Country Sport has been something close to my heart from a very early age. I grew up in a rural environment where I was surrounded by opportunities for fishing and country sport. After a long break I am now beginning to rekindle my love for the outdoors and am making the connections again to enable me to partake. This has been as a direct result of my work with Photographer, Writer and Business Coach Linda Mellor. I am delighted to be working alongside Linda and exploring disabled participation in Country Sport.
I am grateful to have been asked to write for a relatively new magazine called Shooting Scotland. This magazine has grown out of a publication called Farming Scotland where the shooting section was produced as a supplement. Now as a separate magazine Shooting Scotland is on its 3rd issue. I am delighted to have been asked to contribute and look forward to sharing more of my ideas and stories with readers in the future.
Below in a screen shot of my first article that was published in this months issue. Hope you can zoom in to read it. If not, click in the Shooting Scotland link here, and go to page 32. Enjoy.
It is always a pleasure to review holiday accommodation and last weeks stay in Killin was no exception. Fern Cottage is a two bedroom property right in the heart of the village of Killin, providing a great location to enjoy the delights of outdoor activities in the beautiful surrounding environment. ‘Cooper Cottages’ have a number of holiday properties throughout the Trossachs and Loch Lomond and I went to experience a short stay in Fern Cottage.
As soon as I entered the property it felt very homely and presented to a very high standard. The cottage was very well furnished and contained good quality furniture and soft furnishings. All bed linen and towels were provided and were of a good quality. I quickly settled in and felt very welcome thanks to small touches such as fresh milk in the fridge and the provision of tea and coffee.
This property is very comfortable indeed and has two bedrooms, a double and a twin, as well as a luxury bathroom and fitted kitchen. The living room is very comfortable with a television, a DVD and a wood burning fire. The cottage actually has a TV/DVD in both bedrooms and dining room, and has WiFi throughout. The kitchen is fitted and includes a dishwasher and microwave. It is well stocked with suitable utensils for cooking. There is a separate dining room with a table that seats four comfortably.
Killin is a great location for exploring Perthshire and for pursuing Outdoor Activities. Surrounded by beautiful scenery there are spectacular mountains as well as Loch Tay on the doorstep. This makes it an ideal location for Munro bagging, shorter walks or water sports on the loch. Mountain biking is very popular as well as fishing and country sports. Easily reached from Edinburgh or Glasgow, Killin is an ideal location for a break away.
A few Comments
This cottage is generally suitable for a disabled person although one or two points should be mentioned here. There is a slight difference in the floor level in the hall leaving a slight step up to the bathroom and one to the sitting room. The step to the bathroom is obvious and easily seen, the change in floor height to the living room is not. I tripped and fell on this twice. This could be made a lot safer by something simple to draw attention to the change in floor height.
On the subject of accessibility, there are steps from the back door into the garden. Someone with mobility issues can reach the garden through the front door and down a gravel path. The steps would be fine but the only banister is a chain that is flexible. This is really not useful for someone like myself who’s balance is not great. It wouldn’t cost much to put up a proper banister. The cottage was perfectly suitable for me in light of my mobility difficulties. I don’t think it is suitable for a wheelchair user however.
I would definitely recommend ‘Cooper Cottages ‘ accommodation after my experience staying at Fern Cottage. Everything was spotlessly clean and of a suitable quality. Killin is a fantastic location from which to explore some spectacular places and enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
Based in East Lothian, ‘Venturing Out’ are a not for profit social enterprise whose aim is to encourage young people and adults into the outdoors. Offering a broad range of activities to key target groups, they provide the facilities and expertise required to deliver the service. This enables people to experience outdoor activities which otherwise might not be available to them. I joined a group of young disabled people recently for a canoeing session at Musselburgh Lagoons.
Disabled young people and adults for that matter, are often overlooked when it comes to outdoor pursuits. Opportunities for disabled people to take part in Sport is gradually improving. This is in large part due to the success of the British Paralympic Team and London 2012. When it comes to Outdoors Sports however, there is still work to be done. I work to raise awareness and create opportunities for better access to the Outdoors for disabled people. This came about after realising how passionate I was about sport, but how difficult it has been in the past for me to find suitable opportunities. Realising the social and emotional benefits of taking part in outdoor pursuits, I wanted to help create the possibilities for other disabled people to do the same.
Canoeing in the Past
When I was a teenager I left school and went to special education in the Midlands. During this time I participated in a canoeing club. The college had an indoor swimming pool where we would practice in the winter months. We would go onto the river at Leamington Spa during the summer. With the help of some wonderful instructors, Geoff and Puffin, I leaned to paddle a kayak and a Canadian canoe. I even progressed to paddling K1 race canoes which were very good fun, but very unstable. All I had to do was to sneeze the wrong way and I would fall out. So when I got the change to join ‘Venturing Out’ to go canoeing, I was really delighted. I hadn’t paddled for 25 years so I didn’t know if I’d still have the balance!
Sailing the Lagoons
The Musselburgh Lagoons provides an idea and sheltered place for a group to learn to canoe. It was lovely to join a group of disabled young people and their parents on a Friday afternoon to have fun in the water. And what fun we had ! There was a selection of different boats provided for use. Kayaks, Canadian Canoes as well as open topped boats were available for people to try. If you were super brave there were even paddle boards for those who didn’t mind ending up in the water. I went straight for a kayak because I thought it would all come back to me. At first, I felt very unstable, no doubt due to the length of time it had been since I last paddled. I soon found my balance and I enjoyed being in a canoe again. I also had a shot of going solo in a canadian canoe. This is the type of canoeing I enjoy the most.
Float into the Future
It was lovely to watch many disabled young people and their families having so much fun.
Some were canoeing, some were on paddle boards while others just wanted to swim. Whatever they were doing, it was a joy to watch as they were having so much fun. This really highlights the importance of ‘Venturing Out’ and the service they are providing. Activities like this, as well as enjoying themselves, help young people build confidence, self esteem and support inclusion within their local communities. Therefore it is essential that young disabled people obtain access to this sort of activity.
I hope that by taking part and writing about Outdoor Sports, I can help in some way no matter how small. By highlighting the benefits to disabled people it might help develop opportunities. ‘Venturing Out ‘ show the need for a service and it is hoped that more disabled people will be able to take part. The Health and Well-Being benefits to my life have been extraordinary and I hope other people, both disabled and able-bodied have the opportunities to experience the joys and benefits of Outdoor Life and Sports