IGO was in the Scottish Highlands last week for our first adventure weekend. In this Scotland report we hope to add a little more flesh to add to the bone for what was an incredible trip.
“It’s very difficult to put into words how deeply last weekend impacted me. I feel like my soul was asleep in this tight case and through the IGO Weekend it managed to break free. I came home feeling plugged into life and overwhelmed with gratefulness.”
The IGO weekend was devised as a stepping stone for the Signature week-long challenges. It is a 3 day, 2 night adventure (Friday – Sunday) where adventure meets festival… in the wilderness!
The IGO team arrived on the banks of Loch Lomond full of anticipation and a few days before the arrival of 60 fresh-faced participants on Friday. The weather was phenomenal and so most of the day was spent praying to the weather gods!
The adventure began from the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, which is beautifully nestled in 45,000 acres of rolling glen and ben. The owners, the Clan Colquhoun, treated everyone to haggis, neeps and tatties whilst IGO gave a welcome and short briefing before the group departed civilisation and made for the hills.
The first day was a 12km hike/run up Glen Luss shadowed by the looping mountains set against clear blue skies. The walk was a beautiful welcome to the highlands. Each person chose a different route along this un-tracked valley until they reached the watershed boundary. As they descended from the mountains, the campsite came into view.
Nestled next to a small burn (river), the campsite was perfectly situated on flat green grass. Each person shared a bell tent with a lantern, a mattress and 3 other people. There was also a bigger tent which was heated for drying clothes and shoes etc.
The first evening was very much about living in the wild and on basic rations. Some people washed and cooled off in the burn, some practised a spot of yoga, others learnt survival skills, while some just enjoyed the peace and serenity of exchanging stories over a campfire.
The following morning the campsite was woken not by a siren or aeroplane but by a set of bagpipes playing over the hill. It was a magical moment of true Scotland.
With a good breakfast and packed lunch, everyone departed camp on foot and in high spirits heading towards Loch Lomond. The canoes were ready to go and formed the perfect mode of transport to get across the loch. The silence in the middle of the lake was broken only by the gentle paddling of the participants.
Arriving on the east shore of Loch Lomond, we were at the bottom of the most southerly Munro – Ben Lomond. The mountain is covered in grass, heather and peat bogs with a single track footpath winding its way up the mountain on the western face. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other for the ascent. Then stopping for food and water every hour. When we reached the summit – it was definitely a ‘selfie’ moment. The feeling of achievement really set in – for some, this adventure was their first time camping, their first mountain summit and first challenge. Marked with a cairn the views from the top were spectacular. In fact, we could almost see our campsite across the loch from up there.
We returned to camp from the summit down the southern route and headed back to the canoes. Strong winds meant that we had to use alternative means to get across the lake but arriving back into camp that evening was fantastic.
Our home for the weekend had been transformed. It was now all about the celebration: whisky experiences, prize giving and music around the campfire ensued into the night. Accompanied by nothing more than the moon and the stars it was a beautiful evening disconnected from the outside world. It allowed us to reconnect and plug ourselves back into life.
The following morning we packed up camp and walked off the hillside to meet the bus to take us home. In total, over 50 participants covered 46 km over 2 days by foot and canoe – no mean feat and one to be applauded!
What a weekend! Who’s in for the next Scotland Weekend Challenge?
Glossary of Scottish Terms:
- Burn = Stream
- Loch = Lake
- Glen = Valley
- Munro = Mountain over 3,000 ft
- Cairn = A mound of rough stones built as a memorial or landmark, typically on a hilltop or skyline
- Ben = Mountain