Longcraig in the press again!

Over the summer, more steam engine hauled special trains have crossed the famous Forth Bridge (the big red one), to a circular tour of Fife and then back to Edinburgh. Three trips as usual, attract a huge amount of publicity, photographers, and the like on their journeys.

Inevitably, many of the passengers get a great view of Longcraig from their trip across the bridge, and equally inevitably, a number of photo opportunities also included glimpses of our Centre nestled close to the Forth Bridge. And Longcraig pier itself, provides an excellent vantage point for viewing the steam trains for the many hundreds of people who are NOT on board!

And, the new Forth Bridge Visitor Experience Centre has taken steps forward in it’s planning – watch out in the press for further developments and the opportunity to walk up and over the Big Red Bridge!

Also, over the summer, there have been numerous reports of sightings of a striped dolphin in the Firth of Forth. No photos yet, but these dolphins are much less common than the usual varieties that sometimes get seen in the Forth, you can learn more about them here as this report in Wikipedia shows.  

    Longcraig Road update 

    Following a recent enquiry to our local councillors, we have been advised that the road repairs to the Longcraig road are scheduled to take place ‘in mid September’. Not sure if that’s when the work will start, when it will finish, or if it will all be over in a flash! Anyway, much more positive news than anything else! So, for those of you afraid to take your car along the road (that’s probably most of us…..) it’s great news! 

    RE-OPENING of Longcraig – Latest update 

    The relaxation of the lockdown rules which came out in mid August now removes most of the barriers that were in place and which were preventing us from opening up fully to provide activities for young people. 

    However, mid-August comes only two weeks ahead of the point where we are unable to offer evening activity sessions (if you look out your window any time after about 8.30pm you’ll find it’s nearly dark already!) so at most we would only be able to operate over some (not all) of the weekends in September. Tides and lack of water at the wrong times impacts on this too! 

    So, we’ve taken the view, reluctantly, that we will utilise what is left of this season to remain focussed on training and refreshing the staff and instructors in the Longcraig ASU who help with the running of our activities, rather than trying to squeeze in what would only be a small number of activity sessions before the winter close down. We will of course be continuing this training activity through October and possibly into November with a mix of water based and land based activity – we can do this for experienced people because they are better prepared for colder or wetter weather conditions at this time of the year. 

    Watching the sun go down on a very quiet summer at Longcraig! 

    The good news is that we have relatively little ‘winter maintenance’ to do this year because we have managed to cover a lot of this during the long period of lockdown, and especially over this summer when we have been able to open up the Centre a little bit.

    So the indications are that we will be off to a flying start in 2022 and hope for a long and busy and active season once again (like what we used to do!) 

    Planning ahead for 2022

    At this time of year, we start to look ahead to next summer. In additional to ‘just opening up again’ we recognise that many groups may have additional things they would like to consider or plan in around our facilities or skills. 

    So, perhaps your Group is thinking about a Family Day Out? Perhaps you are planning a special camp somewhere that we could come and provide some water activities? Perhaps you would like to get some folks onto a proper training course whether for a qualification, or a proficiency badge, or part of a staged badge scheme? Or perhaps you want to take your Group Executive team out for a day or evening and do something different? Maybe you have some members who have been particularly disadvantaged by the COVID lockdowns, and would benefit from a parent/child opportunity – we can provide this as an on the water experience for them. 

    We can help with any or all of these things – but they need forward planning! 

    If you are having any inklings of thoughts in this direction, please get in touch with us over the next few weeks as we also start to put our calendars and diaries together. The earlier we can get involved, the better we can plan our support for your event! 

    Come and visit the local seals in the Firth of Forth.

    Longcraig Team supports Pink Panther Explorer Unit:

    At the beginning of August, we ran an all-day event over at West Wemyss Bay in Fife for the Pink Panthers Explorers. The Explorers were camping at Wemyss Firs so the location was only 10 minutes walk (5 minutes by mini bus) from the camp site. 

    As with all offsite activities this required a little more planning and effort to make it all happen (including the operating procedures and risk assessments). Backed up by a transport team which hauled a trailer of kayaks from Longcraig across to Fife, and back later, three of the Longcraig instructor team delivered three kayak sessions for 36 Explorers and leaders. The three groups were of different ages and skills, both of which started at the older/more skilled end and reduced over the day. The first group contained some of the Duke of Edinburgh Explorers who had been working with Steve Hankin (the LSC Explorer Leader) on canoe skills and they suddenly had the Eureka moment when they worked out that some of the paddle skills from canoes transfer to a kayak!! 

    All three groups  had the delight of seeing at very close quarters (and maybe too close) the seal pups that were being very inquisitive as they left the rocks to see what strange creatures were approaching! 

    Left image: Briefing session on shore.                                 Right image: Wemyss Bay – scenic paddling location. 

    Pink Panther Wemyss Bay

    Building refurbishment 

    The planned building improvements for Longcraig, which involve modernising toilets, showers and changing facilities, is still going ahead in Autumn 2022 as previously intimated. 

    So, we’ve done some patch work to keep the existing facilities operational, and at present there are still limits on how much we can use these internal facilities, due to the need for ongoing COVID good practice, so we’ve had to take that into account as well. 

    The close down time, and also the limited activities that we have done this year, have led to a need for further consideration of what our needs are in the future, so the plans are being re-assessed to ensure they are future-proofed. 

    This, coupled with the current shortages of building materials, and the number of building contractors that are ‘very busy’ is indicating to us that we will have a need to look at additional funding to boost up that already committed by the Regional Executive. We’ve also got some new opportunities to consider alternative means for heating and lighting and servicing the improved facilities, so that’s all been rolled into the picture too. 

    So, Summer 2022 will see the same Longcraig as before, then we will dismantle and rebuild over the Winter of 2022 to have our shiny new facility up and running for Spring 2023. We’ll arrange a ‘Farewell Old Toilets’ party at the end of our 2022 season!!