50 years of adventure and life-changing experiences in beautiful isolation, 1969 – 2019

Ridgway Adventure · About us
The Reasons Why
John Ridgway, April 1970

“What was it that led me to row across the North Atlantic? In a phrase, I wanted to test myself, to establish my own qualities in the face of the severest challenge I could devise. It is a theme which, I suspect, runs through many of the most exacting exercises in human endurance.

In that setting, an open boat in mid-Atlantic, I found myself deeply impressed by the permanence and the simplicity of the challenge posed by sea and sky. The artificial pre-occupations of the world in which most people live were even more remote from my mind than from my body. I felt a keen sense of cleanliness and natural charachter of the problems we faced and a deep contentment to overcome them. I resolved that I would try to share with others both my view of the world and the satisfaction that such experiences have brought me.

The School of Adventure arose from that resolution.

Upon reflection I decided to create a small enclave, a corner of the world where people could experience - genuinely but within the limits imposed by their physical condition and working circumstances - the same direct confrontation with the real world which I find so stimulating and satisfying.

The site I selected for the School is ideal. It is in the North West Highlands of Scotland where the mountains sweep down to the empty Atlantic. Twelve miles south of Cape Wrath there is a sheltered sea loch where, a thousand years ago, the Viking long ships eased through the narrow entrance into the calmer waters beyond.

In the loch itself are seals and otters. In the mountains nearby nest some of the few surviving golden eagles. On the outlying islets live thousands upon thousands of sea birds: guillemots, puffins, razor-bills, kittiwakes and fulmars to mention only a few.

In 1964 Marie-Christine and I found Ardmore, which is three miles from the coastal road. In 1968, we moved there with our daughter Rebecca and faced our first challenge: that of building the School with our own hands without any kind of outside capital or institutional commitment. Our first season was 1969 and ever since then we have steadily improved the facilities and content of the courses.

The theme of every course is the same. To give people an opportunity of throwing off the artificial restraints, demands and worries that preoccupy them for most of their lives and to give them an opportunity of measuring themselves against the sea, the sky and a primitive landscape of great beauty.

The object is not to exhaust people but to allow them to expand against this unique background. Safety is never ignored with an instructor ratio of 1:6 or better, and the simple creature comforts are taken care of. But the main experience is a direct contact between the individual and the real world in which he lives yet seldom sees.

What I have tried to do here is to explain to you the principles upon which the School was founded and-as clearly as I can-exactly what it has to offer those who come to it.

John Ridgway

The John Ridgway School of Adventure
Rhiconich, By Lairg,
Telephone: Kinlochbervie 229“

“I decided to create a small enclave, a corner of the world where people could experience the same direct confrontation with the real world which I find so stimulating and satisfying”