By Eilidh Whiteford
Getting out and about, exploring Harris and experiencing a huge range of activities are all guaranteed with a visit to the Scaladale Centre in Ardvourlie, Harris.
Built and run by the Lewis and Harris Youth Club Association (LHYCA), the Centre has been getting young people, and those a little older, outside in the Hebrides for almost two decades – with plenty of exciting opportunities on offer.
“A lot of people who come are surprised by the range and quality of the activities, especially adult groups who comment that they just didn’t know such things were available on the islands,” said Scaladale Chief Instructor Sean Zeihm-Stephen.
“As Scaladale is a social enterprise run on a not-for-profit basis, a booking with us for activities and accommodation help us to keep our prices low and get the young people of Lewis and Harris, and further afield, active and engaged in their environment.
“And we get really good feedback from our users. Groups from away love the island experience and as the Centre is really well situated, most of our activities only take about 10 minutes to get to. Everyone also gives great feedback on the activities we have.”
Watersport activities, including kayaking, coasteering, raft building, gorge scrambling; boat trips, guided walks and mountain biking are on offer during the summer months.
And for other times of year, the Centre boasts a synthetic ice-rink and on-site abseiling, along with bush-craft skills workshops, walking, and, if the weather holds, mountain biking and climbing continue.
Scaladale also offers certified activities like the John Muir Award, GoMTB (mountain bike training) and RYA Sailing; and all activities can be tailored to the needs of individual groups with staff experienced in dealing with all ages and abilities.
Accommodating 28 people, with dining facilities for up to 36, and offering conference/workshop/training base space for up to 60 people, the Scaladale Centre is a prime stop for school groups – and has entertained pupils from Western Isles schools to as far afield as visiting German students.
Sean added: “There are two things in particular I love about this job – the first is the sheer range of young people I get to work with, anything from a group of kids excluded from school to private school pupils.
“The second is sharing how wonderful this island is with people, and getting people out to explore what is all on offer here in the Western Isles. It’s a great feeling!”