“ The centre is a grand highland shooting lodge formerly owned by the Chief of the Clan Cameron, set amongst its own extensive grounds on the foreshore of Loch Eil. It is close to Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain, and the venue for many of our climbing activities. The centre's location close to some of Europe's most beautiful and remote true wilderness means it is ideally placed to provide unique walking and canoeing. „
whent here as a boy 44years ago loved it .Still have good memories
Loch Eil ,Outward Bound Is AmazingIt Is Great To Boost Yer ConfidenceThe Coches Are Great TooI Was There Last Week Nd I lOVED iTI Miss Everywan Especially Our Coach MattMac Donald Clan Numba One!!The Place Is The Best Was The Best Experince of My LifeWish I didnt Have To Leave EverywanI Climbed Boy George At 75 ftIt Is Actully 80 ft But We Only Climbed 75ftThank God:L xBubi xx
Loch Eil can be found just 7 miles from Fort William in the West of Scotland. In 2002, 120 of us (incl. teachers) were bussed to the Loch Eil Centre for some team building and testing our limits in all elements as part of our final year at school
also known as the Outward Bound Scotland. This Centre can host up to 120 people at a time and is ideal for pupils and those in a corporate position in order to know you colleagues better. We probably thought we knew our friends but this course was extremely testing. We each paid £185 for the trip which may sound a lot but it is so worth it!
Arriving at the Centre which is aptly named after being situated next to the Loch, the centre is more of a castle nestled into the Scottish landscape with the most amazing view. The white castle wasnt enough to host all of us but there are separate dorms round the back I stayed in Summers Wing the instant joke being Ann Summers. As soon as we entered, we got into our groups and introduced to the instructors. They are all highly qualified (AALA licensed) but we were lucky enough to have 2 Ed[ward] and Ian. Ian was just training at that time but Ed was with us on the majority of the activities (Ian was only with us without Ed on the Parachute Jump but that was overseen by another instructor). Some instructors are not so nice my friends complained the whole time about theirs but we were lucky enough to have two hilarious guys.
The first thing is to be shown to your rooms Summers Wing is a dorm and sleep 12 people per room (6 bunk beds) but is not the nicest of places: the brown carpet, the fire door which was locked and the fire alarms which would go off if using any kind of spray (e.g. deodorant). The beds were comfy though which was such a relief with the activities we had to endure! Summers Wing contains male and female toilets/showers. It is best to wear something on your feet not that it was dirty (well it was once we finished) but it is just more hygienic. The showers (x 2) were SO claustrophobic there is barely room to turn around in them. There were 3 toilets in each the male/female toilets (we used the males too since it was all girls in Summers Wing).
Back in the castle (there are turrets on it!); there is one main room which is just like a living room. This is the main meeting area but is also a social area where we played pool, played table tennis, watched TV and just had a chat. It is large enough to fit all 120+ of us but was extremely squashed so luckily we only had to be all in the same room at the introduction and for the certificate giving. Each group has their own meeting room which is quite small, has a large table in the middle and a flip board to write on. We spent most of the time looking out the window. Everyone introduces themselves on day 1 and the instructors give times etc. for dinner and take any valuables for safe keeping.
The castle contains a little shop. You are out in the middle of no where and not even the teachers could escape for a pint down the pub! Here you could buy sweets but from what I remember, they werent that cheap. You can buy things like toothbrushes etc. though just in case you forgot it. The instructors will tell you when this is open because it is only open for a few hours each day.
There are barns surrounding the castle which are used for indoor icebreaker activities, one holds all the waterproofs (some of these are top of the range and are used as testers for going on sale in shops so not cheap), another holds all the camping equipment and there is another area which is where all the hiking boots are kept. Everything is numbered so has to be put back in the correct place.
