Reach Out Project - National Walking Month blog part 2
Each year a small group of students attend a residential as part of the Reach Out project. This year they headed to Lower Foyers to feel the benefit of the great outdoors despite the changeable Scottish weather.
Ross Weatherby joined the students and offered us his journal for National Walking Month. This is part two of four, you can read part one here, and part three here.
It was an early start. We heard the students murmuring at dawn, but the bad weather kept everyone in their accommodation until the agreed 8am breakfast. The students organised porridge and cereal and shared tales of sleepless nights and I decided not to mention the chorus of snoring I heard while doing my night rounds. It had been a wild night of sleet and snow and howling winds, the wee pockets of snow were now blankets covering the hills, it looked beautiful.
The rain stopped and it was time for the day to begin. The residential allows the students to learn so many things from planning and timing a day to reading a map. I have been to Lower Foyers before and had suggested walks, but the students armed with local information plan their own residential and today, ready with lunch, waterproofs, maps, wild life books and a large dose of enthusiasm, headed to Boleskine Burial Ground. Walking along the South Loch we identified trees in the Caledonian forest and encountered a small group of sika deer. There are three types of deer on the south shores, with roe and red being the others.
Boleskine Burial Ground is seeping in local history and provides a spectacular view over Loch Ness. Stories of witchcraft, death, religion and other superstitions always make for a good campfire story and as we settled down for lunch we shared some Scottish legends with each other.
Nearby, there is the Old Mort House, which despite there being no way in apart from a small window, is decorated inside with devilish graffiti. Legend has it that a previous owner of Boleskine house had invoked the lords of darkness and never finished the spell leaving the spirits to roam. Needless to say we didn’t venture up to the house.
After lunch we took a wee wander to the Falls of Foyers, a beautiful walk with trees and much wildlife. The students were impressed. Amongst the trees the students caught and identified insects. We continued onwards to the falls, and despite the uphill struggle we all made it to enjoy the view and what a view it was. Eas na Smuide meaning ‘smoking falls’ was spectacular and made the struggle worthwhile.
Throughout the trip students are responsible for their own organising, cooking and cleaning. They learn to work as a team and as the Reach Out project at its heart is an environmentally friendly project we encourage all our participants to respect their natural surroundings. It is such a joy seeing the students embrace this and take away new understandings about the natural world.