She will lead inspiring classes to help you tap into your creativity and fine-tune your songs.

We will have meals each night that are nothing short of events—opening night dinner, an evening with fresh fish brought in from Aberdeen, and a closing night gala—all complete with before-dinner drinks and visiting.

In addition, we will have outings planned by Scotland’s beloved Fiona Kennedy to countryside churches, castles, a pub with a gathering of local musicians including the world-renowned fiddler Paul Anderson, a traditional Ceilidh, a day in Royal Deeside and many more surprises!

There’ll be plenty of down time to wander the estate and gardens, work on your writing or other creative projects, play music and co-write, and enjoy local musicians. There will also be a free day where you can dream up what you’d like to do and we can help plan it: play golf, fish, or a guided tour of the area.

So the universe is ready to take the wheel for a week in the magical countryside of Scotland. Say yes and show up. And then let the music, history, culture and friendship begin to work its magic in your life.

Details and Price

Once you’ve arrived at Kincardine Castle, you will be completely taken care of. All of your meals are covered except for one day that you will have on your own to explore other areas or hang around the castle.

Here is a list of a few of the things that are included:

  • Transportation to Kincardine Castle from the Aberdeen airport—two shuttles will be scheduled on Tuesday Sept. 14 and two from the Castle to Aberdeen airport on Tuesday, Sept. 21. There is a train that is a bus ride away from the airport if you need to catch it to or from there if you’re traveling elsewhere.
  • 7 nights in a beautiful antique-furnished bedroom with its own bathroom at Kincardine Castle: Arrive Tuesday Afternoon Sept. 14, and leave Tuesday Morning Sept. 21.
  • Four mornings of songwriting classes with Gretchen Peters, and a one-on-one session with her during the week.
  • Hearty, homemade breakfasts each morning for the group, served in the dining room.
  • Light lunches of soups and sandwiches at the castle.
  • Five evenings of dinners and wine at the castle, prepared by their chef, including an opening night welcome extravaganza, closing night gala, a special night of fresh fish brought in from the coast, and before-dinner drinks each evening.
  • An afternoon in the countryside, visiting churches, small villages, and more.
  • A day in Royal Deeside, fiddle and bothy ballad night at the castle, a night at a local pub playing with Scottish musicians, a visit to Braemar with dinner and a musical event, just to name a few things planned …
  • A free day that we can help plan, including setting up a game of golf, fishing, or an afternoon in Aberdeen city with Fiona Kennedy.
  • Musical performances, dancing, cultural talks by guests…
  • … and many more surprises.

All-Inclusive Pricing Per Person (except for airfare):

  • $3,495 Double Occupancy Room With Private Bath (Available for 10 People) NOTE: You’ll need to have your roommate planned—we won’t be assigning people to room together.
  • $4,295 Single Occupancy Room With Private Bath (Available for 5 People)


  • $1000 Deposit (Plus $800 Single Room Supplement if Applicable) Upon Registration
  • [$2000 Total Deposit If You Register On or After Feb. 1, 2021]
  • Second Payment (If You Registered Before Feb. 1) of $1000 Invoiced and Due February 1, 2021
  • Third Payment of $1000 Invoiced and Due March 1, 2021
  • Balance of $495 Invoiced and Due April 1, 2021

Must be 21 Years or Older [or accompanied by parent or family member]

Cancellation Policy:

  • All payments and deposits are non-refundable if we are not able to fill the spot. If we are able to fill the spot, however, you will be refunded all but $500.

Any questions, email Lydia Hutchinson.

Registration and Deposit

Registration is on a first-come basis, as well as room availability for the breakdown of single and double occupancy. You are not confirmed until the deposit is received, and you receive a direct email from Lydia confirming it and addressing any questions. If you end up not being confirmed after your deposit is paid because of the event and rooms being filled, you will be immediately refunded in full.

  • NOTE: For double occupancy rooms (that have 2 single beds) you’ll need to have your roommate planned—we won’t be assigning people to room together.

This retreat has been filled.

Please Email Lydia if you’d like to be added to the cancellation list.

Testimonials from Previous Retreats to Scotland

Lydia created an incredible songwriter workshop in Aberdeen, Scotland that I had the privilege of attending in 2016 with my wife. From our arrival at the train station, to the bus ride to Kincardine Castle, being welcomed by Andie and Nicky, the entire event was incredible. Each day was filled with opportunities to build on songwriting skills and experience the friendship of existing and new friends. Wonderful surprises with musicians and travel were in store for us throughout, as well as time to reflect each day. Lydia is a very successful, caring, talented person who knows how to put together a tremendous Songwriter Creative Workshop. It is an adventure you want to experience wherever it takes you and your soul!
—Richard Weil, Takoma Park, MD

Lydia did not over promise when she said that this songwriting workshop in Scotland would be an EVENT! It was one surprise after another building to a crescendo on the our last evening. Every detail was thought out and perfectly executed with the right balance of songwriting and getting to experience Scotland traditions. From castles, churches, pub night to traditional Scottish folk dancing, it was a wild ride I’m glad I was on, trusting Lydia, our hosts Andie and Nicky and the wonderful history and fiddle playing from the great Paul Anderson topped off with the lovely yet strong Shona Anderson with her Bothy Ballads. What an experience shared with the group.
—Francine Leclair, Leamington, Ontario

My experience of the Performing Songwriter Creative Workshops\ Retreat to Scotland was the opportunity of a lifetime. To actually experience living in a Scottish castle; to commune with spirits in an ancient graveyard; to walk along the paths where Kings, Queens and poets once strolled; and to make music with some of the finest local Scottish musicians … all this and more. Tis a land of rich imaginings and creative inspiration. Our small band of songwriters came away with a wealth of information and tools for their songwriter’s toolbox. Much appreciation goes to Lydia Hutchinson … the creative designer of this once in a lifetime experience.
—Joseph Leavell, Addison, TX

