What adventuring teaches you

Last week we took on The Great Glen Canoe Trail – 60 miles of canals and lochs which stretch from Fort William in the East, to Inverness in the West – in what was one of our most exciting family adventures to date, and one which definitely pushed us all out of our comfort zones.

For five days we paddled a two-person sea kayak (hired from www.boots-n-paddles.co.uk) in a tag-team type approach with Kerry and Ella paddling the canal sections of the Caledonian Canal and Loch Oich sandwiched between South Laggan and Fort Augustus (the gateway to Loch Ness) and Amy, and myself taking on the lochs of Loch Lochy and Loch Ness; the latter a monstrous body of open water – some 20+ miles in length – that is classed as an inland ocean.

Being a family that has had very little experience, or time on the water paddling, it was always going to be a physical, and at times, mental challenge for us all. The deep dark waters and towering granite valley walls made us feel very insignificant and vulnerable – out of our depth. At times, fears and concerns, doubts and anxieties flooded through our minds as adrenalin raced through our bodies. The physicality of portaging the kayak around lock systems and then paddling for several hours at a time without a break, taking its toll as previously unused muscles became tired and sore. But with determination as steely as the hull of the Fingal of Caledonian – a converted holiday barge that cruises the canal – we succeeded in our quest, contributing 60 miles towards our 500 Fresh Air Miles Challenge – and having fun – lots of fun – along the way.

Kerry and Ella copy

We all learned something about ourselves on this trip: how we can dig deep when we need to; how we can take on and overcome difficult challenges and cope with the cold; and much, much more. And the informal academic learning that takes place through reading information boards, speaking to local people you meet along the way, as well as constantly witnessing landscapes and environments formed millions of years ago by glacial and tectonic activity, cannot be underestimated; it is learning that goes deep into the mind, body and soul. It’s Edventure, and I fully recommend it.