As the first half of the Autumn term drew to a close, a group of twelve cadets and two of their adult volunteers from Morrison’s Academy CCF were preparing to head to the town of Peebles in the Scottish Borders, for a weekend of Adventurous Training. After a quick stop for an evening meal in Falkirk the party arrived at their home for the next two days, Kailzie Bunkhouse.
Saturday morning was one of the days when “normal” people would have simply rolled over and stayed in bed. The wind was strong and it was lashing with rain. However, this did not deter the cadets from setting out on their mountain walk above Peebles. The plan was to complete a 22km-long circuit above Glen Sax and follow the line of hill tops that ring the glen. In a way the poor weather provided an excellent opportunity for navigation training as each of the cadets got the chance to lead their peers on a leg and give a ground brief which included the distance to be covered and the height to be gained. What proved especially challenging, in the less from ideal conditions, was the simple mathematics that underpinned the requirement to calculate the time required for each leg!
According to one of the cadets:
“This was the worst weather I have ever been out in but I have been able to put into practice some of the basic navigation lessons I have been taught back at school.”
As the morning wore on each of the hills on the route was successfully summited and by lunchtime the weather began to improve. By early afternoon all the mist that had shrouded the hills had cleared and the cadets were treated to an impressive vista of where they had been. After seven hours walking a damp and slightly cold party reached the minibus. The warmth of the bunkhouse and a filling meal beckoned.
Sunday morning was a complete contrast to the day before and everyone was glad to see it was dry. After a short drive Glentress trail centre was reached and the group was excited at the prospect of a day of mountain biking. The morning was spent focusing on basic skills such as use of the gears and braking, using a purpose-built skills loop. Once everyone had mastered the basics they moved onto a Green route prior to lunch. The afternoon was spent on the Blue route and the adrenalin levels were high on the long flowing descents. The cadets came away with a sense of personal achievement as all had seen their skill levels on a bike increase over the course of the day.
The weekend showed the cadets that with the correct mind-set challenging conditions can be coped with and such resilience will stand them in good stead for the remainder of their time in the CCF and at school. This venture would not have been possible without the generous financial support of The Ulysses Trust.