Super firry animal

Learn'ngt e ropes u

Getting out of the urban jungle to explore Scotland’s real

Wilderness. Words: Louisa Pearson

ll those years of living and working in

the big smoke had left tne with a sallow

complexion. a saggy ass and a strained relationship with the great outdoors. But that was about to change as I chose to accept The [.ist‘s mission: improbable to survive an adventure weekend in the Highlands. accompanied by tny mountain-man boyfriend (his description) as my back-up.

()ur destination was Fairbum Activity Centre. set in fantastic grounds by Strathconnon. way tip past Inverness. where we were given a warm welcome. tea and biscuits. The first thing we noticed was the silence. and after a stroll around the grounds where a deer hopped out in front of us. the countryside didn't seem so bad after all . . .

The name of this particular break is Active 8. which means that you pack eight activities into one weekend. First tip. the ropes course. where you swing and stumble through a series of ropes and bridges to emerge victorious at the other end. Then there‘s the death slide. Suspended across what is really just a big pond. it’s still a long way to fall. but take it from me. you'll be running straight back tip and going across backwards.

Just one challenge left before lunch. bttt it was a pretty big one: climbing tip a 20ft ISO-year-old Noble liir tree before abseiling down the other side. ‘You were like a tnonkey.~ remarked Mountain Man. amazed at my skill and speed. What he didn't see was the look of sheer terror

that propelled me tip through the branches. After lunch. rested and well-fed with huge portions of home cooking. we tnade our way to

the archer field. where I could imagine myself

as an American Indian warrior. To round off a merry afternoon. we went mountain hiking. Racing down by the river getting splattered with mud. the feeling of wild abandon was almost enough to make rne forget the pain of the saddle. That evening. fortified by more delicious cooking and relaxed by the jacuzzi (every room has its own) I was asleep by nine.

Sunday brought the jewel in the crown kayaking on nearby l.och Achonacic. In these two—person kayaks. you‘re not going to be doing arty rolls or rttnning across the fronts you just soak up the scenery while paddling across the water. Later. as we headed back to the city. I felt more chilled-out than ever before. Stiffer and more midge-bitten than ever before. granted. but it was a small price to pay for discovering the adventurer within.

Fairbum Activity Centre, Marybank, Muir of 0rd, Ross-shire IV6 7UT, 01997 433397, e-mail:,

I l'ill'flll'lllt’l' iii/minutirm and holiday ii/i'us. call The Highlands (i/‘Si'uI/(mr/ lune/lure llU/l/i/It' (m 0870 5/4.”)70.


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The ‘Active~8' holiday at Fairburn was just one of many specizeilly tailored packages on offer on the site. Within the ‘Go For It!' section you'll find a whole range of holidays. mostly weekend breaks which are ideal for the beginner. There's ‘Awesome Activities & Airborne Action' where you can go climbing, gorge scrambling. mountain biking and paragliding for $7125, or Monster Wet & Wild Weekend' where for E i 15 you“ be abseiling. jet biking. mountain biking and white water rafting. W'th these packages. you don't hav:~ to worry

a. ‘tit organising anything; they take care of the at :ommodation. activities and often the food.

Activity Scotland represents numerous Scottish activity providers. all of whom have to meet strict criteria to gain membership. Its website. has vast amounts of helpful information. YOU can search the site by activity or by area. as well as find contact details for and rinks to all the members and their websites. For a brochure write to Activity Scotland, Bridge House. Bridge Street, lnverness Wt 109 or call 01463 244299.

The Scottish Tourist Board's own website has a section devoted to outdoor activities with a lot of practical information. and can link with local tourist boards across Scotland.