Five Openreach apprentices tackled challenging conditions during a practice expedition in Scotland’s Cairngorm mountains in preparation for their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.
The apprentices – Peter Ferrier, Sinead Watt, Cameron Dearden, Craig Hart and Daniel Paul, all based in Scotland – were under the supervision of Duncan Maclennan, Openreach streetworks consultant for Scotland North. He frequently guides people through the mountains with nineonesix-guiding and is a member of the Torridon mountain rescue team.
The Cairngorms feature the highest, coldest and snowiest plateaux in Britain, and five of the six highest mountains in Scotland.
Duncan said: “Taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award scheme will test the apprentices’ determination, give them fantastic organisational skills and help develop their team-building skills. “It’s a demanding course and one from which you can’t easily give up once you have embarked on an expedition. On the practice expedition we were camped around 10 miles from the nearest road.”
The two-day practice will be followed by a four-day practice expedition later this month, which the apprentices must plan and execute, before they take part in the award scheme’s official qualifying four-day expedition starting on 25 October.
This involves a 75km walk from Achnashellach to Gruinard Bay through the mountainous North West Highlands, passing Beinn Eighe national nature reserve. The theme is flora and fauna of the area which they will aim to photograph. Duncan has arranged a talk halfway through from a Scottish Natural Heritage team member to help increase their knowledge of the area.
Duncan added: “The Gold Award also involves the apprentices taking part in volunteering work. They are due to complete the scheme in October next year and, if successful, they will be invited to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh where they will be presented with their award by a member of the royal family.”
blog by Duncan Maclennan