05 Jun Two weeks as a TMTP trainee…
Our new Upland Path Trainees started at the end of May. We have 14 trainees in total, 8 working in Loch Lomond and Trossachs and 6 working in the Cairngorms. Emma Levy one of our Lomond trainees wrote a short article about the experience so far:
“Yet often the mountain gives itself most completely when I have no destination, when I reach nowhere in particular, but have gone out merely to be with the mountain as one visits a friend with no intention but to be with him.”
– Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain
It’s been two weeks since I started as a upland path trainee with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland, working across Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park restoring and repairing the mountain paths that are crucial for the protection of vulnerable mountain habitats. Getting to spend six months in the mountains – how could anyone turn down that opportunity? It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, but here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve been up to since we started!
After getting to know each other and being introduced to the course and the work we would be undertaking during our time as trainees, we headed up to Aberfeldy in beautiful Perthshire to spend three days learning more about Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland, meeting the Cairgorms trainees, learning essential mountain skills and doing a bit of hillwalking at the end! Getting together as a big group was a great experience, where I really felt part of a big team of people passionate about Scotland’s mountains. It helped me to see the bigger picture – the wider project that I’m a part of that covers two national parks and hundreds of metres of mountain paths. We bagged some first aid skills, then got a fascinating talk from CEO Dougie Baird, who shared with us the history of the organisation and how they have contributed to outdoor access in Scotland – I’m sure everyone came out feeling as inspired as I was! The best part of the trip was the guided walk up Schiehallion, where the very knowledgeable Chris Goodman of the John Muir Trust introduced us to the fundamentals of upland path construction and the importance of environmental awareness when planning and constructing paths. We also got the best weather of the year to be out on the hill, although there were plenty of burnt cheeks and necks by the end of it!
Back in Loch Lomond, our second week has taken us along four paths, up two hills and across the extremes of weather in the national park. We also got our first test of working alongside the abominable midge but I’m sure it’s something we’ll get used to (or at least we’re all hoping so!). There’s been plenty of paperwork in preparation for working on the hill, including path surveys and risk assessments, which are all requirements of professional path work, but we can’t wait to get out and get stuck in to the practical work. Nevertheless, we still got to work outside, and ascended Ben A’an on a glorious sunny day. Ben Ledi wasn’t as forgiving – we got soaked! But there will be plenty of time throughout the traineeship to enjoy what Ben Ledi has to offer, as well as the other hills around Loch Lomond.
So that’s the first two weeks – here’s to the next six months!