Thursday, April 17, 2014

#tbt Canyoning in Scotland

Back when we were living in South Korea, we took a family trip home to Scotland.  While we were there, I surprised the husband with a canyoning trip for his Birthday.  Why I did this, I will probably never know!  

Wikipedia:  Canyoning (known as canyoneering in the U.S.) is traveling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include other outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling (rapelling), and/or swimming

I booked it through G2  who made the video above and were very helpful considering we lived so far away.  All we had to do on the day was show up!  They most certainly did.  We were the only 2 who had booked for that particular day, so it was like having a custom made trip just for us.  Doesn't get better than that!  My memory is a wee bitty sketchy so please bear with me as I try to remember our awesome morning canyoning in the Highlands of Scotland!     

Yes, that's me!

First we were fitted for our wetsuits, life jackets and helmets at G2's HQ in Aviemore.  That didn't take too long and we were soon on the road to get to our starting point.  It took about 45 mins to get to the canyoning location and we quickly changed into our wetsuits in the car park.  Not much privacy going on, but there wasn't much traffic going by either, thank goodness!   Our guide was called Andy, he was enthusiastic, confident and a good laugh too which was a bonus. 

Immediately we set off up a steep and pretty muddy trail, following a river, I was out of breath pretty quickly.  We climbed for about an hour, surrounded by amazing Scottish scenery and even more amazing Scottish weather (ie. it wasn't raining).  Andy then informed us we were at the start.

It was about this time I thought "What the hell have I got us into?"  But it was a bit late in the day for regrets.  Andy had ropes, a camera and some other safety equipment that I didn't really want to know what  was for.  He briefed us on the best way to slide down rock chutes and the best way to jump into pools.  He smiled, climbed down to the river, lay on his back and pushed off down what can only be described as a natural water slide made of rocks.  He splashed into the pool at the bottom (which was black from peat but clean) and told us to follow.  I'm not going to lie, I was crapping myself.  But I didn't want to be all 'weak sauce' so got in there, screamed at how cold it was and pushed off.  IT WAS AWESOME!!!!  Until I landed in the pool at the bottom, went under and about passed out with the freezing cold!!!  Andy was taking photos to capture the expressions on our faces.  The husband came down quickly after me and once we climbed out, we agreed it was fun so far.   Kind of...

This is the husband's "Bloody hell it's freezing" face

Much squealing from myself
We had to make our way out of the pool and climb up a rocky face to a platform that was very high above another black pool.  Andy was grinning at us as he launched himself into the pool below.  My high from staying alive after the rock chute disappeared rapidly as I looked over the edge of the platform and realized how high up it was!  I'm ashamed to admit that I wimped out of the high platform and climbed down to a lower one.  But I finally jumped, it was scary but definitely exhilarating at the same time.  The husband of course, did the high one and loved it.  

We slowly made our way down the mountain, sliding, jumping, climbing, walking and pulling ourselves through and along the river.  At one point, they had set up a tarpaulin hanging down a huge, almost vertical rock face - a massive slide down into another pool!  This was amazing!  We did it twice and I was starting to enjoy myself and forget about the possibility of imminent death :)

Rock slide

It took at least a couple of hours before we arrived at a large waterfall with a huge pool.  We abseiled down under the waterfall which was again scary, but amazing and then finished off by jumping into the pool below.  Brilliant!  I thought it was over, but no, we made our way further along the river and met up with another staff member who hooked us up to a zipline that we took all the way across a huge ravine above the large waterfall.  Yes, of course I screamed the entire way, but you couldn't not enjoy it at the same time!!!

More squealing

Captain Confident

We lived!!! 

We were on such a high afterwards!  We hiked back down to the car park where we changed, said goodbye to the G2 peeps and went on our merry way to be tourists for the rest of the day, visiting The Dalmore Distillery and having amazing coffee and cake at The Mountain Cafe in Aviemore before having a child-free date night.  If you're ever there, you really have to visit them.  Their food, but most especially their cakes, are to die for.   

I would definitely recommend you try canyoning if you have the chance, you will  have a blast!!!  G2 were amazing and I'm so glad we were lucky enough to find such a fantastic company to take us on our first canyoning experience.  We will definitely do this again and will take the kiddos when they're older :)  Have you done anything adventurous recently? 

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