Happy 50th Lagganlia!
An evening wander up Calton Hill in Edinburgh’s city centre can give you a perspective on the city’s long standing interest in providing access to outdoor environments for health and wellbeing. David Hume’s vision to provide the city with such a public space was continued in 1965 by George Boyd Anderson, an environmentalist who was instrumental in the establishment of the Hillend ski slope. Boyd Anderson’s vision to extend these adventures outside the city was brought to fruition in 1968 when he helped to fund the purchase of an unused croft in the Northern Cairngorms known as Lagganlia. The following two years saw a small team led by the future Principal John Paisley construct the initial buildings of what would become Lagganlia Outdoor Centre. The Centre was formerly opened on June 30th, 1970 by HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.
The City of Edinburgh Council is delighted to announce Lagganlia’s 50th Birthday! Today it forms part of the Council’s Sport and Outdoor Learning Unit providing residential opportunities and outdoor learning support alongside its sister centres; Benmore in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park and Edinburgh’s city-based centre at Bangholm. The Council is proud of its centres and is committed to delivering lifelong memories and outcomes via skilled staff through wild experiences in Scotland’s national parks. Lagganlia’s future bookings are as busy as ever; planning to deliver school residential experiences all year round from the second week in January to the second week in December.
In its 50 years of adventure Lagganlia has seen four ‘Principals’, over a hundred instructors and normally welcomes four and half thousand young people per year. It still seeks to offer the key ingredient of any adventure; “The Unknown” to all that walk through its doors. At one time these unknowns were simply recognised as the experience of being outside of Edinburgh and journeying into the wild lands of the Cairngorms. Today these unknowns start with an unfamiliar menu, a different bed, a temporary Lagganlia family and a contrasting environment with new views including mountains, new smells and a break from the noises of a busy city. The catering and house team at Lagganlia are vitally important in delivering these adventures, making sure people feel welcomed and well looked after.
Each week throughout the year Lagganlia plays host to its new adventurers from over forty Edinburgh schools. The adventures build on the outdoor learning opportunities provided by Edinburgh schools by extending them to locations, habitats and wilderness that are simply not accessible from staying at home. From its early days of fieldwork and skiing, our young visitors to Lagganlia can now journey into the wilderness by foot, bike, skis, canoe, kayak, sailing boat, dinghy, raft and duckie. Whilst in the wild, they can rock climb, gorge walk, orienteer, snowboard or simply sit and be immersed in the wilderness of the Cairngorms. Images of these adventures can be seen on school walls throughout the city, with memories and stories now passed down into the third generation of young adventurers. A visual reminder can be found by searching out the CBBC TV programme Raven, where the latest series was filmed in Lagganlia’s grounds and surrounding area. Schools can build their curriculum around a visit to Lagganlia through substantial pre and post visit learning. This adds significant value to curriculum outcomes.
It is important that every Edinburgh young person can visit a centre like Lagganlia; to build lifelong memories, make new friends, experience a different environment, apply existing and new skills and to relax and have fun! Our Friends of Lagganlia charity works tirelessly in providing financial support and the Sport and Outdoor Learning Unit continues to liaise with schools to help our young people to attend.
Its own survival through fifty years of journeying has been like the river Feshie that creates Lagganlia’s border; calm in the pools and epic in the rapids. Its current stability is supported by the Council’s continued commitment to high quality residential experiences as indicated by its decision for recent capital works investment, Lagganlia’s dedicated staff, its reputation as a high-quality provider of outdoor learning and its commercial operation that allows all its self-catering accommodation to be privately booked at weekends and school holidays. Access to this can be found be visiting www.experienceoutdoors.org.uk. All income is reinvested into Lagganlia’s core purpose of young people experiencing the wild outdoors!
Due to the current Coronavirus pandemic and national guidance, Lagganlia is in a state of hibernation and reflection. This is being continuously reviewed. Celebrations and acknowledgements are therefore being stored away for its 51st party instead. The wild lands of the Cairngorms are slowly returning to the well-trodden paths and activity areas which is allowing some well needed recovery. All its imaginative staff have been scouring maps, sharing ideas, and making plans for new adventures. They have also contributed to the development of guidance and training for colleagues in Edinburgh. When the time is right Lagganlia is very much looking forward to journeying once more into its wild back yard with the young adventurers of Edinburgh.
Happy 50th Birthday Lagganlia.