Go Forth – The search for Uri

This past Friday afternoon and Saturday had a Staff development Sea Kayak training course taking place. All participants are working in schools to develop paddlesport within their own situation for the pupils. With the help of the outdoor education service and a large amount of time and effort on their behalf they have all achieved their Scottish Canoe Association UKCC Level 1 coach. They are now all working toward their 3 star Sea kayak award.

Just off the Lamb - no sign of Mr Geller
Just off the Lamb - no sign of Mr Geller

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Friday afternoon we spent just offshore at Longniddry Bents. A fair amount of chop led to some sporting conditions for a bit of rescue practice. Everyone commented on how necessary it is to practice all these things in as realistic conditions as possible.

Saturday the wind dropped to below 10 mph and proved perfect conditions for a trip taking in Bass Rock, Craigleith and The Lamb  ( Mr Uri Geller has recently purchased The Lamb and was planning to camp the night on it on Saturday – we looked carefully but so no sign of the landowner!)

All participants are planning to now further their skills and experience. This course is just one of many offered by the Outdoor Education Service.

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.

Schools Orienteering Competition

The Results


All the results for both primary courses are on the one spreadsheet – including all the split times (individual times for each leg)


All the results are in order of points – maximum points available were 700.

The Images

Click on the image for a slideshow …

The Primary Competition …

The Secondary Competition …

The Report

The weather was fantastic for the annual schools orienteering competition held at John Muir Country Park near Dunbar. In the morning was the primary competition. Two trophies up for grabs: a P4/5 trophy for pairs of students of this age; a P 6/7 trophy where students were required to compete solo.

For the first time in this annual events history the competitors were able to have a printout of their results immediately thanks to electronic timing. One or two pairs of the first P4/5 competitors returned not having been to all controls but they had a great time finding the ones they did. Pretty soon competitors were returning to receive their results and able to compare immediately with each other. Fairly early in the day the current holders of the P6/7 trophy arrived – Gullane Primary. So confident were they that they had left the trophy at school – does it stay there?

Later on in the morning the last primary competitors returned to school leaving the outdoor education staff, rangers and other helpers able to feast (mostly on cake).

After 1pm the secondary schools began arriving registering for a score event. A score event is where each control has a certain value and the competitors have a certain length of time to punch as many controls as possible – in this case 40 minutes. The mass start began at 2:17pm The immediacy of results at the end of the 40 minutes meant that there was quite a buzz around the finish area. Most competitors realised that the penalties for returning late – after 40 minutes – wasn’t worth risking.

Abby D from Preston lodge deserves a mention as the highest placed finisher who clearly competed on her own.

The trophies will be going to the following schools for this year
Knox Academy Secondary trophy
East Linton P 4/5 trophy
Yester Primary P 6/7 trophy

These trophies have been calculated by taking a mean average of all competitors from each school that completed the course (primary) and the mean average score (secondary)

  • Are there other ways that the results could be calculated?
  • Does it give a different result?
  • How can the results be presented differently?

The Possibilities

Following on from this event back at school there are a myriad of ways that the pupils could chose to take their learning in line with CfE. Pupils could choose to: look at maps and mapping; land use and access; compass – history/use/types; health and fitness; numeracy – speed/ distance/time calculations; presentation of data – statistical manipulation.
Some schools are currently looking into the possibility of hosting their own events with the help of the outdoor education team – or indeed hosting a community orienteering event with all the aspects that this brings: marketing;hospitallity;course planning;access.

For more information on how orienteering links to a Curriculum for Excellence see the presentation delivered at the recent East Lothian TeachMeet.

The Thanks

Ranger Service

Mr Al Paul

Mr Robin Strain

The school staff that brought the eager competitors

Regular users of John Muir Country Park

The Maps

Click on the thumbnail below to see a map of your course.

Primary P4-P5 Course
Primary P6-P7 Course
Primary P6-P7 Course
S2 Score Course
S2 Score Course

Dancing on Ice

Ross high students undertaking the John Muir Award travelled back to Gladshouse reservoir on a second visit. The first time they had been with East Lothian Ranger Service discovering a wild place – they returned to explore the wild place. The students had been hoping that they could explore the reservoir by canoe. However half of the reservoir was found to be covered in very thick ice. Our exploring of the reservoir took on a different approach.

After trying to paddle our canoes we took to a spot of dragging then finally attempted to sail our canoes across the water. A great days exploring had by all. An alternative ‘liquid’ reservoir day is being arranged for the students to continue their exploration.

Learning by the Back Door

Click on the image for a slideshow
Click on the image for a slideshow

Monday saw the P 3,4,5 composite class from Athelstaneford spend the day out on the hills behind their school – the fantastic Garleton Hills. After spending an hour planning their journey within the classroom – what to pack; weather forecasting; route choice; distance and timings – we were able to walk from the classroom, out of the back door and straight up into the Garleton Hills.

We spent the day looking at past and present land use of East Lothian; map reading and navigation (following on from a previous orienteering session with some pupils); one or two bushcraft skills.

Over lunch the pupils erected a teepee and set a fire going so we could all have a cup of hot chocolate in a communal atmosphere. We had our lunch on the site of a former fort – a fabulous location with views that meant we were able to pick out the Isle of May; Lomond Hills; Bass Rock; Dunbar church; Fidra – to name but a few. Our ordnance survey maps that we had been studying in the classroom at the start of the day suddenly came to life.

Our original plan had been to make it all the way to the Hopetoun Monument, however our plans were changed as a fantastic learning opportunity occurred towards the end of the day concerning risk management!

Some children are making plans themselves to take their parents up to the Hopetoun Monument to ‘complete’ their walk.