FEATURE THE GREAT OUTDOORS
:— Towing the line
SCOTTISH SPORTS COUNCII/DIZNIS STRAUGIIAN
Water-skiing isn‘t difﬁcult. That's the basic message from Allan Wilson. development ofﬁcer for the Scottish Water-Skiing Association, who says he‘s only failed to teach two people in the last couple ofyears. And they were petriﬁed of water to start with. Within ten minutes you should be up and skiing, clinging onto a rigid pole stuck out at right angles to the boat. Within halfan hour you‘ll be towed along on the end ofthe line pretending you’re in a Bacardi ad. It's that easy. From there on, the objective is to move from two skis to one. or even to none. ‘Bare- footing is very exhilarating,‘ says Wilson. ‘It's the ultimate buzz because there’s nothing between you and the water.‘ Or ifyou don‘t fancy bare- footing. there’s slalom, jumps and the ultimate poseur's past-time, tn'ck water- skiing. Could you hold a tow rope with your feet? (Eddie Gibb)
A ski -lesson at the national water-ski centre in Dunfermline costs f 9. 25 or £55 for a full day. Details on 0383 620/ 23. Clubs are likely to be a bit cheaper. The West omet/and WSC. 04/ 943 0345, operates on Loch Lomond. The Queensferry WSC. 03/ 33/ 4 I 38. meets at the Hawes Pier on the Fort/t.
_ On a wave
The water towered up in front of the inflatable. a standing wave in the river‘s deepest point which threatened to swamp the craft and forced involuntary screams from the mouths of all on board. Just seconds before we had been slipping quietly along the Tay. wondering where the thrills were going to come from.
Whitewater rafting has the image of unremitting thrills. one delicious adrenaline rush as you bounce from one rocky rapid to the next. so the initial entry into the river seemed rather tatne. Here were the eight of us. bobbing about in the sun. dressed for the worst eventualities in wet suits. buoyancy aids and colour co-ordinated helmets as the river swept majestically past and the fly-ﬁshermen looked on in bemusement. Whitewater? Brown. more like!
There are four ways you can go in a raft — forward. back. left and right — all of which require a degree ofco- ordination among the paddlers. We invented a ﬁfth technique which involved going round in circles. This lack ofcontrol doesn’t exactly inspire conﬁdence once you realise that those
gently burbling eddies from above are in fact whirlpools set to rival the great Corryvreckan once you enter their ambit.
‘It‘s not the most aggressive of rivers.‘ admits our guide Tim Fuke. ‘The Tay is like going fora walk in the park as opposed to climbing Ben Nevis in a T- shirt.‘ says Fuke. ‘The ()rchy is a very technical and hard river. more suited to canoes than rafts.‘ Not that the Tay is without thrills. particularly if you‘re brave enough to face it in full spate during the winter. Like a good roller—
coaster. the raft ride lets you relax into its own unique tranquillity fora while before spitting you out into the turbulent rapids fora tension-releasing gasp ofexcitement. (Thom Dibdin) Whitewater Rafting costsft'otn [/2 to £20 for a Ital/day. Most people go in groups but you nag/1t be able to hitch a ride on busy days. Depending on the speed of the ﬂow. the actual trip lakes l)(’lll‘(’(’ll one and two hours. Contact: Splash: 0738 787430; ('ro/t-na-(‘a/ntr ()887 830236; White Water Adventures: ()24 I 828940.
_ Free-ﬂoating suspension
“I’m not normally the kind of person who leaps out of an aeroplane, but paragliding ls completely different. There’s a real sense of euphoria and freedom when you take off and start flying above the fields,’ says linda Young. She recently went on a ‘Fun an’ course at the Cloudbusters Paragliding Centre and was ‘desperate’ to get up in the air after the initial training.
Paragliding, a younger brother of hang-gliding which requires more training, has attracted a lot of followers in the last few years. It offers the exhilaration of parachuting without the naked tear of freefalling
before the ’chute opens; you cut
straight to the floating about stage. Even so, it is defined as a ‘risk sport’ and before you can think about a solo flight, you have to tackle the finer points of ‘ground handling’.
