Testament by Oliver : "I have grown, feel ready to take on new challenges ..." July 2021
Diary Extract: Loch Eil Outward Bound Adventures 11th July 2021 by Oliver.
Thanks to Oliver for sharing his experience of Loch Eil, he was joint sponsored by The Tony Trust and Outward Bound Centres, on top of some fundraising he achieved himself. This is the diary extract he sent to us. The photo's are Olivers too.
Loch Eil Outward Bound Adventures 11th July 2021
So after a years’ delay due to Coronavirus, I finally got to leave on my trip to Loch Eil.
Sunday 11th July:
Today we took the 4 hour bus journey from Glasgow to Loch Eil ,near Fort William to start our 7 day outward bound adventure. The bus journey there was very silent and the atmosphere was strained because everyone was strangers to each other and we didn’t have much to say. However, when we arrived and split into groups of 5 to start our activities for the day, everyone’s energy shot up. In my group there was Daniel, Abi, Emma, and Gabbie. Gabbie was running (very) late so we started our first activity with just 4. Our first activity was gorge walking which I didn’t fully understand until we got to the gorge. We had our normal clothes on, a life jacket and helmet. We were told to get in the water which went up to our ankles and we were to trudge down the gorge. However fun gorge walking was, I wasn’t a big fan of getting my shoes and socks wet. This is where my group and my lovely instructor Katie first noticed my noise levels and dramatics. At every log and tree we had to climb under I screamed, not because I was scared or cold, I didn’t like getting wet with my clothes on. After we got to the bottom of the gorge we walked through a tunnel which lead to our next activity, swimming. The swimming was going to be in the famous Loch Eil and yet again, with our clothes on. But, as we were going through the tunnel, there was a slight drop before the path to the loch and the end of the bridge which I didn’t notice. I fell right into the water below which was up to our necks! At least this prepared me for the utter shock of the lochs cold water. We swam around for a while and even spotted a few seals. We headed back to the centre and got changed into some comfy clothes for the long-awaited Euro 2021 final.
This morning when the clock hit 7:30am we were all woken up to either very loud banging or very soft chapping. This was Kyle and Ailsa, who were the main instructors at the centre, who were attempting to wake us all up for a big day ahead. Today we were to set off on our expedition to Rhu beach. We packed our bags this morning as Gabby arrived late the night before. We soon were ready to get onto the bus with our instructor Katie and new co instructor Uisdean. The bags were big hiking bags that went from your lower back to your head. They were very heavy, weighing at least 12kg! We set off on the bus for the half hour drive and waved goodbye to everyone else at the centre. Once we arrived at the beach we got out and started a walk which we were told was only going to take half an hour. It was very sunny and the walk took some time. We stopped at a cave where Uisdean told us about the King of Fort William and the story behind the cave. It had stone walls like a house and was very deep and became evermore narrower and smaller as you crawled further in. We all went under the cave with a head torch on and found a sheep’s skull! I put it in my side pocket of my bag so we could use it as a camp sign. We started our walk again before arriving to our campsite. The beautiful blue sea and lovely yellow sand made it feel like a holiday in Spain. We all found a spot for our tents with the girls going to the edge of a buttress and Katie going to the small space in between 2 large rocks, with Daniel and I, placing our tents at the waters edge. Uisdean unfortunately had to leave but left behind his story stick, which was a beautifully carved stick that we planted into the ground outside our tents next to the sheep skull. To add to the decoration of our tents we put a pair of boxer shorts on the stick which flew in the wind like a proud flag. After everyone had settled in we gathered round for dinner. We had packed meals prepared for us by the outward bound team that included ration packs of our choice. My choice was Steak and Vegetables. We used a trangea which is a small cooking pot that used meth as a light. We boiled our packets for a few minutes and ate around the pot. The food might not have been the nicest, but sitting with our group was great fun. After everyone had finished and ate some of the Outward Bounds’ finest flapjacks, we got prepared for a swim. Gabbie, Katie and I were still eating and Katie asked me how many different activities did I want to do. I replied to her, “I want to do everything, because if I don’t I’ll regret it later, so even if I’m nervous I’m still going to try everything on offer.” To my surprise this greatly inspired Gabbie who ran to her tent to get ready for swimming. We all got to the sea and started to run in, then run out, over and over again. The water was really cold but after awhile, you no longer noticed. Gabbie came over to me and told me how much I had inspired her. She jokingly added that she really disliked me now as she also had set her heart on doing everything whereas before she wasn’t so keen! We all paddled about for a while before running back to our tents, desperate to escape the freezing waters. We got ready for bed and walked up to the cliff side. We all sat around the cliff and watched the beautiful sunset sharing stories. So ended a really fun and enjoyable day.
