Easter at Ardmore
Making the most of spring sunshine before wintery storms roll in from the north.
The crofts at Lower Ardmore are our year-round home. Set about a kilometre from the Adventure School along Loch A Chadh-Fi the only access is a 40-minute walk along a footpath or by boat. Embarking on any building work presents a few logistical challenges, something that we all have become familiar with over the last 50+ years here. In a typical year, our summers are chocka-block running courses as Ridgway Adventure. Any maintenance work at Ardmore or the Adventure School must wait until the autumn and winter, working around the tides and the weather (and occasionally a frozen sea loch) to boat materials in and out.
We were not able to run any of our usual school adventure courses or summer camps during 2020. Our way to adapt was to prepare the Wooden House at Ardmore to host household bubbles. Our fully catered adventure holidays worked brilliantly with really keen families. We were able to do this during the latter half of the summer holidays as restrictions eased and then during the October half-term and it was fantastic to have clients here and a small staff team.
The Watchers House
John and Marie-Christine built the Watchers House in 1990. Sitting 100 yards from the shore it was home to the salmon farm manager from where he could ‘watch’ over the two fish farm sites. One that sat beneath the wood at Ardmore and the other in the lee of Survival Island. Latterly it was home to the maintenance man and chief instructor. The salmon cages are long since gone and the sites now farmed for mussels.
With the continued uncertainty we have spent much of the winter renovating the Watchers House for Rebecca’s parents. The hope is that should our usual season be thwarted in 2021, we would have a base for two household bubbles rather than just one.
The white corrugated metal wall cladding which has survived the last 30 years will be replaced with Scottish larch. Our local mussel farmer kindly offered to bring the 2.5 tonnes of timber across the loch. Timing the manoeuvre for calm weather and a high spring tide is a juggling act we wouldn’t want to be doing often in early March.
We have been ferrying smaller and lighter loads across the sea loch ourselves during calm spells. A proper scaffolding system, replacement windows, kitchen worktops, pre-loved kitchen cabinets and a new bath for the downstairs bathroom have all made their way across the loch over the winter months, ready to be installed as the weather allows.
We are doing most of the work ourselves as we must with nearly all of the maintenance work in usual years across the loch at the Adventure School. During a typical season at Ridgway Adventure we talk a lot about the three principles; self-reliance, positive thinking and leaving people and places better than you found them. These are the principles upon which John and Marie-Christine founded the Adventure School in 1969. They are the principles that prepare our young course participants for mountain days and Survival Island. Principles that they can take away and apply to other challenging situations. And they are the principles that we are employing daily at the moment. Weathering storms, managing uncertainty, looking to the future, and constantly looking after the place that is our home.