All meals are provided by the centre and not much chance of going hungry. For some reason, you are only allowed to enter the dining room when the whole of your group is present and you have to be there at a certain time (the seating area is not huge so only 3 or 4 groups can be seated at one time). It is exactly like school dinners. Get a plate and the dinner ladies will pile your plate up with what you ask for. Meals are like lasagne, baked potatoes etc. Drinks are provided soft drinks and tea/coffee. It is important to have breakfast (expect porridge/cereal/toast) because you will need it. Youll need a packed lunch almost every day which is just a bag and you pick sandwiches, a few chocolate biscuits (which were actually quite nice!) and a piece of fruit each.
**WARNING** SCOTLAND = MIDGIES!
Ok, no joke! I have lived in Scotland all my life but luckily in the south. Im amazed there was anything left of us to come back after the amount of times we were bitten! TAKE INSECT REPELLENT! These midges just dont seem to be repelled by anything but the midge nets provided by the centre at least keep some of them away. It is not a pleasant experience to be out in nature relieving yourself (see Expedition activity) to be bitten in areas that you shouldnt be!
It is very dirty and muddy at times since the weather is so unpredictable. I took all my old clothes to wear for the activities so it didnt matter if they got wet or ripped but waterproofs are provided. Shorts are a good idea especially under the wet suit but midges are a problem. In the evenings, I was wearing jeans and trainers which are not practical for the day activities. Towels are not provided so take your own.
All of us were divided into groups which were sorted before even going on the trip. These were mixed groups and there were 6 girls and 6 boys in ours. Throughout the week, there were several activities per day so we were up early (about 7am) to get on with it.
Ice Breakers: Generally at the start of the trip, youll go through this. It just involves team games using ropes, balls, hoops and is quite good fun. There is a huge field just outside the centre looking out into the loch where this happens. There is also a separate area in the woods which is more of a play park full of rope ladders etc. It is a little like an assault course where there is also huge climbing walls which require a lot of team work grabbing your friends to haul them over.
Kayaking: This is done out on the loch. Everyone gets into the kayak then in the middle of the loch you are asked to swap positions and the person at the back is left to give the directions (somehow that was always me). We were tested on going forwards and backwards which is not easy. Luckily we never fell in! There is like a coast guard to make sure the current isnt too strong even if there were 12 of us, we were having enough trouble and they made sure we didnt get swept out by the wind from the surrounding hills.
Parachute Jump: A little like a bungee jump, this activity is not good for those afraid of heights. There is a huge mat below but we were so high up, the mat wasnt visible until after we stepped off the plank. Everything is done under safety everyone is wearing helmets, and is securely harnessed which is checked several times but there was one in the group who needed a lot of encouragement (it wasnt me), and it was times like this you knew who your friends were.
Tree Climbing: This was one of my favourite activities. The tree itself is called Boy George after the singer because of its branches which were like his braids. The tree is 80ft tall and an extreme test of character and support of those in the group because everyone is joined in a line by rope. The whole climb too us 3 hours but it seemed like 10 minutes because I loved it so much. The instructor heads up the tree first, as soon as the rope is tight, you are next and there is no way down except for following the instructor up to the top and back down. You dont have to be a gymnast although it does help but we were all like monkeys swinging back down again! When I got to the top, there was a huge gust of wind and the whole tree started swaying but the view was like no other. I could see the world from there the tops of the trees, the hills and the loch. Just spectacular.
Raft Building: This was a really fun activity but hard work in the rain and cold. It required a lot of planning we didnt want to sink! So pen to paper we went about designing the raft. Then we took the short walk to the loch, got the huge logs, the barrels, the ropes and built it. This was a race with another team to build, get out on the loch, round the course, back on land, dismantle the raft and put everything back. We came second (out of two teams!) but it was close and we all had muscle after that there are strong currents in that Loch! Of course, every raft needs a song so we sang ours loud and proud to the theme of Robbie Williams Angels (see end).
