Ash to Ashes: Listen to the Wisdom Trees

Exploring life, death, and writing with exciting tutors and thinkers


Monday 3 – Friday 7 October 2022 


Duncan Passmore, Nick Hayes, Anna Selby, plus contributions from other guest speakers


Dartington Trust, South Devon


Residential: £795.00* | Non Residential: £595 | Deposit: £150**

Short Course bursaries are available – find out more here.

*Residential course fees include all vegetarian meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions and includes private, simple accommodation with shared bathroom from supper on the day of your arrival through until the lunchtime before your departure. More info about accommodation can be found below.

**Place a deposit to secure either a residential or non-residential place, with the outstanding balance payable six weeks before the course start date.

About this course

Explore life, death, and writing with these exciting tutors and thinkers on this forest-centred creative course. 

This five-day residential course is suitable for both new and experienced writers, and aims to help you find techniques to thoroughly immerse yourself in your subject, and create authentic and personal writing.

We will spend half of the week in the forest and the other half writing and learning in medieval rooms at Dartington Trust. You will be introduced to international writers – from ancient Irish and wilderness poets, to contemporary nature and environmental writers. You will learn techniques for writing as well as practical guidance on tuning in and quietening the mind when sitting in the forest.

Dusk and dawn have always been magical times of day and night, when the usual reliability of our daytime vision is brought into question. The forest is the most ancient of places, within which our evolution as a species is entirely entangled.

We will be sharing our written work as a wider attempt at learning through empathy: how the door of grief can be a bridge between humans and the wider world.

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir

guest contributors include:

Sylvia Linsteadt – Writer
Stephen Jenkinson – Culture activist, teacher, author
Andreas Kornevall – Storyteller, ecologist, writer

full course information and structure

on this course you will:

 – Learn techniques and skills to facilitate a connection with nature.
– Using raw materials, begin the process of writing about your experiences out in the woods.
– Sit with our trees at dawn and dusk, while in between these times sharing stories, hearing poems and taking part in writing exercises.
– Gain inspiration and fresh perspectives from online guest speakers.

Over the week you will have the opportunity to discuss your work with Duncan, Anna and Nick and devise an achievable goal for developing a direction for your work on the course and potentially beyond it.

First, at dawn and dusk sessions we will give you some basic writing techniques to get started on your expressive journey with your chosen tree. Duncan will contextualise the course itself, followed by an online appearance by guest writers.

Anna will continue working with you by giving some shining examples of nature poetry and writing. Nick will give a talk on the land rights movement and just how important this is in the work we are undertaking for the week. After lunch we will hear from Andreas – a renowned scholar of the Norse Myths – he will tell us stories of Ygdrassil the famous “World Tree” of Norse culture.

The morning sessions with Anna continue to bring shape and body to your written pieces as we near the end of the week and the final presentation of offerings back to the trees themselves. Anna, Duncan and Nick will hold a conversation about the centrality of trees in each of their lives and work, followed by questions from participants.


Anna Selby

Anna Selby

Anna Selby is a poet and naturalist. Her poetry often explores our connection with water and the natural world. She works collaboratively with dancers, choreographers and conservationists, writes poetic-studies of different species in the field, directly from life, often underwater, and aims for these poems to share a sense of compassion and attentiveness to the environment.

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duncan passmore

Duncan grew up in the densely wooded county of East Sussex where he was free to roam from an early age. He has been working with wood for over twenty years and has a pathological tendency toward the curious.

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Nick Hayes

Nick Hayes

Nick is an author, illustrator, print-maker, political cartoonist and insightful writer. Add to these talents his sensitivity to the ways of the natural world and a knowledge of the history of the land, and you will start to understand the rich ingredients that came together to produce his celebrated 2020 publication, The Book of Trespass.

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We recommend that if possible, you stay on-site during your course. All our courses are best experienced holistically: through working, relaxing, eating and staying with other course participants and tutors.

The residential course fee is based on staying in one of our hostel-style single rooms with shared facilities and easy access to the wider estate, the White Hart and the spaces in which you will be learning. They are the perfect base to rest your head, relax and recharge. You can find out more about the rooms here.

Breakfast and dinner each day – made with fresh, locally-sourced produce by our award-winning team – are included: one less thing to worry about during your stay.

Choose this option by selecting ‘residential’ at checkout (head to ‘Book now’, below).

the fine print
– Hostel-style accommodation is available at a discounted rate for course attendees. Please choose a ‘Residential’ ticket type to secure your room.
– Check-in for all rooms is from 3pm on the day of arrival.
– There will either be free time during the afternoon or the evening, however please note some sessions may finish at 9.30pm (please contact the if you have questions about the timings of the course)
– Lunch is generally between 1-2pm each day and evening meal between 6.30-7.30pm.
– Check-out for all departures is 11am on the day of departure (if travelling by public transport, luggage can be left at the Welcome Centre)
optional: upgrade to a courtyard room

It is also possible, subject to availability, to upgrade your accommodation to a single or double en-suite bedroom in our beautiful and historic courtyard. An upgrade to a single room with en-suite bathroom is an additional £25 per night and a double room with en-suite bathroom is an additional £40 per night.

If you would like to upgrade, please first book with residential option included, and then contact our Guest Services team on 01803 847101 or email to check availability. Our Guest Services department is open daily, 8am–8pm.

Upgraded accommodation is booked on a first come, first served basis only.

Book now

We are proud to be COVID-secure. Find out what we're doing to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience here >

Select a time below to begin your online booking. You will receive an e-ticket for this event. You are welcome to email us at with any queries you have. Full Short Course T&Cs can be found here >

If you place a deposit, you will be contacted by us six weeks before the course start date to pay the outstanding balance. You will also be contacted with full details about the course before you arrive.

Please note that bookings for all our Short Courses close at midday on the Thursday before the course begins. This enables us to give you the best possible course experience and ensures all bookers receive the relevant course materials before they arrive.

Offer: Special rate for Dartington Members

Dartington Members will receive a 10% discount, applied when they log in during the checkout process. For more information about Membership, click here (opens in new tab).

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