Published: 28/07/2017 15:10 - Updated: 28/07/2017 15:18

Speyside Way tribute to sailing school legend

Written byTom Ramage


The new bench in Clive Freshwater's honour
The new bench in Clive Freshwater's honour


Walkers on the newly-extended Speyside Way can now take in its most stunning view in real comfort – with no chance of splinters!

"It looks like wood but it’s plastic, actually," revealed Sally Freshwater as she welcomed her party to the bench overlooking the sailing school which she and her husband founded on Loch Insh back in 1969.

"When it came to dedicating a bench to Clive we did consider wood, since that was his favourite building material, as the watersports centre testifies, but our researches took us to a company called Woodberry of Leamington Spa, who design the kind of outdoor furniture he would approve of – cleverly recycled plastic which looks like and is as sturdy as wood.

"It’s easier to for the centre staff to maintain and it’s good for the environment, as well as all those who enjoy the great outdoors."

Mr Freshwater died in February 2015 and Mrs Freshwater spotted the perfect "Way" for his beloved outdoor types to pay their respects, with a picnic whenever they climbed the hill overlooking the sailing school.

"You should see this view at sunset," she told the gathering. "Even on a dull day like this it’s wonderful, but when the sun goes behind the hill the sky is exquisite as you look right down Loch Insh."

As the plaque says, the bench has been erected "In memory of Clive Freshwater, 1939-2015, whose vision and hard work created Loch Insh Watersports to be enjoyed by everyone".

Friday’s very informal ceremony brought together three generations of the family who have spent nearly 50 years building and developing of one Badenoch’s most attractive tourist attractions, winning several "Oscars" along the way and receiving the praise, in person, of The Princess Royal on opening their visitor centre extension back in the late 1990s.

Mrs Freshwater was joined on the bench by her daughter-in-law Jacalyn and granddaughter Ivy, great family friends Tom and Carol Drysdale and John Anderson of Kincraig, and the centre’s maintenance men who had prepared the ground for the seat which they will be looking after on behalf of the Speyside Wayfarers. Also there was the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s recreation and access manager David Clyne.

After the dedication, it was all back down the hill to a warm and welcome cup of tea.

Mr Freshwater had been one of the driving forces of tourism in Badenoch since the late 1960s and nationally won the historic "Spey Canoe Case" battle in 1969, when the owners of the salmon fishing on the Spey brought a case against Mr Freshwater.

They wanted to ban his two-day canoe trip down the river as, they argued, it disturbed the fishing.

Mr Freshwater won a resounding victory after a lengthy civil trial, an appeal and a hearing at the House of Lords. The triumph protected the public rights of navigable waters, bringing incalculable benefits to the Scottish outdoor industry.

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