“Oh, I wouldn’t have thought of Dundee as a place to do outdoor activities!”, said more than one person when I told them about my up and coming Scotlanders blog project in Dundee. Admittedly, I wouldn’t have picked Dundee as an outdoorsy destination either, which is exactly why I wanted to cover this theme for our debut campaign. Myself and my fellow Scotlanders (five other travel bloggers in Scotland on a collaborative mission to travel the country and promote all of the best/unique bits) agreed that one of our key objectives is to challenge perceptions and show off the unexpected treasures in our homeland. Dundee is the underdog of Scottish cities, often overshadowed by Edinburgh and Glasgow. It was the perfect place to start.
The plan of attack looked a little something like this:
– a mini ski sesh on a dry ski slope
– power boating and/or sailing
– a spot of archery
* please note, these activities were all – of course – weather dependent. More on that later…
Now, who on earth would agree to let The (coordinately challenged) Chaotic Scot loose in the Dundee outdoors?! The answer is the Ancrum Outdoors Centre, who kindly offered to host myself and Scotlander Neil (Locomotion Scotland) for the afternoon. I’m not sure Derek, the Outdoor Learning Manager, knew what he’d let himself in for!
How did I get on?
The Ancrum Outdoor Centre is located in an old schoolhouse on Ancrum Road and is the central hub for outdoor activities in Dundee. Just a short drive from the city centre, the publicly funded centre offers 32 different activities, from water sports to snow sports to mini Highland games.
During the academic year, the centre predominately focuses on outdoor learning activities for secondary schools, offering pupils one activity day per week as well as full outdoor programmes to join during the school holidays. Such activities are proven to develop communication skills, confidence and team work. What a great initiative!
Ancrum Outdoor Centre is in a prime location for land or water-based adventures, with numerous green areas nearby and both the River Tay and the Grampian Mountains within close reach of the city. Plus, if you’re after something really close, there’s always the dry ski slope in the back garden!
Both complete ski novices, myself and Neil were so concerned about our performance on the slope that we both managed to put our ski helmets on (quite obviously) backwards. We did a rather wonky walk in our ski boots round the back of the centre to the slope and listened carefully to Derek’s expert instructions. There were a couple of interesting interpretations of the ski moves on our descent, but overall we were quick learners apparently! SUCCESS. The slope is a fantastic resource, and paired with Derek’s patient and coherent approach, is the perfect introduction to skiing for all ages.
It seems strange to me that the centre doesn’t attract more locals and visitors to Dundee. Derek agrees, “Sometimes it’s like it’s Dundee’s best kept secret”. Custom activity days can be organised for groups, and would be brilliant for birthdays, stag/hen parties or groups of friends looking for something fun and different to do. As well as the catalogue of activities to choose from, there’s also a range of equipment available for hire at very reasonable prices, including ski equipment. This is deliberate strategy to make outdoor activities accessible to all. I like that a lot.
A short drive from the Outdoor Centre is an indoor archery range at Clatto Barn. Having not tried archery since school camp in Primary 6, I didn’t have high hopes for myself. My initial attempts were pretty poor to say the least, but with some positive reinforcement and guidance from Derek I was soon hitting the target rather than the wall behind it. I became quickly addicted to the activity, eager to improve on my previous shot. Unleashing our competitive streaks, myself and Neil engaged in a three-shot challenge to see who could get the highest score. I was beat by one point! Neil 12 – 11 Kay.
That’s not a boat, that’s a delicious looking pile of crispy cakes.
This is the section where I should be telling you all about our water-based adventures from Broughty Ferry. While ‘Sunny Dundee’ certainly lived up to its name, the gail force winds that day would’ve made for a most unpleasant experience on the water, so the sensible decision was made to abandon our plans.
We opted for an tastebud exercise activity involving lunch and a compulsory cake at Jessie’s Kitchen. I would say this went some way in compensating for the lack of sailing.
Back in the City
After all that excitement, I definitely needed a wee walk to clear my head, and my conscience from eating so much cake! I also wanted to capture the city from above.
Camperdown Country Park
Just a 10 minute drive from the city centre, the country park is the sort of place my parents would’ve had to drag me out of as a child. With plenty of grassy expanse to run around, amazing play parks and a Wildlife Centre, it’s the perfect city escape for families. For me, it was an opportunity to potter around and relax.
Edinburgh’s best views are from our bits of leftover volcano, and the same goes for Dundee. Perched at 572 ft, The Law shows off impressive 360 degree views of the city. Those with ample time and energy can reach the top by foot starting at Dudhope Park, however I had neither. What I did have however was fellow Scotlander Nicola (FunkyEllas Travel) to take me to the top in the comfort of her car. Happy days!
Out of the City
To find scenery which looks like this…
… head on over to Scotlander Neil’s post about the Angus Glens here.
What did the other #Scotlanders get up to?
Susanne got a taste of Dundee’s Food & Drink – find out how she got on here.
Dougie checked out a couple of impressive ships – you can read his post here.
Nicola discovered Dundee as a family destination – read her tips here.
Kim explored culture and design in the city – find out more here.
The #Scotlanders are the first travel blogger collaboration in Scotland, bound together by a shared desire to uncover the very best and most unusual parts of our country, sharing it with audiences far and wide.