A happy return
20 years after first visiting Firbush as an undergraduate, Dr Sonia Wakelin returned with her young family to the University’s outdoor centre on the banks of Loch Tay.
Firbush Point is a residential outdoor activity centre located eighty miles north of Edinburgh on the south shore of Loch Tay.
It first opened as a university facility in October 1967 and cost approximately £50,000, much of which was funded by grants from the University Appeal Fund.
The building was designed by A.C.M. Forward, a lecturer in the department of architecture, and is based on a ship, with the rooms being referred to as ‘cabins’.
The bunks and wood panelling are genuinely nautical in nature having been reclaimed from the ocean liner RMS Mauretania, which was retired in 1935 and scrapped in Rosyth.
Work and play
It is a spectacular location that sits in the shadow of Ben Lawers, Scotland's tenth highest Munro, and is the setting for both academic work and a wide range of outdoor activities.
It was this combination of work and play that first introduced 1990s medical student, Sonia Wakelin to,
one of the Universities best kept secrets.
During her intercalated pharmacology honours year, head of department, Professor Danny McQueen, arranged a reading party trip as a team building exercise.
We had a fantastic stay taking advantage of the great range of outdoor activities (canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, walking, mountain-biking to name but a few!) during the day, and discussing research work in the evenings.
A family affair
Sonia graduated with MB ChB Bsc Hons in 1997 and continued her medical training in Edinburgh, undertaking a PhD in immunology and then Higher Surgical Training leading to Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons.
She now works as a transplant and general surgeon in Portsmouth but takes every opportunity to return to Scotland, including a trip this summer back to the shores of Loch Tay and the Firbush family.
It was great to see all the familiar faces in Les, the Warden (30 years’ service), Owen, Deputy Warden (27 years) and Rosie, the Housekeeper (25 years). They have not aged a bit! Their friendliness, expertise and sense of humour make Firbush the fabulous place it is. The Firbush ethos is hard to fault and it is the attention to detail that makes it special.
The next generation
Alongside an opportunity to unwind and relax, one of Sonia’s motivations for the return visit was the chance to expose her three children to outdoor activities in a fun, safe environment and share an experience from her university days. The alumni and family discount made the stay excellent value for money.
The centre allows children to develop, giving them plenty of freedom while learning new things all the time. The experience is hard to beat and the children have loved it.
Keen to experience your own Loch Tay adventure? You can find out more about the facilities at Firbush and the alumni discount by following the link below.