Mr Tumnus in the Snowhole with the Shovel

Not a weird version of Cluedo but our annual Winter Skills course. It went ahead despite an overload of snow. We were due to be based up in The Cairngorms but due to large amounts of snowfall and strong wind towards the end of the week we realised that our route up north was blocked. At the last moment we were able to book some accommodation in Perthshire. Culdees bunkhouse – very welcoming, relaxed and full of interesting characters.

Some photos to look out for in the slideshow. Creature of the woods; Ski cross technique; emerging from the snow; Why bother with snowshoes?

Click here to see full resolution slideshow, and from here you can download full res images.

On arrival we had to do some digging to get our vehicle and trailer off the road, then walk the last kilometre. Some locals came out and enjoyed an evening of mass digging.

The snow for the weekend was fairly unconsolidated and meant that on the Saturday we took to snow shoeing and walked straight out of the door and up the slopes of Meall Greigh. All participants certainly appreciated the use of snowshoes and some hardy soles (sic) even attempted travelling without them for short periods. This resulted in some snow swimming. Once out of the woods we looked at navigating; digging snow shelters; creating snow anchors. Our journey back off the hill was quicker than the journey up as we had a foot deep trench to pad down. See if you can spot a photo of a shortcut gone awry.

We know how to party on these courses … so Saturday night was a quiet night in with an interactive avalanche quiz, birthday celebrations and snoozing.

Sunday we took out nordic skis and travelled the length of Glen Ogle on the disused railway line. All participants picked up the skills of balancing on skinny skis fairly quickly and the finish to the day was a rather steep descent down the cycle path into Lochearnhead.

Of the nine course participants we have two working towards their Summer Mountain Leader Award; one excursion advisor within secondary school; one supply staff who encourages energetic learning in schools they work in; two working with local youth groups on residentials; one an NQT within East Lothian who is embedding the outdoors into schemes of work within their primary school; one new to ELC and the area, and one member of East Lothian Countryside Ranger Service who is regularly involved in education of pupils in the outdoors.

This course has hopefully added to the participants confidence and enthusiasm for working outdoors and will in time translate to more opportunities for fantastic fun filled outdoor learning with East Lothian Schools – all helping to deliver a Curriculum for Excellence.

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