High winds, high plateaus, high adventure (but low water and creative instruction) maintained the ambitions of Ex Northern Jacobite Venturer (Ex NJV). Our now annual Scottish exploit is in it’s 6th year and is successfully delivering all five phases of a cadet’s five year development plan.
Exercise Northern Jacobite Venturer is a multi activity week designed to give cadets the opportunity to produce a tangible outcome to the adventure training elements of their cadet experience. Expeditioning in March and April in such wild areas of Scotland certainly exceeds the requirements of the DofE Awards but is made achievable by exploiting the additional leadership and determination that comes from non DofE training that the cadets receive, such as leading close target recces or organising teams of junior cadets during summer camps. In addition, Giggleswick’s location in the Yorkshire Dales and the Giggleswick Certificate programme means that most students will have been over Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent not to mention their day to day exposure to weather, giving them a greater exposure to inclement conditions than most, and lays the foundation for the challenge Ex NJV offers.
Snowfall and increasing winds on Thursday night saw the establishment of “Plan B” on Friday morning and demonstrated the significant competence and capability of the Giggleswick staff team, determined to ensure that the week’s programme could go ahead. At 0600, in a layby on Rannoch Moor and after discussion with MoD transport managers and meteorologists, the decision was taken to go ahead with “Plan A”. It is a significant compliment to the parents of Giggleswick students that the coach was filled and ready to depart by 0930 ahead of the worst of the storm yet to hit North Yorkshire.
Serendipity saw this year’s exercise moved from Norwegian Lodge in the Cairngorms, to Kinlochleven, south of Fort William, allowing us to accept a 20% increase in cadet numbers.
Second only to logistics are the challenges imposed by the weather. We had 14” of snow and whiteouts at the valley floors, and days of blazing sunshine where one was overdressed in shorts. This year was certainly at the extreme end of the scale where gusts of 90mph kept training close to the centre in the early part of the week while the expedition phase saw our 2500 km2 training area in beautifully Alpine conditions – blue skies, snow covered peaks and clear, frozen valley floors.
Our thanks go to the Ulysses Trust for awarding us a grant that allows us to employ the very high quality instructors who facilitate such an ambitious programme.