My last post, which was longer ago than I intended, featured the trip I made to Fort William back in February for the Mountain Festival. The beauty of knowing people who live there now is that I found myself back there a few weeks later, after following my curiosity and responding to a tweet which intrigued me.
That tweet was from the Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research (CRTR), a research centre at the University of the Highlands and Island's School of Adventure Studies, based in Fort William. I'd been following the account for a while as the centre is involved in a number of projects I'm really interested in, including Sustainable Heritage, Adventure Tourism and Slow Adventure. They were looking for people to get involved in module testing as part of a project called ADVENT (Adventure tourism vocational education and training) focussing on Guiding and Interpretation. I'm always excited at opportunities to learn and was so pleased to get offered a place on the course, especially as I knew that other participants would be coming from Iceland and Finland - countries that are partners in the project.
The three day course was really varied, with some classroom teaching, outdoor learning, site visits and trips - all with opportunities for personal and group reflection. Stef Lauer of Hands on Consulting was our course instructor and guide and really made the week enjoyable and informative by enhancing our understanding and appreciation of the places we visited. I particularly loved standing on the shore of Loch Sheil next to the Glenfinnan Monument listening to Stef tell the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie arriving there to start the Jacobite risings...
We discussed 'sense of place', what that is and why it can enhance the experience of visiting somewhere or doing an adventure activity - a combination of the history, culture and the natural environment. Having studied interpretation previously, it was also great to revisit this topic and think more about how people connect to a place, and how stories can be a part of that.
We also looked at what makes a good guide, including responsibilities and environmental awareness. As part of our learning experience and to find out more about our surroundings, we spent an afternoon native tree planting with the Nevis Landscape Partnership in Glen Nevis. The rain and mist were pretty atmospheric and didn't dampen our spirits at all from this enjoying this beautiful glen, and knowing we'd helped to enhance its natural habitat.
Our course leader Stef is also a 'Leave No Trace' trainer, so we all learned about what that means, and got certified through our training that week. If you haven't heard of it before, there are 7 principles for enjoying the outdoors in a responsible way:
The Nevis Landscape Partnership also shares on its website what they've called 'beyond leave no trace' with some useful guidance on ways to make your time adventuring in the outdoors even more sustainable and responsible. I particularly like 'Educate yourself & others about places you visit' which is something I certainly try to do, and I love it when others share information about places too.
As with most things in life, it was the people I was with that really enhanced the experience. I was made to feel very welcome as most of the others had met before, and hearing about tourism in other countries was really valuable. There was also lots of laughter, sharing of stories, fascinating guides and instructors and even delicious Icelandic chocolate eggs! I attempted to speak the language...badly I'm sure.
Nan Shepherd is one of my favourite nature writers, and she was mentioned on the course, so I thought it would be appropriate to share a quote of hers (you can probably tell by now that I love a quote) She wrote "Knowledge is never finite - a goal to be reached or a state to be achieved" As Stef kept saying, every day is a school day, and for me that is what keeps life interesting. I hope I'll get the chance to put some of my learning into practice soon, and I may even get to take part in other modules later in the year.
I'd love to hear from you what you think makes a good guide or any examples of engaging interpretation you've experienced? What helps bring a place to life for you?
I’ve been spending more time in Fort William recently, having not visited it since I was a little girl. Each time I arrive I'm just in awe at the dramatic surroundings and the changing light, and of course the imposing Ben Nevis which commands the landscape.
The last weekend in February was the mountain festival there, albeit with unseasonably warm weather and a lack of snow on the hills. My main festival activities were going to talks and film screenings, but there were practical workshops running over the weekend too. My top three highlights included:
The start of this year has been a busy one. I began 2019 in Dumfries and Galloway, and have since been to Fort William, the Peak District (the picture above was taken at Stanage Edge) and the Linlithgow, Queensferry and Falkirk areas. I've also spent some time in Inverness, Dundee and had my first bothy experience
… and its only mid-February.
This is more of a personal post than I’ve done before, but January always seems to make people think about what they'd like to do in the coming year, and I wanted to share a bit about my plans for 2019. That makes more sense with a bit of context about 2018, as planning too far ahead is not always easy at the moment. I don’t want to go into it too much on here, as it’s not my story to tell as such - although it has had a huge impact on my life - but I think this quote (from good old Pinterest) sums up how last year started and has continued to impact ever since.
A museum without walls. No roof – just the sky above it.
