First, the girls are schooled in the skills needed to tackle a mini-off-road driving course. Graham and I sit it out – we'd not miss the girls' looks of concentration for the world. Their transport comes from a fleet of half-scale series 1 Land Rovers, specially made for the hotel.
The dinky vehicles have forward and reverse gears and accelerator and braking is undertaken by a single pedal.
The course in chestnut woods is only tackled by the girls once they have proven they have picked up the necessary skills on the flat. The mini-obstacle course requires the same skills used by adults when they tackle the full-sized 4 x 4 courses.
The girls are given one-on-one coaching from William and Duncan, who are extremely personable, calm and well versed in the art of teaching young ones. Both girls relish the challenges of the balance seesaw and the water splash. The girls manage very well considering this is their very first taste of motorised driving and receive a pretty impressive certificate to mark their achievements.
Our next family challenge is a gun dog lesson. We are introduced to several of the nine labradors that the hotel has on site. Duncan explains what we need to do to maintain control of the dogs. Voice and tone are as important as the movements or whistles you give. We manage to make the playful labradors, Max, Millie and Cobra, obey our instructions to sit and stay, as well as mark prey, in this case dummies or fake pheasants. We also learn how to send them to retrieve items, and experiment with calling them back or redirecting them.
We try to make it fun for the dogs, although really it must be pretty boring for them to train humans all the time. Cobra cooled down by leaping into the swan pond, on command of course, before heading back to the doghouse.
I was quite taken with the kennels – central heating, state of the art security system and a dog bed almost the size of a single bed. I suspect there may even be five-star food in the bowl.
The challenges were over, but we had enjoyed a memorable experience.
Impressed by both the skilled and friendly staff, as well as the wide range of activites on offer, it had been a grand day out.
• A junior off-road session costs from 69pp; a gundog lesson costs from 69pp. All activities must be booked in advance and may have age restrictions. Please check with www.gleneagles.com or call The British School of Falconry and Gundog School, tel: 01764 694347. Special family rates are available.