Mark Castle, chief executive of the Field Studies Council, expands on his own childhood trip to the Mull of Galloway in Scotland.
The Mull of Galloway is Scotland’s most southerly point with miles of sandy beaches and fantastic views. It is also one of the best places in the UK to view dolphins, porpoises and sea birds, plus the comparatively warm climate, courtesy of the Gulf Stream, means that unusual varieties of plants and trees flourish here. How do I know? Because I was lucky enough to go there on a school residential trip and, over 40 years later, the memories remain fresh.
Long before the area was designated as a Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI), the Galloway Walking Trail was opened and the nature reserve was created and our committed and enlightened teachers took groups of students there, not only to appreciate and study the environment but also to make memories and friendships.
Based in the village of Drummore, within sight of its famous lighthouse, we spent four days in rotations climbing and abseiling from the cliffs, sea canoeing off Drummore point and walking the coastal trail.
My trepidation about the capsize drills and my satisfaction with completing our sea expedition are only matched by my memory of waiting anxiously for my turn to tackle the cliffs and my great relief at conquering my fears.
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Then there were the barbecues on the beach. With the midges kept at bay by heaps of insect repellent, we were free to share our tales, to boast and to challenge those who would follow in our footsteps. Here we extended and enriched friendships only partly developed during the day.
It was also an opportunity to see our teachers in a completely different light. To this day, the sight of Mr Mathews, my very strict and apparently humourless maths teacher, playing his guitar around the camp fire, or Miss Sinclair (geography) expertly scaling rocks like a mountain goat, remind me never to ‘judge a book by its cover’.