It's hard to think of a better location for my 2019 writing course than south-west Spain's Extremadura.
About twice the size of Wales, the area holds some of the richest landscapes in the country - a blend of ancient agriculture, kaleidoscopic natural beauty and wildlife diversity. Its steppes and unique oak parklands, known as dehesas, extend to the far horizon and have a history stretching back well before the Romans. They consitute a wonderful cultural landscape in their own right, but they are home to some of the highest levels of natural abundance in Europe
Yet there will still be snow on the Gredos Mountains and the massive winter flocks of cranes will be feeding in the rice fields, offering us a chance to see one of the continent's most dramatic natural spectacles. Over the week we will be immersed in all that this glorious region has to offer. We will carefully explore how nature works, but also examine ways to express our encounters in words and images. It is a holiday for beginners wishing to develop new skills, right through to established writers looking to hone their work or to discover new approaches. Nature writing has never been more popular yet an ability to evoke mood, atmsophere, place and natural setting are part of the very foundations of writing, whether in memoir, fiction or poetry. The exercises and tutorials are designed to enrich all kinds of written expression that draw specifically on our natural surroundings.
(see page 2: click Talks & Teaching and go to 2nd line in drop-down menu).
© Mark Cocker 2016
A Nature Writing Course
Sun 27 Oct – Sat 2 Nov 2019
'Recreating Extremadura' involves two full-day excursions that book-end the three-day writing programme. During our outings into the surrounding countryside we will experience a wide range of landscape types as well as much of the wonderful wildlife for which the region is famous: its oak wood pasture, the river valleys including the Tajo, Iberia's longest river system, the extraordinary Henry-Moore–like granite monoliths around Trujillo and the extensive grassland plains. In late autumn the days are warm, so vultures and eagles are riding the thermals at Monfragüe NP. Yet a major plus at this time is the 'second-spring' effect triggered by the autumn rains, which returns the seared vegetation of summer to green and even encourages plants to re-flower. The autumn colours are strong and wood smoke rises everywhere in the landscape as the farm workers prune and burn off cuttings from the groves of olives and live oaks.
Our excursions supply us with a fund of encounters which we can use and explore during the indoor sessions. These are based at the Kelsey's family-run finca Casa Rural el Recuerdo. It has six double rooms and our intended group size is 6-8 participants.
You can find out more about the course at
For more information on the course click
For more information about Casa Rural go to drop down menu for page 'Extremadura Course details'.
Prices and Arrangements
Single: £1395 Shared: £1220 Dates: Sun 27 Oct - Sat 2 Nov 2019
Our participants said:
"A transformative experience and the wildlife was stunning."
"There couldn't be a better guide than Martin, not just for intimate knowledge of the best places ... but also for an immense fund of erudition, always modestly delivered. I feel my writing has taken a step forward thanks to Mark's wonderfully put-together course and encouragement."
" What I enjoyed most was the combination of living in a beautiful rural landscape for a week and going out and scrutinising it for what was actually in it, with expert guidance from you and Martin. I hope it will bring new depth and honesty to my own writing that gets beyond the superficial beauty of a landscape."