2 Days in the Life of a Climbing Wall

Hello, my name’s James Spalding and I’m a student on the Outdoor Education MSc programme at Edinburgh University, and I’m currently doing my placement here for a month at East Lothian Outdoor Learning Service.

The first  2 days have been focused on using the climbing wall at Forester’s Park provided by EnjoyLeisure, which they generously donate free of charge during school hours to the East Lothian Council Outdoor Learning Service (ELCOLS) and provides children with the opportunity to take their first steps into the climbing world without having to spend a penny.

Day 1 was spent in the company of Antony Stone, who is a freelance associate of ELCOLS and we were with a great group of 4 young people from ELWorks. None of these kids had ever participated in climbing before today and it’s safe to say that they exceeded mine and Antony’s expectations with their ability to pick up these new skills quickly.


(Antony showing off his fig-8 skills)

After some gentle persuasion they were coaxed onto the bouldering aspect of the wall to get to grips with what they would end up accomplishing easily by the end of their first session. Thus demonstrating their ability to quickly acquire the fundamental skills needed for climbing.



(Josh and Vinnie bouldering)

Day 2 – I was with ELOCLS principle teacher Martyn Pegg and Ross High School, and Physics teacher Chris Loud, who were doing a very different type of activity on the wall. With Chris’s ‘Higher’ class, they were trying to determine the level of friction created in climbing ropes when they’re twisted a certain number of times (I think, I was never great physics), and they came back with some pretty interesting results. They’ll be back next week to test the friction of different belay devices by using their own experimental methods. Can’t wait to see how they do it, hopefully I can keep up.


Before today, I never would have thought you could use a climbing wall this way, and it just shows how the imagination of a few teachers to take a primarily, textbook based topic and incorporate a climbing wall into the Higher Physics Curriculum can have such a positive effect on their students. The creativity of these guys to think outside the box (and the classroom) was inspiring and great to see.

Looking forward to what’s next on the calendar!

Staff Winter Skills CLPL – Weekend of 4th-6th March 2016

winter skills

This year we are back at the fine facilities of Badaguish in the Cairngorms National Park.

Why attend?
Whether  a novice or an experienced hill-walker the Scottish winter mountains can be a challenging environment.  They are an excellent place to help you gain the skills and confidence to better manage and inspire groups in the outdoors.

When …
Meeting , then leaving from  Outdoor Learning Service in Musselburgh,  at 4pm on Friday 4th March, returning evening of Sunday 6th March.

Activities will be dependent on the conditions and the group, they include …
Planning your winter day  – weather forecast, snow-pack, route-choice, what to take?
Winter navigation
Winter technical skills – use of winter boots, ice-axe, crampons
Snow craft – building emergency shelters, snow holes
Avalanche awareness and emergency response.
Snowshoeing – dependent on conditions
Ski-touring – very dependent on participants prior experience and conditions

What’s included …
Self-catering accommodation in 4 bed dorms
Instruction and coaching from ELC OLS staff
All technical and safety equipment, including shell clothing and winter boots.
BF, pack-lunch and dinner on the Sat, BF and pack-lunch on the Sun

What to bring …
See here for a kit-list
Linen for bedding is provided but you need so bring a towel!
Enthusiasm and a smile

How to book …
Cost is £95 for East Lothian and Midlothian council staff, community group leaders and volunteers (£150 for external delegates) . To confirm your place please fill out a CPD booking form located here , and email in to outdoorlearning@elcschool.org.uk

Not sure, or want to know more?  Email me … Andy Duff