I love the concept of an ‘Ecomuseum’ and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn more about Skye’s Ecomuseum sites around Staffin in the North East of the island earlier in October.
Not to sound too much like I’m writing an essay, but I wasn’t entirely clear on what an Ecomuseum was before the trip, so here is a definition (by Oxford dictionary):
“A type of interdisciplinary museum presenting the history and heritage of a particular community or region in the context of its society, culture, and natural environment.”
Some of you may know I did a masters course a few years ago in Heritage and Interpretation. Although the course was run through a school of Museum Studies, I always preferred the idea of experiencing heritage in its natural environment. With the Ecomuseum, all the exhibits are located in the environment, with various types of interpretation telling their stories.
You can probably tell from this picture already why I fell in love with the island of Fair Isle after being lucky enough to spend two whole weeks there in August 2017. Ever since then, all I've wanted to do is go back. I tried to write a post about last year's trip several times, but could never quite find the words to describe the experience I had (and I'm not sure I still can) but I finally made it back there a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to share some of my love for Fair Isle with you.
It is a truly magical place. Only 3 miles long by one and a half miles wide, it's located between Orkney and the Shetland mainland, and is home to around 60 people. Since 1954 it has been owned by the National Trust for Scotland, and it was through the organisation's working holidays that I ended up on the island in 2017. I'll do a separate post about them, and the fact I have been going on these holidays for the past decade, as there is so much to say.
A couple of weekends ago my Saturday featured two things it wouldn't have this time last year - coffee and cycling. Having owned a bike (ashamedly) for around 3 years, I only started going out on it a few months ago. I started seeing cycling everywhere, including posts from the lovely Iona on Instagram who was cycling on her commute to work, and looking happy about it! My mum had also been out on her bike with my nieces and nephews and was encouraging me to go too. Feeling bad for Etienne (the name already given to my bike) sitting gathering dust in my garage, it was time to get out and go for a spin... is that what you even say about cycling?!
After a few outings on my local trail called the Deeside Way, which is mainly an old railway line between Aberdeen and Ballater in Aberdeenshire, I ventured a bit further afield to another old railway line (also in Aberdeenshire) called the Formartine and Buchan Way. After 20 minutes trying to cram my bike into the car without removing any part of it, I drove to Ellon - where my friend lives and we were starting the route - and we cycled part of the Ellon to Udny Station section.
So, I've got to nearly 35 years old and realised I'd never actually climbed a Munro. I'm sure most of you will know what that means, but a Munro is a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3,000 feet (914 m). I've been walking and hillwalking around Scotland for more years than I care to remember, but none of those hills were apparently over 3,000 feet! My dad has been an avid hillwalker and long distance trail walker for over 20 years, and has inspired much of my walking and exploring, so I wanted to summit my first Munro with him. We chose Lochnagar in the Cairngorms National Park which as one of our closest, and a local favourite (I think you will see why from the photos - it's a beauty) and a couple of weeks ago we did a 12-13 mile circular walk up Lochnagar and then down to Loch Muick. Some of the views literally made me say 'wow' over and over. You can follow the route here.
I think there are both positives and negatives to social media. For me, it's about about being selective about what content you are consuming, and of course creating. I like to see posts that inspire me, and give me ideas, and try to only follow people or brands that do just that. It can be a great way to share your passions, 'meet' - even virtually - people you feel you can connect with, and its also a good way to express your creativity.
There are so many people I enjoy following on Instagram, but one lovely lady I wanted to mention in particular is Iona, who runs the account Iona Adventuring I'm not sure when I started following her, but I love seeing the posts of her adventures around Scotland and she has such a positive attitude towards the benefits of getting outdoors and being active. She also posts some awesome stories of what she's up to, and watching her cycling stories gave me the push I needed to get out on the bike I'd owned for nearly three years and not ridden! (posts on that to come...)
There's something about finishing work early, jumping in the car and making the most of a summer evening outdoors. I recently did this with my friend, and fellow wild swimming enthusiast, Cheryl. We don't live too far from each other, so decided to head further out Deeside and go for a walk and a swim at Loch Kinord, near Dinnet in Aberdeenshire.
The loch was nice and mild so we stayed in for a good 45 minutes to an hour, mainly paddling about and doing a bit of swimming too. It was so calm and relaxing.
I'm Kelly. A thirty-something year old adventurer from Aberdeenshire. Read more about me in the ABOUT ME section.