A Mountainous Achievement


Big congratulations to Musselburgh Grammar’s Lizzie Orsi who just successfully completed her Mountain Leader (ML) Award.

The ML is a one of the Mountain Training’s top level awards and requires a significant commitment in time and effort.  To gain this award you are assessed in a variety of aspects of mountain leadership including night navigation, environmental awareness, land-access, group management and safety on steep ground using a rope.  Plus you need to build a significant log book of evidence of your experience in  the mountains.

With this award Lizzie can now lead groups on trips into any of the mountainous areas in Britain from Snowdonia to Ben Hope, from Ben Nevis to Mount Keen – and everywhere in between.  Whether supervising DofE groups, or enhancing her delivery of Geography this qualification will be a great asset for Lizzie to teach in the outdoors – anywhere! Top job.

The Scottish Oat Route … Job Done!

A team of senior school pupils from Knox Academy, North Berwick High and Dunbar Grammar School returned on Wednesday from an 8 day , 160 km expedition climbing, and walking between, all of Scotand’s 4000 foot Munros.

We traveled up to Fort William and started off with the round of the 4 Lochaber 4000 footers;  Anoach Beg, Anoach Mor, Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis. A big day,  lots of ups and downs, but glorious weather.  Highlights were teetering along the knife edge CMD Arete on perfect warm rock, blue skies and the views out to Skye and Rum  from the snow covered summit of The Ben (pictured above and below).   Lots of snow, and some skiers still skiing the gullies.


After a second night in the excellent Steall hut the group walked across Scotland for 5 days to the Cairngorms. Our route took us up Glen Nevis, across Rannoch Moor, through the Ben Alder Forest, over the A9 at Dalwhinnie and over to Glen Feshie. Some long days, but mostly in glorious  weather,  just a spot of rain before Dalwhinnie, but never a midge in sight at any of the camps!  Food drops had been left at Dalwhinnie and Glen Feshie Lodge so we were never walking with more than 3 days supplies.

The next 2 days were over the  tops of the Cairngorms. The 3 western 4000 foot mountains of Braeriach, Angel’s Peak and Cairn Toul were completed in a long day in deteriorating conditions.

The day ended with a ‘sting in the tail’ just before the descent into the Larig Gru.  The exceptionally large quantities of snow of this year had  left a steep snow bank and small cornice blocking the descent off the plateau to our camp by Corrour Bothy. Luckily the snow was pretty soft so after kicking some steps the group were able to descend safely.

The last day was ‘touch and go’ as to whether we could cross the plateau again and climb the last 2 summits.  By 7 am the very strong winds which has buffeted our tents overnight abated so the pull up onto Ben Macdui was relatively calm, until the summit plateau was reached.  The high winds then returned and we were battered and blown across the northern plateau to the 9th and final 4000ft mountain; Cairngorm.  After that it was a quick drop down through the ski area to the base station car-park, a bus to Aviemore, then a cheeky wee chip-supper before getting the train back to Edinburgh. Job done.

So why is this called the Oat Route? Like it’s Alpine namesake The High Route, or Haute Route, (pronounced ‘Oat’) that links Chamonix and Zermatt, so the Scottish Oat Route links Scotland’s mountain resorts of Fort William and Aviemore.

Thanks to Dave Habgood, an Associate teacher with the Outdoor Learning Service, for helping us make this happen and definitely a job well done to Adam, Andrew, Angus, Euan, Leon and Sean for digging deep and completing the challenge in such good spirits. An excellent trip that should have equipped all with some quality mountain experiences, and new skills, to progress their own outdoor adventures at University or their last year at school.

School of Hard Knox

An intrepid group of students as part of their activity week elected to explore a little of their beautiful country on foot.

After a preparation day in East Lothian (the students were responsible for organising food and kit), including a little navigation training and planning of their route, the pupils set off north to the Cairngorms

Ruighe-aiteachain bothy in Glen Feshie was one the groups plans to visit and the group camped a reasonable distance away and were introduced to the bothies; how to respect them; how to look after them; yet enjoying the cameraderie of bothy life.

The group also acheived their planned objective of ensuring that they summited a Munro – managing to avoid the snow on the way!

All in a great well planned by S3 studnets from Knox Academy developing resilience, fortitude and planning skills and ready now to have a lifetime of adventures

Beinn Dearg or Ben Jerrag?

A new service has been released by the Gaelic Development Agency to provide you with a sound-file of Gaelic pronounciation of Scottish mountain names.

All you need is the mountain’s name and it’s OS NGB, then go to www.cnag.org/en/mountain-names and enter your request. This seems to be powered by Gaelic speaking humans so please don’t abuse the service! And if you don’t have a map handy to get the OS NGB … try this really useful site http://gridreferencefinder.com.

Personally I’m holding out for the app that you just point at the hill and it speaks to you …

Now, whether we should just pronounce the names phonetically or add that Gaelic flair and risk confusing the emergency services is up to you to discuss over a mince pie and a mulled wine. Have a good Christmas!