I have been writing songs for 5 decades. Some of my best songs have emerged from Performing Songwriter Creative Workshops. Lydia does an outstanding job of selecting teachers and coaches who are skilled at helping participants draw upon their inner creativity and craft great songs. She blends the work of writing with enjoyable activities and opportunities for meaningful fellowship with fellow participants, making the workshops as memorable as they are productive. I can highly recommend these workshops to anyone interested in moving their songwriting capabilities to a new level.
—John Mulder, Grand Haven, MI

I had no idea I’d fall so in love with Scotland. Lydia created the perfect workshop trip to introduce us to this wonderful country. From the castle where we stayed to the side trips and interactions with the local folks/speakers she brought in, Lydia’s attention to detail offered us all a creative banquet with many wonderful courses. Put this workshop on your bucket list!
—Ellen Gennaro, Nashville, TN

This was an experience of a life time. It was the perfect environment to soak up all of the insightful teachings. With a fantastic group of people and a beautifully rich place, this retreat could not have been better!
—Madalen O’Regan, Ottowa, Ontario

I remain deeply grateful for one of the best weeks of my life. As a “spouse” I was included in every aspect of the week and I felt so privileged to tag along! Everyone was so kind, considerate, and great to spend time with.
—Sherri Weil, Takoma Park, MD

I don’t know how Lydia does what she does, but I am so happy that she does it. She provides the most excellent organization. I appreciate how smoothly it flows, It takes a lot of stress out of it and makes it easy to just play and create.
—Joy Newby, Nashville, TN

Attending this workshop in Scotland was a phenomenal experience. Its an immersion into the culture and its music that is unparalleled. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone.
— Suzanne Klimek, Waynesville, NC

The Performing Songwriter Scotland experience was the ONLY way to do Scotland!
— Steph Sammons, Dallas, TX

About Gretchen Peters:

Gretchen Peters has long been one of Nashville’s most beloved and respected artists, known never to shy away from darkness and struggle in her writing. “If Peters never delivers another tune as achingly beautiful as ‘On A Bus To St. Cloud,’” People Magazine wrote, “she has already earned herself a spot among country’s upper echelon of contemporary composers.”

The latest accolade for the Nashville-based singer-songwriter was her induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in October 2014. She joined the 192 existing inductees including Johnny Cash, Rodney Crowell, Don & Phil Everly, Woody Guthrie, Merle Haggard, Tom T. Hall, Harlan Howard, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Jimmy Webb and Hank Williams. At the induction ceremony in Nashville before a capacity audience, Rodney Crowell spoke on behalf of Peters, calling her “both a songwriter and a poet (who) sings as beautifully as she writes,” and said her song “The Matador,” “moved me so greatly, I cried from the soles of my feet.”

Peters has risen to the top of her craft by writing and recording songs that explore the deep corners of life with empathy and integrity. She has accumulated accolades as a songwriter for artists as diverse as Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, The Neville Brothers, Patty Loveless, George Strait, Bryan Adams and Faith Hill. Of her own recordings, the Associated Press said, “this is not jukebox music – the stuff that exists to fill in the pauses in conversation. This IS the conversation.”

Her 2018 release, Dancing With the Beast, has garnered praise around the globe:

“…songs that manage, with deft use of language, to cram a whole epic into three minutes. It’s astonishingly good writing.” – Pop Matters

“Beautifully defined and utterly compelling album.. Peters’ ability to give voice to believable characters is unbeatable.” – The Mirror (UK)

“Stunning” – Rolling Stone Country

“…an album of incredible humanity and depth.” – No Depression

“Right now, you would be hard-pressed to find a better songwriter than Gretchen Peters. Her willingness to sing about tough, somber subjects is a rarity in the industry, and on her new album, Dancing With The Beast, she continues to prove her mastery.” – The Shotgun Seat

“This new album, Dancing With The Beast, is her first recording of all new material since 2016’s ‘Blackbirds’, which won her an Americana Music Association UK award for International Album of the Year as well as International Song of the Year for the title track. This new album is every bit as good.” – Americana UK

“50 minutes of exquisite-sounding emotional devastation, depression, murder and heartbreak” – The Tennessean

“Peters proves yet again on Dancing with the Beast that she is today’s most vivid, detailed songwriter. She is uncanny at transforming simple thoughts or images into song.” – Glide Magazine

Dancing With The Beast is a strong reminder of the talents of a singer-songwriter who remains one of the brightest stars in country music.” 4 stars – RnR Magazine (UK)

“5 stars” – Country Music magazine (UK)

There’s a bittersweet beauty to the passing of time — the changes it brings are just as often heartbreaking as they are heartwarming. The inevitable tension that arises from that sway is Gretchen Peters’ most trusted muse. With melody supporting that melancholy, the songs on Peters’ new album, Dancing With The Beast, combine to lift the effort over the high artistic bar set by her last outing, 2015’s award-winning Blackbirds. Strung together and populated with strong and broken female heroines, those vignettes make up Dancing With The Beast and, indeed, Peters’ entire discography.

Dancing With The Beast puts female characters at the fore, from teenage girls to old women. And intentionally so. With the 2017 Women’s March and #MeToo Movement as bookends to her writing time, Peters knew that a feminist perspective would be the critical core of the record. She admits, “You can trace the feminist DNA in my songwriting back to ‘Independence Day’ and probably before. The thing that 2017 did is just put it front and center.”

Beauty tempered by dread, sorrow buoyed by hope, these are the ever-present tugs of war that make life worth living and songs worth writing. And they are the over-riding themes that make Gretchen Peters one of her generation’s most compelling singer/songwriters.