One of the original aims of our community woodland ownership was to encourage locals and visitors to spend more time being physically active in our beautiful Highland environment. There have been lots of examples of more people being more active more often in Abriachan over the past sixteen years. This has been particularly evident recently thanks to the Highland LEADER 2007-2013 funded Life Cycles project. Thanks to this funding we have three full-time activity leaders who have brought a wide range of new skills to our outdoor learning activities. Roni, Yvonne and Graig are all Forest School trained but with canoeing, climbing,fly fishing, mountain biking, team building, some Gaelic and archery strings to their bows....if you'll pardon the pun. During the lifetime of LifeCycles we supported in total 2,813 extra people who benefited from Life Cycles more than was anticipated. (1445 children & 1368 adults)These included holiday clubs, individuals and groups of adults with various vulnerabilities, young people who have been identified as at risk, looked after children and families in need. One important aspect of the project was to ensure its sustainability and, so far, we have continued the services offered and maintained the activity leader team, gaining Adventurous Activities Licensing certification in the process.

The facilities have also been extended with an archery area being set up, a toxic swamp with assorted challenges, orienteering courses on both sides of the property, a beginners' crag, raft building and a canoe. These options are available to all our pupils and groups providing a health and wellbeing agenda enjoyed by everybody.

Over the past few years we have delivered successful outdoor sessions to adults who have challenging mental health and this has been developed into running the Forestry Commission's Branching Out pilot with NHS Highland. It is hoped that we can replicate this in other areas of Highland and have more Branching Out leaders trained elsewhere.

Claire Henderson and her helpers from the NHS Diabetes Support Group arranged a mountain bike relay race, barbecue and get together for families. There were 13 teams of two who cycled round the green Kelpies' trail as often as possible in the space of an hour.

This little boy is only 4 years old and managed the 3km circuit three times!

...and the orienteers used the purple windows....

The eastern area of the new orienteering map was tested during the weekend of September 8th - 9th. Over 150 orienteers took to the hills where six different courses were set - from easier yellow to increasingly difficult brown and blue. This mapping by Jon Musgrave was funded by Highland LEADER Project 2007 - 2013 as an element of the Life Cycles programme. INVOC (Inverness Orienteering Club) contributed to the print run for the waterproof maps on the day and the family White organised the logistics.

Rowan getting a flying start.

Please remember if you are walking along the Great Glen Way and a log lorry is loading DO NOT WALK patient and wait until the operator acknowledges that he has seen you, otherwise a large log might be accidentally dropped on your head.

All the bike trails are open and have seen lots of use over the past few weeks. The Scottish Cross Country race in April was successfully organised by Ben Wyvis Cycle Club and received very positive feedback...despite the dreich day. All efforts were made to minimise the impact on local residents by making sure all parking for over 200 competitors was kept to the Rivoulich road verge....apologies about the long walk in spectators!

LEADER funding for the Life Cycles project has meant that we have had the whole area mapped for orienteering and also have some smaller sections mapped for fixed O courses and a learning trail thanks to Apex receiving finds from Forestry for People. These are being tested by our local experts at present - ready for action in the autumn.

The Life Cycles funding from Highland LEADER 2007 - 2013 has also funded archery leaders and angling leaders. These have resulted in a wider range of physical activity being offered to many forest users.

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