Come and try cross-country skiing this Wednesday lunchtime!

As all the schools are closed Wednesday the Outdoor Learning Service will be offering a ‘ski lunch’ to council employees based in the Haddington offices and schools.

Between 12:00 and 14:00 on Wednesday 1st December we will be transforming the rugby pitches into a cross-country ski track and allowing you to ‘hire’ ski equipment and clothing. In return we’d appreciate you making a donation of a couple of pounds direct to Disability Snowsport UK, you can do that by clicking here.

See if you can set the best time by competing against the clock using our electronic orienteering equipment? Or just have a relaxing mellow glide?

Just come down to the Kings Meadow Primary School car-park between 12:00 and 14:00 and we’ll be there to get you set up.

Starlight Express

This post was going to be called Meikle Says Law by Moonlight … unfortunately the moon never appeared – well thanks Al!. Making the best of the fine snow covering in the local ranges meant lots of skiing through the darkness. Excellent snow conditions … and much better fun than the following pictures suggest.

The route was GPS tracked on a Garmin Forerunner … but I forgot to switch-off tracking once we got back to the car, so were tracked back to Haddington. No – we didn’t manage to ski back at c70km/hr. So if you want to see the route you’ll need to zoom in on the loop up towards the Whitadder.

Garmin Connect Map

To view and playback the route in Garmin Connect click here or on the map image above.

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.

Knox S1s dust off the x-country skis

I’m told that it’s been many, many, many years since we’ve been able to plan ahead to use the x-country equipment that we have in Outdoor Ed.  But the conditions we’ve had over the last month made it well worth while digging out the skis. They don’t look they’ve been much used this millenium. Really. 

The first group to use them was on Friday with a session with the Knox S1’s. It was the 3rd session of their R.O.P.E program (also see While this session was supposed to be Orienteering , when snow conditions like these come around you just have to grab the opportunity when you can.

Getting the mini-bus up Gifford was the first challenge, but luckily the roads as far as there were fine. We geared up outside at the village hall and skied straight form there.

View Gifford x-country Ski in a larger map

Skiing up the up the village green the snow was pristine; too deep for people to have walked in and messed it up.  From there we went on up the estate road towards Yester house.   Our eventual destination was intended to be the Gobin’ha – the castle up beyond golf course, not the pub!  Skiing up the by the river was on fine paths; up to a metre or more of soft powder. I’m sure there was be lots of wildlife to be seen – but the constant shrieks of kids falling/crashing/capering kept all well hid.

In the end we started to run out of light, and some out of energy – and weren’t going to make it to the Goblin’ha. After a quick snack break we headed back the way we came, getting back to the van for about 3:30. Weather and snow conditions were excellent all afternoon, never got much above -5C. Hopefully an outing with memories that will stay with all the pupils for a lifetime.

I’m pretty sure I got some really got photos and would have included them in this post … unfortunately my camera is having an unplanned ‘winter break’ in a Lammermuir snow-drift after going AWOL during a weekend ski outing. 🙁