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.
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!
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...
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.
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.
Lucy: I've just returned from a fantastic week assisting Andy Charlton of Adventure Expeditions: Duke of Edinburgh's award expedition experts. Alongside their excellent UK based journeys, they also provide a number of bespoke European Gold expeditions including an adventurous and frankly, stunning journey through the Tatra mountains of Slovakia.
Initially, we based ourselves on the Polish side of the border in the bustling town of Zakopane for acclimatisation and last minute equipment and food purchases. Once underway, we quickly crossed the border in to Slovakia. The first day we explored the eastern fringes of the White, or Belianske Tatry. With quiet farms and meadows, this was a big contrast to the noisy tourism of the Polish side.
For the following three days, we crossed the White Tatra, and headed deep in to the High Tatra, or Vysoke Tatry, journeying from hut to hut and crossing remote mountain cols. We met a few fellow travellers, and almost as many chamois and marmots. We saw no sign of the reported bears and wolves.
This was was my first time in this wild and exciting mountain range. The nearest comparison I can come up with, is that it is like a huge pumped up Cuillin Ridge, with dark and jagged ridges towering over remote lakes and corries. The terrain is complex and steep, but the paths we used are well maintained, making this a great place for a very special DofE Gold exped.