Their dad, Craig, had been a keen and talented orienteer, competing for the army, and it turned out that the boys’ school, Hill of Banchory Primary, ran a club in the sport.
Jake and Alistair were instantly hooked and, eight years later, they are both members of the British age-group squad.
Last year, they helped Banchory Academy win the team title at the World Schools’ Championship, and Jake claimed the gold medal in the middle-distance event.
Both boys – Jake now in sixth year and Alistair in fourth year – have been selected again to represent Scottish schools at this season’s World Championships to be held at Palerno in Sicily from 22-28 April.
Mar Orienteering Club is the driving force behind the success of the sport that involves running and map reading.
Coaches run clubs in all the local primary schools in the Banchory area and there is a strong after-school club at Banchory Academy.
At the recent world schools’ qualifier at Faskally in Pitlochry, Alistair won the senior boys’ title ahead of schoolmate Luke Graham and Banchory Academy twins, Eilidh and Kirsty Campbell, were the top two in the girls’ event.
Jake, who won his first British title aged ten, sums up the special combination of physical and mental ability that orienteering tests.
“I love the challenge of the technical side of map reading and running out into the forest,” said the 16-year-old.
“I do about ten training sessions a week, running, cycling, swimming and also practise the map reading.
“I want to study mechanical engineering at Edinburgh. There is a great orienteering club at the university.”
Alistair will be sitting his National 5 exams this session, but he will also be stepping up his sporting skills.
“This is my first year in the British squad at the 16 years age group and I’m going to step up the intensity in training this winter,” he said. “I’m going to build up my fitness in readiness for the World Schools.”
Fran Getliff is secretary of Banchory Schools Orienteering, and is rightly proud of the area’s success.
“We start in the primary schools with autumn and spring sessions for the Primary 5-7s and there is a Primary School Festival every May,” she explained.
“We continue at the academy and try and encourage the teacher to include orienteering in PE lessons.
“The school project started eight years ago and we have a lot of success. We always do well at the Scottish Schools’ Championship.
“Next month, Joe Wright will be representing Banchory Academy at the British Schools’ Championships in Birmingham.”