All our Yester-days

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Groups of P4, P5 and and P6 pupils from Yester Primary School managed to coincide their Outdoor Learning days with a run of some spectacularly brilliant late-Summer sunshine.

Monday had the first two groups journeying up the Tyne by canoe. Perfect tranquil conditions on the water, saw the groups both paddling (with paddles) and poling (with poles) from the weir at Aubigny to Clerkington Mill. A couple of the afternoon group even managed to do some unexpected swimming. And helped with capsize recovery.

On Wednesday another group visited the golden waters of Musselburgh lagoons, where again perfect calm conditions helped them learn a number of canoes skills … and again some felt they the need to sample the waters a little closer.

On Thursday two more groups visited the crags on Traprain, our local laccolith, for a spot of sun-baked rock-climbing. Here the groups learned how to climb and belay, looking after each other safely.

Thanks to Mandy from Yester and parent-helper Jennifer for their assitance. Also thanks to the pupils for working so well together, rising to the challenges and enjoying learning a number of new skills on land and water.

NICAS to you

We are delighted to announce that the Outdoor Learning Service are now able to offer young climbers in East Lothian a nationally recognised award in indoor climbing; the National Indoor Climbing Achievement Scheme.

In July we became a NICAS Awarding Centre, one of only a handful of public sector organisations in Scotland. The NICAS award can be delivered by the service’s Outdoor Education Teachers over a number of sessions at the local Tranent climbing wall, and potentially visits to Alien Rock and EICA at Ratho.

NICAS allows young people to progress up a number of award levels. The Outdoor Learning Service are able to deliver levels 1 and 2 of the fives steps of the award; Foundation Climber and Top Rope Climber. Contact Andy Duff if you want to know more.

Benny Hill

After 2 evenings climbing on Traprain, the jewel of the Lothians, the CPD Crag Climbing course spent Saturday at Benny Beg near Crieff. Unlike Traprain, Benny Beg has been developed as a sport crag, with abundant bolts and lower-offs. An excellent venue with lots of low-stress F3, F4 and F5 graded routes, sun-shine and the mandatory visit to the nearby cafe for cake.

If you missed out on this years see ‘Outdoor Climbing’ in the Climbing and Mountain Sports Courses and Qualifications section of the Staff Development pages for details on next years course. To download any photo’s click on the slide-show above, go to the Picasa web album and download any you want.

Workin’ on the chain gang

Friday was the final day of the Knox’s S2s R.O.P.E. Challenge delivered by East Lothian Council Outdoor Education Service …. and the E is for Exploration. The team had chosen to travel over to Fife to do the Chain Walk near Ellie.

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The route allows you to explore a number of inaccessible bays around Ellie Point, reached by rocky scrambles just above and in the intertidal zone. Several of the trickier climbing sections have fixed chains; and it’s for this reason the route is often jokingly referred to as Scotland’s mini via ferrata.

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The forecast of wet and windy weather … was accurate, we got both. While the climbing was technically easy, the rock was slippy and wet. So, on the traversing sections, the climbers protected themselves by clipping slings attached to their harnesses onto the chains. On the longer vertical sections a top rope was used for security. Despite cold hands the group were kept focused by the climbing tasks. This, and the waves crashing about our feet, meant there was never a dull moment!

For this group of eight Knox S2 pupils today was the last of a four session adventurous outdoor activities program called the R.O.P.E. Challenge. The first session, Rock-climbing was at the climbing wall at Tranent. The second, Orienteering was navigation in the Lammermuirs , the third Paddling was a canoe journey. This final Exploration day has allowed the group to travel further afield and to put into practice some new skills and the teamwork developed in the earlier session.

This short program has given these youngsters some new outdoor skills, put them into situations that has challenged them, developing their confidence – but above all it has hopefully whetted their appetite for further outdoor adventures.

If you took part in this prorgam your parents will be sent a letter and a certificate. We would also really appreciate if you could fill out the online feedback form.

(For future reference … the drive from Tranent is about 2 hours, it’s 30 minutes walk to the start. We started the first chain at 1pm, which was about as early as we could after a 11am high tide (a 4.0m at 11am at Anstruther). The last chain was completely clear of the water, we completed the last section by 15:00, back to the bus by 3:30. So total time, bus-to-bus with no stops, was about 4 hours)

Peer Belaying

An approved document from the OEAP (Outdoor Education Advisors Panel – the English/Welsh equivalent of SAPOE (Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education)). This document will be of interest to all party leaders who use any centre/establishment with climbing or high rope course elements present.

The document is available to read here

This checklist is aimed at visit leaders / assistants who may be present with a group of young people during a climbing or high ropes activity session but who are not directly responsible for the technical aspects of the activity.