At McConks, we put a lot of effort into choosing what company we keep. We’re rightly proud of our gear, and we want to see it be used in the most inspirational of environments, by people who share our passion for the water environment, and by instructors and guides giving the very best introduction to paddleboarding.
When we were looking for our Scottish partner, we were spoiled for choice. SUP feels even fresher in Scotland than it does in England and Wales, and some of the criticisms levelled at some companies and SUP communities in the UK (particularly the South) don’t seem to apply; elitist, cliquey, ego driven, arrogant. Maybe it’s the inspirational environment, maybe it’s in the water, maybe it’s just Scottish nature. But whatever it is, we could have had beautiful demo centres all over Scotland, run by the most fantastic people. And tempting as it was to do just that, we want to make sure we can provide the very best service to our partner companies, and so we have to choose just one.
And the one that we chose is very special indeed. It’s also a small company, but with some very exciting things going on this year.
Outdoor Explore, based in Perthshire is an exciting company, that up until this year has focussed on kakaying tours and rentals in the beautiful central lowlands and parts of the highlands, covering Striling, Blairgowrie, Pitlochry, Dundee, Perth, Edinburgh and the Lothians, and everywhere in between!
Like so many others, Outdoor explore has fallen for the charms of standup paddle boarding, and will be offering SUP tours and rentals in 2017 alongside the kayak ones.
They have a passion for the outdoors and for getting people on the water. They only run small groups, so everyone gets the very best of attention and coaching. And the trips range suitable to total novices to advanced paddlers, so everyone is covered.
And if you want to try mountain biking or bouldering, then you can pop into their new shop and tourist information centre in Alyth. They’ve spent the winter, along with their partner company Alyth Bikes converting an old church into an outdoor retail shop, information centre, café, and bouldering wall. So whether you just want advice about where to paddle, climb, bike or walk, need to top up your rations, fancy a go at bouldering, of just want to shelter from the rain, the Barony will give you a very warm welcome.
And who better to act as a demo centre for us? Combining our 2017 lineup of inflatable paddleboards with Outdoor Explore’s stunning backdrop and excellent supervision, you can try out our kit in the best of hands (and views!). With a number of different locations available, you’ll need to contact Piotr at Outdoor Explore to arrange a suitable date, time and location. And the best part? If you buy a McConks board within 28 days of your demo session, we’ll refund the cost of the session and throw in free next day delivery.
Here’s a selection of the places that Outdoor Explore can take you to…
Loch of Clunie
The deep, dark and silly waters of Loch Clunie are located just 4 miles west of Blairgowrie. You can explore some of Scotland’s oldest history at Loch Clunie. On the shore near the village of Clunie lies the remains of an old castle, once used by Kenneth MacAlpin, the first king of Scotland in the ninth Century as far back as 843, as a base for hunting in the Forest of Clunie. On a small island (formerly a crannog) in the loch stand the remains of Clunie Castle, a tower house of the Bishops of Dunkeld. The last pre-Reformation bishop, Robert Crichton, passed the property to his near relative, Robert Crichton, Lord Advocate of Scotland.
The Firth of Tay
Broughty (pronounced brotty) is great place to learn or improve your paddling skills. There did used to be a ferry, but the Tay Bridge made this redundant years ago. This handsome town to the east of Dundee is a great place to paddle from (and finish up having a fantastic hostelry to refresh yourself in). The trip starts by Broughty Castle (free to visit!), built in 15th century as a coastal fort and currently used as a museum. The castle has a fascinating history and has been the scene of many skirmishes between the Scots, the English and the French. And the last inglorious battle against the English the French and Scots army sent the English homewards (maybe even ‘tae think agin’). On this stunning paddle you will see castles, lighthouses, handsome towns, and a lot of nature. Birders will see much to interest them, and in the waters around the stunning Tentsmuir forest you may see grey and harbour seals (who haul out for pupping on the beaches of Tentsmuir) and bottlenose dolphins.
largest loch in Perthshire, with an easy access point located at the east shore, in Kenmore. Loch is nearly 24km long, with eighteen crannogs. Most of these are now submerged but a large crannog near the northern shore at Kenmore can be clearly seen. And there’s nothing more exciting that paddling around an island! This crannog was the ancient burial place of Queen Sybilla, wife of Alexander King of Scots. Be inspired by stunning views of Beinn Ghlas (1103m) and Ben Lawers (1214m) and, and the surrounding hills provide a classic, Highland horizon, best experienced at sunset or sunrise!
Inspired? Then contact Piotr at Outdoor explore https://www.outdoorexplore.org.uk/
If you want find out more about our other demo centres just drop us a line, or give us a call (+44 7387 383243). We’ll find the one closest to you, or arrange a demo for you.
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