On Tuesday, Ed and I took a group gorge walking!
Our information was that the teachers were keen for the week’s aim to be “building resilience” … boy were they in for a treat/shock (delete as appropriate).
We gave them a full briefing, made sure they were well kitted up and did our best to explain what we expected from them before we got down to the gorge.
As soon as I stepped in, my feet were numb! It was that cold. The group were top end primary school kids and to my surprise, very resilient. There wasn’t much complaining, they helped each other out, and then, all of a sudden, the cold hit them! Two started crying the others started slipping over and we still had two obstacles to conquer to get to a safe egress point.
It just so happened to be a deep pool and a ramp with a fairly decent flow coming down it. As I waded through to set myself up to manage the group through the pool and up the ramp, the water came up a little higher than I was expecting. A short sharp intake of breath, a smile to Ed, and a brave face for the kids followed!
We all got through, all got out, and all got back to the van for some heat blasted from the vents. Normally after a gorge walk we stop and do a loch jump, but we just boycotted that and got back for a warm shower and a cup of tea!
On Friday, Dave W (Chief Instructor) sent me off to recce Meall nan Tarmachan and Ben Lawers, two Munros on the other side of Loch Tay, to familiarise myself with the area for Saturday when I’d be leading a group there.
What’s so bad about that? A paid hill day: some people can only dream of such things. If I was on a day off, I wouldn’t even have driven to the car park, but to a café instead, and spent the day reading books and drinking coffee; it was grim! 35+ mph winds, rain all day, visibility between 50-100m. Off I went.
Fortunately the paths are in quite good nick, and so I made good progress.
Within two and a half hours I’d been up and down Meall nan Tarmachan and was back at the car for some food. I also took the opportunity to swap footwear and waterproofs for a little extra comfort. Towards Ben Lawers then. I went around the back of Beinn Ghlas and found a little bit of shelter from the elements and had a brief clearing to look down the glen.
I then just stomped up the side towards the top, to make this day as short as possible! At the top of Beinn Ghlas, I glanced at the map and saw the ridge back down was roughly in a SW direction, a quick spin of the compass and I was off! I could feel my quads burning and knew they were going to ache over the next couple of days, but I was not going to hang about. Phew, back at the car, a full and fresh compliment of dry clothes and head for home. (In case anyone was wondering, it was 17.6km, 1353m of height gain and 2800 kcals burnt over 5h20mins. Boom.)
Time to meet the new group that evening… A large team building exercise that starts in the evening and then carries on the following morning was the plan for this group of marine engineers in training. I watched them hunt for lost (hidden by us) stuff, and then headed for home, and some canoeing on the loch the next day.
Sunday was the hill day. I was SO pleased to see that the weather forecast was almost the complete opposite to what it had been on Friday. Clear, sunny, light wind and only one mountain to do.
Whilst I was there to look after the group, they had to make a decision as to which mountain they wanted to do, via which route and pick three leaders to manage the group on the ascent, summit, and descent.
They were pleased with their efforts and the visual reward they received.
It was a tough day for my legs, doing Ben Lawers as well as Beinn Ghlas, and carrying group kit as well as my own stuff. Thankfully I’m scheduled in with two days off to recover, but not before nipping to Weem woods to go sport climbing with Dave Nelson that evening!