On the first night, sitting around the campfire, I start to get an idea why Comrie Croft mountain biking centre is a success. The clue is in the distant flicker of other campfires dotted around an extensive birch woodland on a hillside above a valley. There is a sense of space: the fires are far enough away from one another to muffle conversation and laughter, but close enough for a neighbour to wander over with the offer of a tool to cut firewood, or simply to chat. It feels wild but well-managed. A string of geese flying across the moon is the loudest noise, punctuated by the calls of owls and snipe. We have just arrived. We don’t even have our bikes yet, but the magic has started.
Next morning, we meet Scott, our guide and tutor. I’m with my daughter, Maddy (13), and a friend’s son, Fred (14). My mission is to convince these two teenagers that mountain biking is fun and worth pursuing. Neither has done much of it before. Both are wary and I am apprehensive. Scott doesn’t realise it, but what happens next could be decisive.