Week 10 – A Slew of Surfacing in a Myriad of Midges

This week has been the week where we have been trying to tidy things up at our Aberfoyle site. Bringing up, I think Rory said, approx 9 tonnes of surfacing in the power barrow over the last few days. I am a daemon with the ole rake and what a huge difference it has made seeing everything come together!

As it is Friday and I am now officially on holiday, I thought this would be a really good time to look back on the first 10 weeks of the course at just what we have managed to achieve so far.

As well as our site up at Craigmore in Aberfoyle where we have built approx 140 meters of path from scratch, we have also carried out maintenance work on The Cobbler, Conic Hill and on a stretch of the West Highland Way. This is a good opportunity to look at some of my before and after images of what we have achieved and just remind ourselves how much we have learned!


The Cobbler

Conic Hill

The West Highland Way

We have had a chance to meet some great people who have kindly taken the time to teach us more about key areas of Environmental Conservation and have visited some amazing places such as SNH’s Taynish National Nature Reserve,

Taynish NNR

Schiehallion, looked after by The John Muir Turst,


and of course Ben Lomond, protected by NTS.

Ben Lomond

What wonderful weather we have had to kick off the course. It really does make me appreciate where I live more and more everyday. Now the rain has started, it’s time for a wee break. Fingers crossed the sun comes back out in two weeks time when we are off to meet the trainees up in the Cairngorms!

Week 9 – Maintenance and MIDGES!

This was our look for week 9 . A little damp, very warm and working in the forest = Midge haven! (See my twitter for video evidence!)IMG_4571We began on Conic Hill carrying out some maintenance on a damaged section of path which Ryan, Jake and I had surveyed with Tom on Friday. We highlighted an area that included two very full cross drains, some large steps needing a bit of extra support from anchor bar box steps and a large open section needing re-pitched with stones taken from site. We dug out a side ditch for drainage and the wooden stairs required some revetment stones inserted to hold in the surfacing and keep walkers from diverting off to the sides.

The main reason for us being on Conic Hill was to show the project partners an example of the work we carry out, highlighting the point that maintenance of paths is such a key element in protecting our hills. The project was launching the ‘Adopt a Path’ scheme, which asks volunteers who go hillwalking to adopt a favourite hill route in Scotland’s national parks. The idea is that they will inspect the paths when they go walking and then report back on its condition. The aim is to create an army of volunteer path inspectors who will help spot damage on paths in the national parks early, so maintenance money and effort can be targeted and effective.

IMG_4530After our glamourous photo shoot in the beautiful sunshine, we tidied up our work site and went on our merry way. I worry that Rory and I will never live down the shot where we had to look into each others eyes and laugh gently whilst yielding our spades! (Rory secretly loved it).

As we are waiting for our new power barrow to be delivered to allow us to finish up at Craigmore, we spent Wednesday on a bit of a recce mission to look for our second path building site. We headed back up the Ptarmigan ridge at Ben Lomond to look at the stone that had been helicoptered in earlier in the year but Kieran decided it was going to be too easy so we ventured over to Bienglas Farm. The current path that takes you up to the summit of Beinglas behind the campsite is extremely eroded and very steep so there is a lot of work to be done. The view from the top is fantastic though!

We spent Thursday and Friday back at Beinglas, but on a small stretch of the West Highland Way doing a bit of maintenance work on a steep and eroded section in the woods. It’s hard to explain quite how bad the midge situation was. Even though we created a barrier with head nets, gloves, trousers tucked into socks, they still found a way! True Scottish summer! We worked away regardless and we’re really pleased with what we achieved in a day and a half.

This week has been a lovely change from our quiet Craigmore site as Conic Hill and the West Highland Way stretch are such a busy routes. We really got the chance to engage with a lot of people who were all so interested, thankful and complimentary of the work we were doing. It makes it feel very worth while.

Week 8 – It’s hot work, but someone’s got to do it

Our daily view from CraigmoreimageTime is flying by with the team finishing almost all of the stone features on our path at Craigmore in the glorious sunshine! We’ve been doing a lot of site tidying, landscaping spoil mounds and ditches and filling in borrow pits ready to begin laying the final surfacing that was delivered on Friday morning.

So, this week I thought I’d take you on a bit of a virtual tour of the path so far to see where it began, and how it has progressed to date.

Before                                                      After

Laika has also decided that my Keela jacket is the new Border Collie must have fashion piece of 2016.imageOn Friday, Ryan, Jake and I had the opportunity to go out with Tom to do some site surveying on Conic Hill and the Ptarmigan Ridge side of Ben Lomond looking at options for our second work site and got the chance to practice some of our site spec surveying skills (try and say that quickly).

Another fantastic week of glorious Scottish weather. It’s definitely selling the idea of working outdoors to me more and more!