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The Aigas Field Centre

Exploring The Highlands -- In Child-Size Bites

The Aigas Field Centre's Holidays Bring Children Closer To Nature
and Families Closer To Each Other

BY JANET CRANE BARLEY

From the time I was very young, I dreamed of seeing the world. I planned to start with Britain because I was fascinated by the literature, the landscape and the history. And I assumed I spoke the same language. After my first trip, I found so many reasons to go back that I ignored more exotic lands and returned year after year to the British Isles.

After I got home from one of my trips to Scotland, Maura, my six-year-old granddaughter, listened to my travel stories. Then she asked me to take her there some day. I was thrilled! She'd inherited my wanderlust. Now to find a really special way to introduce her to Scotland.

I heard of "Nature's Child", the perfect trip for us, while I was in Scotland. I was exploring the Western Isles on a small group tour organized by Aigas Field Centre, which is based near Beauly in the Scottish Highlands. Aigas is best known for its weeklong residential programs where guests -- led by knowledgeable, enthusiastic and caring rangers -- explore the diverse landscape of the wild Highlands.

Most of my traveling companions had been to at least one Aigas-based program and told me about their great experiences. They assured me that we'd enjoy Aigas's "Nature's Child" holiday. And they were right. It was even better than I expected. The annual holiday is based on Sir John Lister-Kaye's book, Nature's Child, which is his meditation on fatherhood and the delights of sharing nature with his youngest daughter, as well as memories of his own childhood joys of nature discovery.

The summer Maura was 12, she and I set off on our journey. We spent a few days in Edinburgh, then went on to Inverness where on a Saturday in July an Aigas ranger in a green minivan picked us up outside the train station. We headed over the Kessock Bridge, drove along the edge of the Black Isle then followed the scenic A831 beside the Beauly River to our destination

The full text of this article is available in the Spring 2014 issue of Scottish Life.

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