My work experience week with Outdoor Education

My name is Beth and I’m in my fourth year at North Berwick high school, I enjoy sports like basketball and hockey and I also love doing activities outside like hill walking, camping and snowboarding. This week I have chosen to do my work experience with East Lothian Outdoor Education because I enjoy working with children and I also like to be outside learning more about the outdoors and keeping active.

On Monday my first day of work experience I arrived slightly nervous but I  had a very friendly welcome by each member of staff and was introduced to everyone who works at Outdoor education. I then later was showed around the building to learn where everything is kept.

I began my first day by organising and maintaining some equipment that had been used  on previous days. After I went with a small group of around 5 from Prestponpans primary school  and  helped everyone get prepared for our cycle to Dalkeith country park. Together we all cycled along the river Esk, through fields to the park where we stopped and ate lunch. After lunch we continued our cycle going on tracks and trails through the park and then later we cycled back to the centre.Transition Grp Cycle

The children and I all really enjoyed the day despite the rain and it was a great experience for them getting to learn day to day basic skills in a fun more engaging way like general safety, respect for other people and themselves, road awareness or even working as a team making sure no one is left behind, everybody sticks together and everyone is included. We even got a lesson on how to change an inner tube when one of the children got a puncture which was an extra bonus for us all including me as I didn’t know how to this already.

The following day after I got involved in a first aid course becoming a casualty and victim and then getting rescued by the people on the course as if it was a real life situation. This was very interesting for me as I had never done anything like this before and I learnt lots about first aid myself from a different perspective being the casualty instead of first aider.

On Wednesday Keith and I set off to the lagoon where we took children from he Ross High ASN unit canoeing. When we arrived the rain was pouring down but not long after the sun came out and the children cheered up. They loved splashing in the water and some of them even managed to advance there kayaking skills and become more confident on the water.  It was a great experience for the children and for me getting to watch them enjoy the outdoors and play in the water.  img_1123 In the afternoon we went climbing in Tranent with some people from Ross high school, they were in their fourth year and had previously done climbing once before. We all managed to get lots of climbs in and everyone also learnt how to belay each other which allowed us to gain more trust in one another.  I think it was a great experience for them as it was trying new things and doing fun activities while learning. It was also a good experience for me getting to help people who are of a similar age to me.

On the fourth day Keith, Antony, bob and I all went down to the end of North Berwick’s east beach to go coasteering with a group of children from Law primary. The wind in the afternoon was gusting up to 40mph  but we all still had a great time climbing under, over and on top of rocks in the waves. In the morning we all jumped off rocks into deep pools and let the waves whoosh us down channels. Over all it was a great day and everyone said they had an amazing time. When I was in p7  I had done this before with school and it was great to do it again helping the children and encouraging them to do things they might not usually do. Image result for coasteering east lothian

My week of work experience with outdoor education was an amazing week and I’m very glad I chose to do this. I would love to get involved in something like this when I’m older and I’m very grateful to everyone at the outdoor learning centre for making it a fun busy week and letting me get involved in everything possible. Thankyou!

 

 

Skye Sports – job done!

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We had wind, rain, some midges, more rain, and more rain – ok we did have sun on the first and last days.  Over 7 days a group of S5 pupils from Knox and North Berwick High Schools walked 108 kms of the Skye Trail from Broadford in the south to Rubha Hunish in the north.

On leaving Broadford the group first walked 20 kms round the coast to camp at Torrin. Next day we battled over the mighty Blaven in terrible conditions before seeking overnight sanctuary in the great new Camusunary bothy in the company of three Germans, a Norwegian, Hungarian, Lithuanian and a Bulgarian- all conversing of course in English.  Next we walked up the valley to camp at Sligachan, then walked in a ‘monsoon’ day round the coast to the next camp at Portree.  From here we stumbled and fought our way over peat bogs to the top of mighty Storr at the south end of the Trotternish.  Next, we walked the north end of the Trotternish and down through the Quiraing to camp at the excellent Dun Flodigarry Hostel (thankfully with the use of their facilities to avoid the ferocious midges). On the last day we finished with amazing views of Harris, watched dolphins breaching in the Minch before finishing with a refreshing swim at the very north tip at Rubha Hunish.

Very well done Phoebe, Ailsa, Conal, George, Danial, Matt and Ross!  Top job by all for being up for the challenge, and especially for maintaining a great level of enthusiasm and morale through conditions that were definitely ‘character forming’ at times.  And thank you much Caroline for volunteering; giving up your time and helping to make this happen.

Sorry about the lack of pictures (the one of Blaven in the sun above was Googled!),  but I lost my camera. Hopefully we’ll be be able to share group photos and I’ll get more up here.

Have a great Summer …

Ski adventures above the clouds for PL and NB pupils

IMG_3476Pupils from Preston Lodge and North Berwick schools took part in a weekend of ski touring with the Outdoor Learning Service.   Driving north on the Friday with 19 degs C having been recorded in Braemar we were ‘optimistic but realistic‘ as to what snow cover we would find for touring in the Cairngorms.

However those that ‘went high’ were rewarded with a world of blue ski, blazing sun and excellent snow above the clouds – on one day at least.

On Saturday we left from  the top ski car-park and set out in hope into a thick grey fog.

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After skinning up Fiacaille of Corrie Cas for an hour the murk started to thin, and after another hour, and just as we reached the Cairngorm plateau, we broke through to blazing sunshine,  a cloudless sky and looked down on the tops of the cloud layer.  A perfect cloud inversion.

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As we rested and took off the skins the blue sky disappeared and cloud rolled back in just as we left to ski down Corrie Raibert.

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Then the blue ski reappeared as we skinned back to the top of Cairngorm.

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And the same happened again as we descended into Ciste Mearid and climbed back out to ski back down Corrie Cas!   In fact all day we seemed to manage to coincide the great downhill skiing with terrible visibility, and the skinned up hill under a blazing sun!  Still a brilliant day, giving these lucky East Lothian school pupils a top intro to ski touring.

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They all got to learn new skills and appreciate back-country skiing away from the crowds and in amazing conditions.

The Sunday saw us back on top of Cairngorm, then a great ski down into Corrie Raibert again, linking up the snow patches we had skinned up the day before. After this it was skins on again and we made our way  round the back of Corrie Sneachda and Corrie an Lochain. In contrast to the day before though we were ‘in the white’ for all the journey over the plateau.

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Each of the team took turns out front and experienced that weird whiteout feeling of no horizon and no way to see if the snow ahead was up, down or flat.  Two hours of careful navigation later and we dropped out of the clouds for an excellent spring snow descent down Lurchers gully.

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Even the one and a half kms slog back back across heather in boots to the car-park failed to take the smiles off the faces.

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Another great day. Given how quickly the white-stuff is going though, unless we get some more snow-fall soon, that will definitely be the last tour of the season from us.

If you are a S4, S5 or S6 pupil, or parent of one and want to participate in next year’s ski touring adventures please contact us.  Click here for the gPhotos album of all photos.

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.