Happy Birthday Benmore

Benmore Celebrates its 50th year (and we have found a Head Teacher who has seen a fair few of them!).

Benmore Outdoor Learning Centre first opened her doors to school and community groups in 1967. In that time, the Centre has become an educational institution enjoyed by generations of Edinburgh school children.

Part of the excitement of every child casting their eye on the 1840s house for the first time, is that it could easily resemble ‘Hogwarts’ and a scene from Harry Potter.

Finding someone who has an educational perspective across the entire fifty years is too big an ask but we have come close. One of our most experienced and respected Head Teachers, Lindsey Watt, Castleview Primary School shares her thoughts before retiring next year.

Benmore Birthday, photographs of Graeme Adams and teacher

'My first experience of a primary residential was in 1980, it was then that I was converted to become a life-long believer in the benefits of outdoor learning. Thirty-seven years later, the opportunities offered by Benmore Centre and it’s outstanding teaching team complement the teaching and learning provided by Team Castleview.

'My ‘Castleview’ parents talk fondly of their own time at Benmore and say that it’s one of their happiest school memories.

For our children, the experience of journeying to Dunoon by bus and ferry is as good as a trip round the world.

Their wonder when they lie on their backs and look at the stars, unsullied by light pollution is very moving. At the end of the week they are full of enthusiasm for exercise and Scotland’s scenery and wildlife.'

'My respect for the Team at Benmore is immense. I am grateful to have been given the privilege of taking hundreds of children to such a high quality outdoor learning experience.'

As Lindsey kindly says, there is little doubt the enduring quality of the Centre lies in its people. One of the key features of the Outdoor Learning Team is the number of staff who start as trainees and stay on or return as full time members of staff.

One such example is Graeme Adams who started his career at the Centre as a trainee instructor in 1999. Graeme was inspired to sail around the West Coast of Scotland; and to work as river guide in Nepal and New Zealand. His time in Nepal allowed him to work and paddle with Gerry Moffat a former Benmore trainee himself and now a world renowned adventurer.

Graeme returned to Benmore and developed his career within the Council to become a much respected Operations Manager and specialist in his field.

Graeme states, ‘The opportunity to train at Benmore provided me with the skills, knowledge and confidence to pursue a career in the outdoors.’

Note: Another successful academic year at Benmore saw a total of 4,263 participants, of which 3,281 were from schools and 982 attended adult and weekend courses. The Centre facilitated 42 Edinburgh Primary and 5 Edinburgh Secondary Schools, accompanied by 198 Edinburgh supporting staff.

The Main House is set amongst the Benmore Botanical Gardens and hosts 120 beds. It is complimented by Bernice Farmhouse and Cottage which are currently being refurbished and will soon be ready for booking by schools, groups and holidaymakers wishing to enjoy the spectacular Lock Eck location. Benmore also has a Sail Base at the Holy Loch, leading directly into the Clyde, one of the biggest accessible sailing areas in the UK. For further information, please contact / 01369 706 337.

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