“You’re not going to hit it. I promise you. You are definitely not going to hit it.”
Our guide Steve, a constantly cheery Glaswegian, repeats this over and over again. Yet it means nothing to me. All I can focus on is the sharp, jutting rock beneath me, which (apparently) I will DEFINITELY miss if I simply hurl myself off the cliff with enough accuracy.
I’m in Inchree, about 20 minutes from Fort William in Scotland and I’m canyoning. For any of you unsure what that is – watch this:
So, why am I putting myself through this?
Because two months ago I had laser eye surgery, taking me from -6 in both eyes to better than 20/20 vision. Yep, I didn’t know better than 20/20 vision existed either.
I made a vow to myself to try all of the sports and activities that I’d been unable to do when I wore contact lenses. After all, why be £3,000 in debt and undergo surgery if not to throw yourself off a cliff?
So here I am. And it turns out I have a pretty crippling fear of heights. The water part I’m down with. I can swim all day in beautiful waterfalls, clamber about on the rocks behind them and happily fling myself down a rockslide or two.
But the jumps?
The fact that three people have jumped before me and survived doesn’t seem to matter to my (usually) very logical brain.
With a deep breath, on the fourth (maybe fifth?!) attempt I finally take the plunge.
I don’t hit the rock. But I do manage to swallow half the waterfall.
“Well done!” shouts Steve as he throws himself down to join us without a backward glance. “That was just the warm up though.”
It turns out that Inchree’s waterfall consists of three tiers, with three jumps and a zip wire as you make your way down from top to bottom.
It culminates in a 10m (32 ft) jump. That’s the highest legal commercial jump in the UK before insurance no longer covers you.
I scale the rocks and peer over the top.
Quite frankly, I am shitting it.
But I’m not going to let fear beat me and although there is an easier option I could take, I eventually manage to pluck up the courage to jump.
On Steve’s instruction I yell “1,2,3, fuck it!”, as I fall like a sad, deflating balloon to my imminent death.
I don’t die.
But I do forget to keep my legs straight, instead landing in a seat drop position.
I blame my time spent at university in the trampolining club. It must literally have been a natural reaction to falling. But, whatever it was, it bloody hurt.
I have a bruised backside. And legs that look like I’ve been beaten with a piñata stick. Even my left armpit didn’t escape the battering.
But I did it!
You can see my slightly mental face afterwards in the photo above, with my go-to-adventure-buddy Mel.
So, what’s the verdict?
I’m so proud of myself for conquering a fear which I didn’t even know that I had. BUT I WOULDN’T DO THIS AGAIN IF SOMEONE PAID ME!
Usually, after I’m terrified of something and then I manage to complete it, I get a rush of adrenaline that makes the fear worth it. But here, I felt nothing apart from a huge sense of relief that it was over.
I’m definitely the anomaly though. Mel loved every second, as did the French couple we met on the trip. My advice is to give it a go at least once in your life.
What’s the low down?
- We booked with Vertical Descents
- It cost £55 pp and lasted around 2.5 hours
- If you’re staying in Fort William and don’t have a car try and get an afternoon session on Mon-Sat as buses are more frequent during this time
- Remember to pack a towel!
- Take a GoPro if you have one. We weren’t able to capture any photos at all which was a real shame