Work

Wintery spring

Lucy

Lucy: I've been back in the UK for a month and I have to say, it's been a bit colder than I expected!  When I left France I was longing for a bit of green and some proper Scottish spring flower after a winter of monochrome but what I got was the Minibeast from the East, and then the Easter Beast. I'm a bit disappointed to say the least!  This is me camping in the peak district last weekend, working for Adventure Expeditions.  It was cold. Very cold.  Amazing work by the young people completing their Gold Practice in these conditions! 

Anyway, today there was a lull in proceedings. Client Carole came over with her camera to enjoy some of the best of Arran's wildlife. As always, it was dramatic, but made us work hard for our sightings.  We got a soaring golden eagle having a bust up with kestrels and buzzards,  and then later a couple of otters braving the rough seas. The icing on the cake for me was a male and female hen harrier quartering the moors above the Ross Road. As usual, I failed to take any photos of the wildlife, but I did get a few of Arran looking spectacular in her wintery spring garb. Just in time to make me feel bad about heading back to France at the weekend! Adieu Arran, see you when spring is a bit more sprung. 

 

Goatfell
Glen Rosa

Work and Play in the Peak District

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Lucy: Things are getting quieter here on Arran and as usual November is the month that we can catch up with ourselves and begin our winter preparation. With less work in the diary and the nights drawing in, it can be hard to keep active at this time of year, and this is one of the few periods when I have to consciously push myself outside to exercise. After a busy year it is of course good to rest, but we also have one eye on winter, a time when we need to be at our fittest! Last weekend I was working on a Lowland Leader Training for Adventure Expeditions all the way down in the Peak District so we both decided to head south and add a bit of rest and relaxation on to the trip in the form of riding bikes and rock climbing as well as spending time with friends.

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With a cold wind forecast on Thursday, we headed to Rivelin Edge for some rock climbing. The crag is sheltered and south facing so it was agood choice. It is also relatively quick to dry, which was a bonus as the day started damp. Some of the greener crack climbs stayed slimey all day, but we enjoyed some delicate face climbing. It's a long time since either of us have played on grit so Wally was very happy with his lead of Left Edge (HVS 4c).

The Peak District is also a great place for road cycling, and we enjoyed a spin amongst the showers, with obligatory cake stops on friday, and Wally who is keen as mustard on the bike,  was out and about on his bike while I was working over the weekend.

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The Lowland Leader Award is a Mountain Training walking and leadership award for people taking groups out in lowland terrain in the UK.  It's part of the Mountain Training leadership pathway and benefits from a structured training and assessment process, with candidate experience consolidated and recorded along the way. Our friends at Adventure Expeditions are providers of this excellent award and this is the first Lowland Leader Training course that I have worked on and I can't wait to do more. Training future leaders is an interesting and rewarding process!

Winter News and 2018 Bookings

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The first snow is dusting the summit of Goatfell, and on the mainland, the hills are starting to look genuinely wintery. With the change of season, it is time to update our clients and friends with our winter availability and accordingly,  announce some big news about our own plans.

In short, we will be spending much of the season in the French Alps!  This is obviously very exciting from a personal perspective, but will have a knock on effect for clients for which we are very sorry. We won't be available for bookings from the 10th December until early March.  Wally is expecting to be staying out in France until the end of April but Lucy will be back to grab some proper Scottish winter fun from the beginning of March. She already has bookings for winter mountain work on the mainland and is taking bookings for mainland winter munros throughout March. However,  if you are keen for Arran wildlife watching or an Arran mountain day in March it is still worth getting in touch to check availability.

Looking ahead to Summer 2018 (May onwards), we will start taking bookings for these dates in the New Year.  We realise that this may be a little frustrating for those of you who wish to get in early with bookings and appreciate that we book up fast, but this is due to the large amount of schools/contract work that we do.  This can block up weeks at a time, and is an important part of our work which we enjoy very much.  Sadly we don't yet have these dates firmed up, and would absolutely hate to take your booking and then cancel you further down the line. We hope you understand that your bookings are just as important to us and would be delighted to hear from you in the mean time to chat about options and ideas for your day out on Arran.

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Finally, we hope you are looking forward to winter as much as we are.  It's a brilliant time for watching wildlife and getting out in to the hills.  Don't forget your head torch as the nights are drawing in, and pop a few extra layers in the bag!

Lucy and Wally.

Two out of Three Aint Bad.

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Lucy: I was out yesterday with Jonathan, who is on Arran prepping for an forthcoming marathon, and who fancied a bit of cross-training in the hills. 

We'd planned to do The Three Beinns, but as is often the case at the moment, the Garbh Allt was a bit high, and we were keen on keeping our feet dry, so came up with an entertaining Plan B.

Plan B involved a short and easy scramble over the top of Beinn a Chliabhainn in a thick pea souper of a mist, followed by a steep trek up on to the summit of Beinn Tarsuinn. The clouds parted briefly for us to admire the sweeping slabs of the Meadow Face of Beinn Tarsuinn, before enclosing us once more.

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We made good time, and so decided to extend our day a little, with a traverse under the forboding cliffs of A'chir, popping out on the bealach between Achir and Cir Mhor just as the clouds lifted away at last,  treating us to incredible views of the Rosa Pinnacle. 

The stroll out of the lovely Glen Rosa, was long but enjoable. We were treated to golden eagles hunting overhead, andthe roaring of the red deer stags in the hills all around us. 

