Wednesday, 27 September 2017

If someone told you to jump off a cliff....

As some of you may know, I've been a bit quiet lately due to going to Uni, and working. It's been a tiring few weeks!
I've just started doing an Outdoor Education and Learning degree with Perth College (UHI) and so far, it has not only pushed me out of my comfort zone, but has me doing loads of activities that I have been wanting to do for ages. It's really started to make me realise where my boundaries are, and how far I can be nudged out of my comfort zone. After all, you can't have adventures without being pushed out of the cosy comfort zone.

Our first outdoor, practical based module was all about Gorge Walking, Canyoning, and Coasteering and since starting the course I've come to realise how little people know of these sports.
To sum it up, these sports are often booked for hen and stag do's. It consists of having a couple of instructors telling you where to swim, climb, and jump off cliffs. Each one of these sports is different, and each one has their own personal traits.

We started off with canyoning. Canyoning is where you go into a gorge, and make your way from point A to point B in the easiest, and quickest manner.  This normally involves jumping off cliffs, (and yes, if someone tells to you jump off a cliff, you do it!) and sliding down wee waterfalls. There is also some swimming. (However swimming is not a necessary skill for canyoning) We started off just outside of Aberfeldy for this activity, and then headed to the falls of Bruar. Both times the water was on the cold side, and both times I couldn't do the bigger jumps. I would get to the top of a cliff, trying to talk up the situation in my head "one, two three, JUMP" and my body would just freeze and my mind go blank! The few times I did manage to jump, I didn't particularly enjoy it other than the feeling of pride that I had pushed a barrier and jumped. For these activities we worked in liason with Splash, and Nae Limits, and they talked us through how they keep their staff and clients safe, and any safety precautions they take.

Next we done Coasteering. Coasteering is where you make your way from point A to B along a rocky coast, by climbing, scrambling, swimming, jumping, caving, (basically anything safe you can think of) This started on week three, (which has just passed) when we had our first residential. The plan was that we'd some Canyoning and Coasteering on the same day, however the rain had put a spanner in the works for the Canyoning so we headed off to Easdale. Easdale is about 30 mins from Oban, and is part of the very beautiful west coast. It used to be a slate mining village, and now holds the world stone skimming championships every September. We headed off down the rock pools, and into the water where we got the feeling of the tide pulling and pushing us. We were talked through how to make sure the area we are going to is safe, and how to read tides. We then swam from the wee rock-pool area's to the main coastline (which was like a cliff face) to do some scrambling and climbing along the cliff-side. I enjoyed this a lot more than the canyoning as there was less jumping, and the jumps we did do where easier, and it is a less terrifying jumping into the ocean. The only downside to coasteering is that when I was pulling myself out of the water, the rocks were barnacle encrusted, and resulted in me having no fingerprints!

Last but not least, we have done one gorge walk. This is really simple. You are in a gorge, and you walk. The water is shallow, but flowing, and there are less jumps. The gorge we walked put us in the mindset of leading a younger age group through the gorge. Where would we stand, what would we take with us, how would we keep safe. We done some role playing where some of where leaders, some where assistants and others where children. And to top that day off we done some abseiling at the end. It was my first time doing abseiling, and I loved it. A much more controlled way of flinging yourself off a cliff!  The residential was situated at Kilbowie Outdoor Centre, which is an outdoor centre in Oban, run by North Lanarkshire Council. Every P7 in North Lanarkshire gets the opportunity to go and participate in outdoor activities.

All in all, the last few weeks have been a blast, no matter how terrified I have been standing at the top of cliffs. It's been fantastic to see where my limits lie and to try and work on them, and to try and push them bit by bit each session.
Until next time (I'll try not to leave it so long this time)
Jade- Your Introvert Adventurer.