A week in the Cairngorms with Gertrude

A great week based out of Badaguish in the Cairngorms. The first half of the week we had a group from ELWorks, the second half a group of Hillend trained skiers from Musselburgh Grammar School. The aims for both groups was to inspire young people with an adventurous experience, help grow their confidence and develop their outdoor skills.

Monday
We kitted up with Winter skills gear and drove up to the lower Cairngorm car-park at Corrie Ciste with the intention of finding some snow to look at using ice-axe, crampon and dig a snow-hole. IMG_0579

Unfortunately the start of storm Gertrude had different ideas. Torrential rain, high winds. So we headed round rather than up and descended down to Ryvoan bothy for some rest from the weather.

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Tuesday
A really really really really really windy day up from the Sugarbowl car-park with the intention of heading up to the Chalamaine gap …. again Gertrude had different ideas and after being blown about for less than an hour we had to retreat. A top afternoon spent back at Badaguish honing our slack-line-skills.

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Wednesday
Between groups, and in preparation for the ski group arriving, we headed round to Glen Feshie to recce the slopes for a ski tour on the Thursday. Weather-wise probably the best day of the week – but the hills still very green and lacking in snow. We walked then skinned up onto Carn ban Mor, skinned south to the unnamed top and looked to find some decent snow for the decent.

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Unfortunately the visibility dropped and the descent was ‘adventures in heather’ with only about a total of a hundred meters of quality snow.  Walked to the bus and drove back round to meet the Musselburgh Grammar group who had arrived at Badaguish. Consensus was that for a group too much walking not enough snow to return on Thursday.

Thursday
Our hopes were raised with a bit of fresh snow so we kitted up with ski touring kit and drove up to the Cairngorm top car-park. Our plan was to head across the front of the corries with the hope of joining up some of the remaining old snow patches in Lurchers Gully .

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We spilt into two groups and skinned at first then walked round the front of as far as the Sneachda burn … un-crossable! A detour up the river and across to the bottom of Fiacille of Sneachda got us onto some decent snow to practice uphill kick turns and even a bit of downhill!  Conditions deteriorated though , so after all of the group had been blown over at least once we headed home. Great day out though, some quality Scottish winter ski-touring experienced, and survived.

Friday
Storm Gertrude arrived in earnest. The windiest you can really function walking before you’re blown over is probably 60 or 70mph. That day the top wind-speed recorded on Cairngorm summit was 144mph  – so no way we were going anywhere on the tops in skis! Instead we headed on foot over Meall a Buachaille behind Glenmore.

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Despite snow shower and ferocious high wind-speeds , with the odd ‘blow-you-over’ gusts we just managed to make it over the summit before descending to Ryvoan bothy to thaw-out by the fire.

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And cook damper bread …

IMG_0681An absolutely top day’s “walk on the wild side” and a great end to the week

Thanks very much to Stevie Nelson from ELWorks and Frank Brown from MGS for getting the groups together and helping with the week.

Click here for a slide-show of all of the photos.

MGS Cairngorm Gold

Congratulations to Musselburgh Grammar’s Colin, Fraser, Cameron, Andrew, Nicola, Cali, Calum and Emma for completing their Gold Duke of Edinburgh qualifying expedition this week.

The 2 groups had a range of conditions from pretty dreich, to almost Summer, as they travelled for 4 days and 3 nights through the wilds of the southern Cairngorms. Despite previous nervousness that the final 20km day over Jock’s Road would be horrendous the groups both finished ahead of time and in great spirtis – including a quick unschedueld nip up a Munro on the way past for some.

Well done to all, and a really big thanks to Ms Bonnar for assisting with the remote supervision and to Ms Orsi for all of her efforts getting them here.

Stop Press! (mennan)

5 schools, 11 teams, 7 challenges, hills, mud and trees – it must be the S1 Challenge!

The rain stayed off till the last 10 minutes of the s1 Challenge held at Pressmennan Woods on Friday. All teams completed enthusiastically on a hilly course round a variety of challenges both in the woods and up on the open (and windy) hills.

It was a combination of stamina and great team-work that saw Ross High School and Musselburgh Grammar (the all girl team) win jointly on the day with 39 points. They were closely followed in joint 3rd place by Knox and PL with 37 points, with one of the teams from North Berwick not far behind in 5th place with 34 points.

Well done to all that competed, thanks for the help from the school staff. And see you all next time at the S6 Challenge on Friday 3rd December at Yellowcarig

East Lothian for Advanced Highers


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Occasional showers and a bit of wind did not deter Advanced Higher Geography pupils from Knox, Musselburgh and Dunbar from visiting some of the top geography spots of East Lothian on Monday.

The first stop was Moneynut Edge above Innerwick and a walk up through Aikengall Windfarm. Sheltering behind one of the turbines the group discussed environmental impact of upland wind farm developments, all the more relevant being within sight of both Cockenzie and Torness. Next stop was Cove Harbour to look at coastal erosion processes – plenty of fine examples of wave-cut platforms, stacks and arches. Plus also a visit quick visit to evidence of Coves smuggling past.

After lunch the group drove round to Yellowcraig and met with Dave Wild of East Lothian Council Country-side Ranger Service. First topic was visitor impact and how this relates to the management of the unique coastal habitats of Yellowcraig. The second part of Dave’s very informative session looked at the effect of invasive plant species such such as sea-buckthorn and piri-piri on the natural development of the dune systems. This was particular interest to the pupils who were undertaking sand-dune transects. Dave’s intimate knowledge and passion for this fine stretch of East Lothian coastline was obvious.

Hopefully the day has helped with ideas for some of the pupils who have yet to start their Advanced Higher Investigation, answered many questions for others – and has hopefully given some new ideas for next year’s projects. Thanks to Dave the Ranger , Mrs Hamilton and Ms Hillison for their help.