Having donned the inflatable canopy,
you actually spend a large part of the day earthbound, progressing up hills, going over launch and manoeuvring techniques and working out how to land. The canopy itself is a cunning design based on the aerodynamics of a bird’s wings. the specially layered material allows you to make use of ‘ridge lifts’ and ‘therrnals’ when taking off, and it is so subtly rigged that you often don’t even need to launch yourself from a hill or build up speed for lift-off. It’s all a far cry from the days of people flapping pitifully off pier ends.
Once aloft, you glide gently on the air-currents, guiding the canopy by turning in different directions. there is no irritating engine noise to spoil the peace, with plenty of time to admire the view. (Ruth Thomas)
‘Fun Day’ courses are available for £50 at Parapente Ecosse, Edinburgh, O31 445 4995 and Cloudbusters Paragliding Centre, Glasgow, 041 634 6688.
I Compass Ski and Outdoor Centre Blairgowrie. Perthshire. 0250 885209. Open all year. Facilities: alpine and Nordic skiing. canoeing. archery. orienteering. rock climbing. hillwalking and abseiling. Individual bookings are accepted for specialist courses but groups of two upwards tend to be the norm. Costs from £55 per person for a weekend including equipment hire. instruction. accommodation and board.
I Croft-Ila-Caber Kenmore. Perthshire. 0887 830588. Open all year. Facilities: sailing. windsurﬁng. canoeing. river rafting. powerboating. waterskiing. parascending. cruises. jetboat trips. boat
P hire. clay pigeon shooting. archery. all- terrain vehicles and jet bikes. Individuals catered for. Costs £42 for a full day of watersports equipment hire and instruction.
I Cumbrae Largs. Ayrshire. 0475 674666. ()pen March to October. Facilities: dinghy sailing. west coast cruising. windsurﬁng.
powerboating. sea canoeing. sub aqua and catamaran sailing. Individuals catered for. Course prices on application. This is the Scottish Sports Council‘s national watersports centre with chalet accommodation and self-catering facilities. It offers specially-tailored courses for groups.
I Oounans Outdoor Centre Aberfoyle. 0877 38229]. Open all year apart from two weeks over Christmas. Facilities: abseiling. canoeing. orienteering. assault course. raft building. aerial slide. tree climbing and crate climbing. Groups of eight upwards. Costs £35 per person for a weekend of accommodation and board plus £5 per session of activities.
I East lieuk Outdoor Centre Anstruther. Fife, 0333 311929. Open April to October. Facilities: abseiling. climbing. mountain biking. orienteering. sea and river canoeing. archery and special activities. Costs £16 a day for instruction and equipment hire.
, I Claisnock Outdoor Education Centre
Cumnock. Ayrshire. 0290 420432. Open all year. Facilities: canoeing. orienteering. hillwalking. Nordic skiing and archery. Also specialise in wildlife and environmental studies. Individuals catered for. Costs from £70 for a weekend of canoeing with instruction and equipment hire with B 8; B at a local hotel. Dormitory accommodation available on site.
I Clenmore lodge Aviemore. lnverness- shire. 047‘) 86I276. Open all year. Facilities: rock climbing. canoeing. kayaking. hillwalking. mountaineering and alpine skiing. Individuals catered for. Prices on application. This is the Scottish Sports Council‘s national centre for mountain sports which has recently expanded. It offers self-catering accommtxlation for people who want to use Glenmore facilites but are not taking part in organised courses.
I Highland Adventure near Alyth. Perthshire. 0575 582238. Open all year. Facilities: Nordic and alpine skiing. dry
ski track. canoeing. quad biking. hillwalking. abseiling. orienteering. air rifle shooting and cycling. Individuals catered for. Costs £65.50 for a weekend including accommodation and activities.
14 The List 20 May—2 June I994