Coast to Coast with KMC
The group of Year 2 Extended Diploma in Outdoor Adventure students set out from Fort William up Glen Nevis to Loch Ossian.
There was snow on the mountain tops and good clear weather, and the hike through the valley to Glen Nevis was like a secret oasis with waterfalls and daffodils growing in green pastures.
We left the shelter of Glen Nevis and started crossing the top of Rannoch Moor which is stated as being the last real wilderness in the UK. En route was Corrour railway station famous in film ‘Trainspotting’.
We took a well deserved rest that night at Loch Ossian which houses the most remote Youth Hostel, but it does have a 5 star eco rating!
A tough second day from Loch Ossian to Loch Rannoch but the team pushed on in driving sun, snow, hail and wind - all four seasons in 30 minutes! As the Scottish say ‘If you don’t like the weather just wait 5 minutes’.
By the time the group got to Loch Rannoch the wind was strong from the north east, so they decided to follow the northern shore keeping in the shelter of the mountains before paddling across the Loch in choppy conditions.
Loch Rannoch and the Tummel have the largest set of Hydro Electric plants in the UK and the team had to use their skills in manoeuvring or ‘portaging’ the boats on trolleys around lots of obstacles.
They also got a taste of how a loaded canoe feels on white water paddling under Tummel Bridge before entering Loch Tummel.
From Loch Tummel the students enjoyed more white water and the wind on their backs carried the students towards Dunkeld. With some more portaging around a section of the river Tummel and the dam at Pitlochry, the students worked well as a team helping each other on a 3 kilometre portage in heat that caused them to put on sun shades!
The journey ended with a paddle from Dunkeld to Perth on the Tay which is the largest volume river in the UK, now with some grade 3 white water. Not every boat stayed upright, and a few short cold swims kept the adventure going and smiles increasing!
We finally arrived in Perth after completing the 155km in 5 days.
Anyone interested in starting the Extended Diploma in Outdoor Adventure should contact the Courses Helpline on 01305 215215
“Along the way we were privileged to see some of the most amazing scenery the UK has to offer. We varied our pace due to the nature of the environment we were travelling in as well as the weather.” Jake Hemsworth, 18 and Henry Nias, 19
“Our aim of day two was to reach and then cross Loch Rannoch. This involved walking 17 kilometres across the side of a mountain where we encountered four seasons of weather in a matter of hours from snow, sleet, rain and hail. We then had our first opportunity to cover a large distance in open canoes . The weather conditions weren’t in our favour with a 50mph headwind and severe rainfall but this did not change anything due to the group’s motivation and drive.”
Gemma Nairn, 19and Joe Taylor, 19
“The instructors briefed us on how dangerous flowing water can be. We set about practicing skills needed to ensure we could hit eddies safely and hit the right lines. We practiced a manouver called ferry gliding. This involved us learning how to travel from one side to the other of flowing water quickly and efficiently, without going downstream or falling in. The group’s moral was at an all time high after having experienced our first taste of rapids.”
Michael Pidgeon, 18
“On day four the wind picked up in a north-westerly direction causing much excitement within the group. This was due to the fact that we could hoist sails and use the wind to our advantage, powering down the river. Eventually the River Tummel met up with the River Tay which is the largest volume river in the UK and is one of the top three rivers in Europe.”
Taran Hennessy , 22 and Bryce Riglar, 19