The [dreaded] Expedition: 1 night in a tent stranded somewhere in the middle of the hills with no amenities my idea of hell. We were like army troopers! We were armed with our rucksacks which contained the tent, food, water, extra clothes, safety equipment we could easily have fallen backwards if someone prodded us. We were driven up to the hills and dumped. The instructors had a course and the meeting place to get picked up so we did have a general direction. The instructors were there with us but they handed the responsibility over to us to find our way (why did I have to say I can read a map!?). Our course was relatively flat which was such a relief (at least one group did a Munroe!) but blisters were a problem for some. We were supposed to go up a huge hill in the morning but we all slept until about 10 a.m. so that was out of the question. The food is all powdered or dried but the fresh stream water was better than wed get out of a tap. Vegetarian options are available in these packed foods and you get to choose what you want before going out. Id highly recommend the curry we even made an extra packet and ate that too! The tents could sleep 2 but we ended up with 3 since 2 of them pitched their tent on a wet area. We were comfortable and it kept more heat in. Take a pack of cards with you for something to do although we went to bed before the sun disappeared and were asleep not long after. A toilet roll is also recommended as you are outside and you have to make use of the hills for privacy. We were asked if we were in the army in the morning when some hill walkers went past (nooooo!). It was dry although there were some showers and the sun was shining at times so we just had our t-shirts on.
MORNING DIP: This is the first time I was ever glad football was on the TV! I think it was the World Cup but each visit (normally the last day) there is a morning dip in the Loch madness! Luckily, the instructors and the boys were football fans so we didnt have to participate in this activity!
JACOBS LADDER: If your group doesnt climb Boy George, youll probably climb Jacobs ladder. This ladder is gigantic but the test is that each rung is further apart than the one before it so it becomes almost a whole person taller at the top which means climbing on your team mates to get to the top. I think there were about 6 rungs and my friends were getting to the fourth before getting stuck.
ROCK CLIMBING: Where else but on Ben Nevis! My group didnt get this activity either but I would have loved to do it. From what I gather, you dont have to go up that far.
ZIP WIRE: A long line across a very high ridge which you are attached to by a harness and zip along the wire to the other side another height tester!
Activities would normally end in the evening (I think there were still some after the evening meal) and night time was your own. For the smokers (and no doubt that could mean a lot!), there is a designated area around the back of the castle with a seat so you can enjoy a cigarette (and if there are midges about, just smoke through your midge net as one of our teachers did!). Like mentioned above, there is the TV, pool tables etc. to play on but anything portable is always good to take if you do get bored (like a pack of cards).
Safety at the centre is second to none. The instructors kept an eye on us the whole time but not so much that we were mollycoddled - we did have some responsibility. Whenever needed, you will wear helmets, harness (not the most comfortable of things), midge nets, and all waterproofs provided. Even boots for the expedition. If you are expected to go on the expedition, I would recommend a really thick pair of socks because the boots are not that comfy.
I have been on two very similar courses to this (another in first year at High School) but nothing can come close to Outward Bound. Ok, so the rooms were not the nicest but after a day of climbing 80ft trees etc. as soon as you head hits the pillow, you are asleep. The surrounding area is spectacular and everything you see in the films (although since we live in a similar area, it probably doesnt seem as inspiring to us). The instructors were fabulous and really kept us entertained but forced us to push our boundaries. The whole week was a test of character and some of my group needed a lot of support to continue the activities but we were much stronger as a group after it. It was a laugh but taught us a lot about ourselves and is highly recommended even to those in a business environment because the instructors will work with those in the group. You dont need to worry about being young and agile one of the heavy smoking teachers even climbed Boy George but needed a cigarette as soon as he got to the bottom (the instructors didnt seem impressed). £185 isnt a lot when you think of the meals, the instruction and the shelter and I wouldnt hesitate in doing the whole thing again. 5/5 *****
We will sail away
Theres a raft, contemplate our faith
And does it know, the places that we go
When were wet and cold
And we have been told
That salvation lets our sails unfold
So when youre lying on the raft
Feeling really daft
You wanna be in bed
Youre lovin raftin instead.
Outward Bound, June 02 Raft Song.
Outward Bound Trust
By Fort William PH33 7NN
Tel: +44 (0) 1397 772866 / Fax: +44 (0) 1397 773901