Life as a Scottish travel blogger is never dull. It’s a constant blur of new people, places and experiences – I absolutely LOVE it. No two days are ever the same, and you never quite know what to expect next. It’s the unexpected element that thrills me. So, with the scene now sufficiently set, let me share with you my most recent adventure.
Foxlake is Scotland’s first cable wakeboarding park and the UK’s only rope based assault course over water. It’s located in a pretty, leafy setting 3 miles west of the town of Dunbar. On first approach it looks tranquil and sleepy, relaxing even but don’t be fooled as this is an adrenaline inducing adventure park.
Wakeboarding started to evolve as a sport in the late 1970s and early 1980s. If you’re wondering what it is, then think skateboarding or snowboarding, but on water and you pretty much have it.
On arrival, Jacob our instructor got us kitted out with wetsuits, buoyancy aids and safety helmets, before giving us a quick rundown of the basics of wakeboarding. Knees over toes, shoulders back, arms straight, back straight, bottom in – would I remember any of this when it mattered, as I was being dragged through the water, trying to hang on for dear life?! The Wee White Dug looked on bemused.
It was as this stage that The Teen bailed out, explaining that there was no way she was going to have her feet strapped into two big boots, attached to a watery skateboard – not a chance. Mr G had taken part in the dry land demo but he was also sitting this one out. He can swim, but has a phobia of water after a near drowning accident as a child. Wakeboarding wasn’t high up on his bucket list, along with those other suggestions of mine – canoeing and water trampolining!
I was on my own. ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ I thought as I slipped into the water feeling a tad apprehensive. My four-legged buddy looked on anxiously. Mr G and The Teen weren’t quite so anxious – they’d have pulled up deck-chairs and brought popcorn along if they could. They love nothing better than a laugh at my expense, so I knew they’d be hoping for a good belly laugh.
I got into position and waited. I felt the cable tighten, and before I knew it I was upright and gliding (without grace) through the water. I felt euphoric, it was great fun, and even when I fell over I was desperate to get back on the board again.
Knees over toes, shoulders back, back straight, bottom in I reminded myself as I tried to improve my stance and stay upright a little longer each time.
I was surprised at how much I loved the experience, but I probably shouldn’t have been as I grew up a water baby, always swimming or larking around on a rope swing by the River Almond, close to where I lived as a teenager. I loved to canoe too, and felt right at home paddling on a Scottish loch or river.
I was hyper when I left the water. I puffed with pride when Jacob praised me for managing to get myself upright first time. Apparently, that doesn’t happen too often.
I must have made it look easy(ish) and lots of fun, as super competitive Mr G had, had a change of heart and was now raring to go. I was delighted and proud that he was trying to overcome his fear in pursuit of some water based fun.
Did he achieve an upright position first time? Nope – and I was absolutely over the moon, as he revels in winning and beating me at all times. It was nice to finally have a small victory to call my own. Like me, he loved wakeboarding and the feeling of pride that comes with achieving an upright position on the board.
Jacob was a brilliant instructor. He was patient, easy to follow, encouraging and seemed genuinely chuffed with our small successes in the water.
The Teen was still adamant that she wouldn’t be donning the big boots attached to a board so we moved on to FoxFall, the rope based assault course next.
The Teen and I went first, selecting the easiest of the four routes round. Two minutes in my confidence went and I froze. I was only a few feet off the ground but I’d convinced myself that it was waaaaay higher than it looked. Jacob tried his best to encourage me to move, giving handy hints about how to make it easier for myself. I wasn’t for budging though. I had visions of me still there hours later, clinging on under a moonlit sky after everyone else had gone home. I decided to inch myself back to the start and tag Mr G in.
Meanwhile The Teen had clearly found something she loved. She was progressing round the course with a slow and steady determination.
Once tagged in, competitive Mr G shot along the most difficult route (but not before stopping to pose for a photo first). He can always find time to pose for a photo!
I watched from the side-lines with the wee dug, snapping photos and secretly hoping someone would fall in so I could get a photo and have a good laugh.
I was all out of luck as both made it round without the mere hint of a wobble.
FoxFall ends with a thrilling zip-line into water. It looked great fun, so once Mr G and The Teen had finished I had a go too.
We were enjoying ourselves so much that we didn’t want to leave, but we reluctantly trudged off to the showers, all three of us dripping wet and happy.
Foxlake Adventures gained three new fans that afternoon. There’s already been talk of a return visit. The Teen has her eye on a hoodie she spotted in the shop. Mr G is keen to try the Segway Trail, and me? I can’t wait to give wakeboarding another go.
On the weekend of 20th and 21st May the Foxlake Outdoor Festival will take place at the park. There’ll be stand-up comedy, live music, wakeboarding, BMXing, free running and more, but the aim of the festival is to get families exercising and having fun together outdoors.
We arrived at Foxlake, a group of mixed ages and abilities, not sure what to expect, and bringing with us our fears and phobias. We left laughing and feeling fantastic – a family brought together by a shared outdoor adventure.
We headed to the lovely village of Dirleton to walk to Yellowcraig Beach along part of the John Muir Way (a 134-mile, long distance walking route).
The Wee Dug, now free as a bird, trotted along happy as Larry.
When we reached the beach car park the Ice cream van was there – yippee. We’d definitely earned an ice cream with chocolate flakes and raspberry sauce each. The Wee Dug got a taste too, as he’d been a great little pace setter on the way there, despite the warm weather.
Yellowcraig is one of my favourite East Lothian beaches. It boasts a long stretch of sand, and is sheltered by high dunes and grassland. Just off the coast sits the small rocky island of Fidra. Robert Louis Stevenson spent time in this area as a child, and it’s said Fidra was the inspiration behind his Treasure Island map.
When I visit my mind always wanders to rum drinking pirates and hidden treasure.
The boy had a great time running around like a mad thing. Once he’d worn himself out he paddled in the sea to cool off his feet.
After our visit to the beach we weren’t ready to head home, so we decided to stay in the area for dinner. We ended our afternoon of adventure at a dog friendly favourite of ours – The Old Clubhouse in Gullane. One delicious veggie chilli, and two portions of fish & chips later we were full, tired and finally ready for some relaxation back at home.
I’d like to finish by extending a huge, thank you to Callum and his team at Foxlake Adventures for hosting us, and giving us the opportunity to try something exciting and new. Although our visit was on a complimentary basis, all thoughts, opinions and musings contained within this blog are accurate and entirely my own.
Until next time ………….