Sunday 25th May – After loading the minibuses with enough kit for an Arctic Expedition, we left North Berwick for the sunny climes of Fife. Our first port of call was the little-known “Gimme Shelter” campsite in the hamlet of Duloch, just North of Inverkeithing. The campsite promotes recycling to an unbelievable degree – the accommodation and toilet blocks around the camping areas have all been made from materials found on the land itself, and even the badger hide is constructed from recycled materials that have found their way onto the land.
Having shopped at Lidl for our meals until Monday night, we learned how to safely operate a trangia stove, made sure that we recycled or binned the things that we didn’t need afterwards and we were each responsible for our own tents. Despite a REALLY heavy rain shower upon arrival, we had a great night. Once the rain was off we made “smores” and got really engrossed in making loom band bracelets (some people seemed to be making necklaces for elephants rather than bracelets for young ladies, such was the length of them!).
On Monday, we set off for Newtonmore and the Active Outdoor centre. Our guides – Josh, Fraser and Rosie – took great care of us and made sure we were well-prepared for the day ahead. Our activities were, how should we put it?….AWESOME! From gorge walking to climbing, abseiling to hill-walking, biking to canoeing, we were on the go from 9am to 9pm and the weather was generally kind to us (well, it rained a bit, but not much).
At night we had a lounge area and were able to make hot chocolate in the kitchen and mull over the day’s activities. Some people really stood out this week for different reasons: Christy Barbour was wonderful at being wonderful! She cleaned, tidied, helped people and generally made sure everyone was safe. Michael Aylesbury did the same (ok, minus the cleaning part!), and was generally agreed to be the most kind person to everyone. Hamish Thomson was “Mr Style” and was never happier than when it was “shades weather”! Fraser Munro was keen to help, even when help wasn’t required! Eric Shen stole the show with his hilarious antics and generally happy-go-lucky demeanour. I have left most people out – the list and the fantastic individual qualities are too long to mention but everyone received an accolade for something that they had done that was, well, just so very them!
What really struck home, though, was the way that our group of people really got along. Throwing together so many different personalities, interests and attitudes on one trip is something that requires real staying power from those involved. It takes the fine qualities of consideration, good listening and a willingness to compromise to make a week like this successful. And, boy, was it successful! It’s funny – being outdoors are facing challenging activities has a magical way of bringing out the best in folk!
The final night showed what we are all about. Active Outdoors had organised a ceilidh that we shared with our partner school for the week, Cults’ Academy near Aberdeen. North Berwick High School turned the community hall into a wild shindig, making sure that we asked the other school to dance too and whirling, heuching and cheuching till we dropped in our roasting hot onesies! The band were very impressed by our dancing, and Mr Rutter (who had driven down to see us) was reminded of just what a great, fun school he had left behind.
Thank you, all, for being such a great group and for making our S3 Highland Adventure, once again, the best trip ever!