Year 7’s Ridgeway Adventures
After a week of unprecedentedly dry and sunny weather; this year’s Scotland tour party returned wondering why there had been such fuss and bother about waterproofs and not more information on applying sunscreen and wearing a sun hat!
Due to a delayed flight, we didn’t arrive at Ridgeway until 3am and so had a slow start to our first day, rather than the normal hill walk and introduction talk before breakfast. The children quickly got into their first activities and all learned about lighting fires and what wild food could be found around our home for the week, and for the other half of the day were either sea kayaking or climbing.
The next evening it was off to Lone to camp by the shore of Loch Stack at the foot of Arkle, the mountain we were to climb the next day. The mountain day is a real challenge in terms of stamina and determination and, for some, overcoming a fear of heights as they walk along the ridge linking the two summits. To round the day off a number of the children made the most of the opportunity to swim in the loch beside the centre.
The next day was a repeat of the first full day but food and fire was replaced with shelter building, and so by the end of the day all had kayaked and climbed. The children also had the chance to head out on the loch to pull up lobster kernels and also see the rowing boat used by John Ridgway and Chay Blythe when they rowed across the Atlantic in 1966.
Wednesday had the children on the orienteering course and on the loch; this time on rafts that they had built ahead of a race. The object of the race was to rescue a member of staff stranded on the pontoon in the middle of the loch.
When not rafting the teams were rushing around the orienteering course trying to locate all the points to win a prize, but most importantly to earn food and shelter building materials for Survival Island that night which was the big challenge of the week. With further good weather they were quick to locate their supply dumps and start building shelters and lighting fires on which to cook their meagre supplies. All teams did well with their shelters and fires, whilst some found the food side of things trickier. When the children returned to base in the morning they were the least tired I can ever remember; a clear indication of a successful night “surviving”.
Our final full day at Ridgway was spent on the beach. Some took the opportunity to catch up on missed sleep, whilst others played touch rugby, beach cricket, volleyball or boogie boarded in the chilly Atlantic waters. The day finished with the final competition of the week - the tug of war.
It was time to head back to the centre to pack and prepare for our final tea: haggis, tatties and neeps! This was followed by a concert, picture slide show and game of “Wee Jock’s Hat”.
Well done to the 44 intrepid travellers, the four accompanying staff, Mrs Hamilton, Mrs Backhouse, Mr Holland and Mr Backhouse, and all at Ridgway, especially Rebecca and Mark; it was a great week and we look forward to doing it all again next year.