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Trossachs light show

Lucy: We've been working on the big island again... This time in the Trossachs, on a Bronze qualifying Duke of Edinburgh's Award expedition for an Edinburgh boarding school... The boys did well on what was a tough journey, with challenging weather and terrain, as well as a brutal early start on the second morning.  However, the negatives brought their positives. Changeable weather means rainbows, and early starts mean sunrises! Stunning interludes that make it all worthwhile. Thanks to the boys for their hard work and determination.

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Going Wild on Arran

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Lucy: The title of this post, is deliberately, quite similar to the title of my old blog, over on the google platform, that I curated for many years.  It describes perfectly what I spend a lot of my time doing.

The last couple of days I've been out and about with clients, wildlife guiding.  Yesterday we were on a Hotspot Safari- quite literally a tour of the best palces to watch wildlife on Arran.  The day began beautifully, with otters and sunshine.  There were snipe on the beach (who expected that?) and a red throated diver out to sea. Later in the day the weather deteriorated, but we were treated by a show of strength by the stags on the hills above the Newton Shore, who are in full rutting mode just now. Very dramatic.

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This morning was a typical dreich west coast day with strong westerlies. I wondered whether to call it but hoped that we could find a bit of shelter, and some sheltered water for an otter watching session.  Happily when we hit the shore, the rocks along the beach gave a bit of protection and we saw plenty of activity, incluing a female with two cubs, who bounced and flounced amongst the waves while their mother fished for breakfast. Later, we took a stroll along the shore the watch seals and found these lovely otter tracks in the sand.

And the weather gods smiled...

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Lucy: Wally and I have spent the last two days tramping the Galloway hills checkpointing young people on their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh's award qualifying expedition.  They were very lucky, although they possibly didn't appreciate how lucky- it rained heavily during their expedition, but only while they were in their tents.  The rest of the time it was dry and breezy. No midges... The weather gods were certainly smiling on us!

 Lochdoon Castle, an unsual place to be checkpointing kids.

Lochdoon Castle, an unsual place to be checkpointing kids.

 Loch Bradan

Loch Bradan

Goatfell Peasouper

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The view from the summit of Goatfell is, in our humble opinion, the second finest in Scotland (the best one is from the top of Caisteal Abhail...). However, today there was no view!  Npthing at all to be seen, in fact we could hardly see 10m ahead. Massive thumbs up and a pat on the back for the young people from Gosforth who accompanied myself and the staff from the Lochranza Centre to the summit. A good day's work and a well earned icecream and play about at Isle be Wild afterwards!

Feels a bit like Autumn...

 Loch Trool

Loch Trool

Lucy: Wally and I were working together for a couple of days this week, on a Bronze Duke of Edinburgh's training expedition in the Glen Trool hills. The first day of the exped had reasonably pleasant weather, but even in the sunshine, the air was cool and the autumn colours and lack of midges signalled the turning of the season.  After a dry camp, day two saw everyone soaked through and trudging back to the coach in distinctly unpleasant conditions.

Following this, I headed up to Lochaber, for a couple of days working with first year students from UHI.   This was a two day introduction to the essential skills required to enjoy the hills safely, looking at planning a fun, safe day out, weather, kit, navigation and movement skills in the hills. On the first day the weather was really quite benign, good for some introductory map games and a boggy map walk around Torcastle. On day two the wind (and a few red stags) roared and the rain poured, but we still had a fun and adventurous day out on the North ridge of Stob Ban in the Mamores range on the soth side of Glen Nevis.  We looked at movement skills and navigation in the mountain context. It was a great opportunity for the students to experience some real conditions, demonstrating the importance of good gear and route planning when heading out, especially at this time of year. It was ace to be working alongside local professionals,  Mike Pesocd (Abacus) Dave Anderson (Lochaber Guides) and Dennis Harvey, as well as a great gang of students who brought plenty of their own experience. The most interesting work for me is always when I'm learning as well as teaching and I enjoyed the change of venue and working with different colleagues.

This weekend as we hit the equinox,  I'm on a course in the Central Belt, learning about the processes involved in delivering quality Mountain Training Awards. It's a new avenue for me to explore, a different direction, and I'm not sure at this moment where it will lead!

One thing I do know though, the nights are fair drawing in. Time to add the headtorch in to the bag if it isn't there already, and winterise the clothing system...

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Cairngorms D of E

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Lucy: Here are some pics from a great gold expedition in the Cairngorms working for Mary Erskine School in Edinburgh.  This is one of my favourite, regular bits of work as the school has a strong ethos of hillwalking and outdoor activities, and the girls are very motivated.

On Saturday, I was supervising remotely in the Lairg Ghru.  It's a fabulous walk, and I never tire of it. We had perfect weather, cool, breezy and sunny, with no sign of the dreaded midge untill we got in to camp at Luibeg.

The following day, I shadowed a team as they headed up over Ben Macdui. This is a big challenge for a DofE exped, but one that the girls tackled with enthusiasm.  It was very cold and windy on top, but fortunately the visibility was perfect and the navigation presented them with no problems.

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On the third day, myself and another member of staff shadowed a team over Beinn a Bhuird. These girls were awesome navigators, which was just as well as the visibility was shocking.  In these conditions, supervision is necessarily a lot less remote, but I was happy to observe and let them get on with it! Easy life!

Meawhile, Wally was out in the Arran hills with clients, leading over Stacach and Goatfell. He didn't take any pictures, (doh) but it sounds like they enjoyed themselves with a fine ridge walk and some amazing views.