Today we were awoken by the low mooing of at least 10 cows near to our tents. Luckily when we fell asleep all our zips were closed or we might have had a few unexpected visitors during the night. They weren’t Highland cows but rather Belted Galloway cows as our instructor told us. We all got together and sat at a nearby rock to observe the cows. I decided it would be a good idea to formally introduce myself to the nice looking cow who was rhythmically rubbing her head against a stone. She ate next to my feet and unlike the other cows, was very comfortable with me staring her down as she ate. Then she lifted her head and for a moment I got quite scared, but she licked my feet, then proceeded to go up my body and lick my arms and legs... after that I quickly but calmly escaped to the rock everyone was sitting and we decided on her name. The first name that came to mind was from Emma and it was Belinda. Without thought we all agreed Belinda was the best name for the cow and we watched her finish her breakfast. After some more cow watching we packed our bags and started our walk back to the bus. On the return journey to the centre, most of us slept soundly. However, the day was still young and we had one activity left to do. Once we got back to the centre we dumped our bags in the kit room and met with Katie at the lunch benches. Katie told us that we were going to go gorge walking and even do some jumping into water! I was very excited. We got our swimsuits from the kit room and got dressed. Everyone met Katie back at the kit room with our wetsuits on and everyone had a good laugh at each other. Soon we hopped on the bus and started our journey that took about half an hour. We walked the 5 minutes up to the start of the gorge and got right into it. We hopped and slipped and stepped over every obstacle in the way. There were very slippy rocks and it was hard to find the right path to take to make the walking easier. We made it to a waterfall after a few minutes of climbing and we all had goes going under. It was very loud with the laughter and a very beautiful spot. After we finished our gorge walk we walked another 5 minutes to the jumping area. We walked to a large cliff ledge that had a big pool of water underneath. It looked like the rock from the Lion King that Simba was held aloft from. Katie gave instructions on how we were to jump and we all took out turns. I wasn’t worried at all and after Katie gave me the thumbs up, I stepped off with my arms crossed like she said and fell right into the water. It felt like I was in the air for at least 3 seconds and was a huge adrenaline rush. After the rest of the group went, we walked back to the bus and headed back to the centre. When we got there, a nice, hot shower was needed before everyone got changed for dinner.
Today we had planned scrambling and abseiling. We got all the kit needed for the day and took the bus to the lower falls area in Fort William. We found the path to start at and Katie handed us an instruction book. It had instructions on how to get to our destination and we had to work together as a group. However, the photos in the instruction book were taken in autumn so we had to use the trees around us to figure out where we were and how to get to the destination. We took turns leading and stopped at a few climbing rocks to challenge how far we could walk up with no hands. Once we finally got to our destination we took a photo on the rock and then began the walk to the abseiling area. Once we got there we got hooked up at the top and made sure every rope was tight. I asked to go first and I conquered the mountain slowly but surely. Next was Gabbie and third was Emma who was a bit nervous and started to panic. She pushed herself nevertheless and once halfway there Gabbie shouted, “Go Emma we’re halfway there!” Suddenly I shouted back, “Woahh living on a prayer!” This made Emma laugh and she finished the abseil and afterwards said it actually helped. After everyone was done we headed back on the bus and made our way back to centre for dinner.
Today we prepared for yet another expedition this time to a loch near to a tower. We packed our bags like we did the previous day and hopped on the bus with the canoes trailing behind. We were going to canoe for a while before beginning our walk. We arrived and we split into groups of 3 and carried a canoe each over to the sea. We got all our paddles into the boat and put our spare clothes in a dry bag. Once we had done this we got in our canoes and set off into the cold sea that surrounded a castle on an island. I was in a canoe with Daniel and Abi was with Katie and Gabbie and Emma were together. After some paddling we stopped our canoes and had our lunch.
Today, we went to the kit room and got some harnesses and helmets for our activities: zip line, leap of faith and crate game. We did the zip line which was fast and fun. Then, was leap of faith which was a very tall ladder with a big yellow ball. The point was to jump and try to slap the ball. Everyone did it before we moved onto the crate game. We had to stack crates one on top of each other and see how high we could get. Abi won with 21 crates! Then we had our last dinner with everyone and went to bed.
Today was our last day and to end the week off we did canoeing again. I got some good photos out on the canoe and afterwards, we said our goodbyes and took the long bus back to Glasgow and the bus station. We left this time as friends and there was lots of chat and noise on the return journey.
This week was one of the most memorable and one of the best times of my life. Something I am sure to remember. For the biggest adrenaline junkies to the more anxious this week was great. It’s perfect for all and leaves you with incredible memories. I would love to come back with friends or with my siblings. I want to thank Outward Bound for the opportunity and the support they gave which allowed me to have this experience. The coaches are truly lovely and quite amazing. They encouraged, supported and believed in each of us. Their words helped us face our fears and conquer the challenges. In this course anyone can feel like a leader and a champion and that’s what made our group wonderful. I have grown, feel ready to take on new challenges and I have been inspired to take on more than I thought myself capable of. I have returned with a love and better understanding of nature and our surroundings. A belief in my own abilities. Outward Bounding? Outward Astounding.