Western Isles trip 2015
For the fourth year running, a group of pupils made their way up to the Isle of Arran, just off the West coast of Scotland. We drove up early on Sunday morning and were somewhat surprised to encounter some fairly heavy snow whilst on the M6 – hopefully not a sign of things to come.
We arrived at Ardrossan and boarded the ferry that was to take us to Brodick on Arran. We had a comfortable crossing and then made our way to the youth hostel at the very Northern tip of Arran in a place called Lochranza. The pupils cooked supper that evening and then we went for a walk along the shoreline – it was a stunning evening with very clear skies.
The aim of the Monday was to climb Goat Fell, the highest mountain on the island. Goat Fell stands at 874m and considering the walk starts from sea level, a challenge not to be taken lightly. We started out in fair weather conditions but as we got higher and entered the cloud, it became wet and cold. As we reached the ridge the wind became very strong and some were starting to find the walking quite difficult. The decision was made to turn back before reaching the summit. This is an important lesson to learn – I have taken many walks up mountains and on numerous occasions have had to turn back. That evening we had a lovely meal at the Lochranza Hotel.
On the Tuesday we headed back to the mainland. First port of call was Asda to do our shopping for the next 4 days. The pupils had been set the task of working out the menu for all breakfasts, lunches and suppers and then trying to work out a budget for them – always very interesting to see what they come up with! We then made the short journey to Largs to meet our skippers and to see the yachts for the first time.
Half of the group were on Kea and the other half were on Skua, two fabulous 45 foot yachts.
Wednesday morning broke and it was clearly quite windy. This meant we could get some excellent sailing in straight away. Initially everyone learned how to put the main sail up and then how to open the Jib. We practised some tacking and quickly improved, the groups working well as teams. As the day went on, everyone had a go at helming the boat and generally managed to go in the right direction! Our route took us from Largs, through the Kyles of Bute and to a lovely marina called Portavadie.
On Thursday there were bright blue skies and barely a breath of wind. This meant that we were likely to have to motor for the majority of the day. We did manage to see some dolphins and even a basking shark, much to the pleasure of Toby. We stopped in the loch at Lochranza for lunch and everyone even braved the cold waters to have a quick swim – some somewhat quicker than others! We then motored to Ardrossan where we would spend the evening.
On Friday morning the wind had picked up again and was coming from the East, almost perfect as we were to head North up to Largs. Sailing all the way at speeds approaching 10 Knots, this was a fantastic morning. That afternoon we had to clean the boats and say goodbye to our skippers. Heading South to the Lake District everyone was tired but full of stories from a fantastic few days sailing. We made good time to Ambleside and had fish and chips next to Lake Windermere where the boys even challenged a touring rugby side to a quick game of rugby. On Saturday we spent some time in Ambleside for some retail therapy and then headed back to school.
Once again, an absolutely fabulous trip with some wonderful children. They are always such good company and earned comments from random people as to how well behaved and polite they were.