Event took place in Scotland.
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Cairngorms National Park

Loch Insh

Green Space Dark Skies is all about Rights, Relationships and Responsibilities.

Clive Freshwater, founder of Loch Insh Outdoor Centre, fought a legal battle to fight for the rights of everyone to be able to use Scotland’s waterways. Once he had won that case, he created opportunities for everyone to enjoy the outdoors in the Cairngorms.

We teamed up with his son, Jonny Freshwater, and his team to continue his dad’s legacy and to introduce hundreds of Lumenators to experience the outdoors. Throughout the full day of activities, Lumenators could try sailing, canoeing, paddleboarding, building a raft, archery or tubing, forest bathing, foraging or watching a Virtual Reality immersive experience to escape to virtual worlds.

Event Notebook

A young Lumenator crouching by their geolight

Nature refers to many aspects of the physical landscape, including plants, animals, the landscape itself. Studies explain how we can think of three levels of engagement with nature: viewing nature (through window, book, television); being in the presence of nature; active participation in nature. Nature includes green spaces (vegetation) and ‘blue spaces’ referring to the visible surface waters of lakes, rivers and coastal water.

Our writer, Merryn Glover, and one of our musicians, Willie Campbell, held a workshop a few months before our event. We invited Colourful Heritage and ANSAR (All Nation Sports Arts Recreation) to come and learn about the history of the K6 unit, the soldiers from South Asia who fought alongside Britain in World War Two and whose soldiers even camped on the beach at Loch Insh.

After learning all about their connection to the local landscape, they explored the natural habitat, encouraged by Merryn to write words and Willie who set their words to music, creating a song.

They all agreed the chorus between them – this place is yours, this place is mine. The song was then performed live at the event by The Dalmar Chorus and is also the soundtrack to the film.

This Place

Music by Willie Campbell

Lumenators jumping into the water of the loch

The origins of the Loch Insh music begin in a workshop at the outdoor center. Merryn Glover took young people from the ANSAR group into the forest and asked them to focus on each of their senses. The thoughts and feelings were written down and arranged into a song. The chorus line “this place is yours, this place is mine” seemed like a good place to ground the synth line and a fitting sentiment to anchor this piece of music too.

Willie Campbell

On the day, everyone was invited to enjoy whatever activities they were interested in. Some of the Special Needs Action Project were so keen to try going out on the water so we partnered them with Equal Adventure, who specialise in offering water sports for everyone, to ensure the Lumenators got to safely try new things and appreciate the outdoors.

Some more of our Lumenators were Ukrainian and loved seeing what Scotland had to offer out on the water, while others preferred to escape to our Dark Skies Dome, dressed by local visual artist, Claire MacDonald, to watch a show by Roman Rappak of Miro Shot. Within the dome, the audience could put on a VR headset and see Scotland from a different point of view, flying over stunning landscapes and considering the value of renewable energy. Those that enjoyed the calmness of the VR experience also appreciated the forest bathing and foraging, but others preferred to go out on the water and take on some of the challenging sports on offer.

Hill walkers follow the path towards the summit of Meall-a-Buachille, the cairngorms national park. The walkers are surrounded by orange and yellow shrubbery with a backdrop of trees.

About the Cairngorms National Park

Established on 1 September 2003, the Cairngorms National Park is the largest National Park in the UK, at 4,528 square kilometers (1,748 sq miles).  Located in the Scottish Highlands, the Cairngorms is home to 18,000 people living in the numerous towns and villages in the Park, covering the areas of Aberdeenshire, Angus, Highland, Moray, Perth and Kinross.

Each year, around two million people visit the Cairngorms National Park from all over the world. The Park is one of the best places in the UK to stargaze due to the low levels of light pollution, and the Tomintoul and Glenlivet area was awarded the much-coveted ‘International Dark Sky’ status in 2018. The area also offers watersports and snowsports, and is home to four of the five highest mountains in the UK, 55 Munros (mountains), nine National Nature Reserves and 12 golf courses.

A stronghold for many rare and endangered species, the Cairngorms National Park contains one quarter of Scotland’s native forest; one third of UK land above 600 metres; more breeding farmland waders than the whole of Wales; the largest population of Twinflower plants in Scotland and 80% of the UK’s population of Capercaillie. It houses some of Scotland’s largest, more natural habitats and the country’s most ambitious, landscape-scale nature conservation action.

We’d like to thank all the groups who participated:

  • 2nd Coatbridge Explorer Scouts & Andy Wilson
  • ANSAR (All Nations Sports Arts Recreation)
  • Cairngorms School of Dance
  • Colourful Heritage
  • Special Needs Action Project, Inverness
  • Ukrainian Guests & their Host Families

Thanks to our partners who supported this event:

  • Loch Insh Outdoor Centre
  • Cairngorms National Park Authority
  • RSPB
  • Visit Cairngorms
  • Nature Scot
  • Equal Adventure

Photography by Eilidh Cameron