28th November 2014
A group of path construction trainees in the Cairngorms National Park are feeling on top of the world today (Friday 28th November) as they receive their SVQ in Environmental Conservation Level 2.
The group of eight from all over the UK, literally had a mountain to climb to gain their qualifications with one training stint involving an 810m hike up Meall a Bhuachaille to work every morning, before they had even picked up a spade!
Since the course started in April this year, the group of trainees have been involved in various activities including upland path work, lowland path work, dry stane dyking, habitat management, machine work, business management and fencing.
For the first time in the four years that the course has been run by the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust (COAT), three women have taken part. Sarah Lawther from Kingussie, Carly Raines from Wigan and Amelie Sumpter from London beat off stiff competition from around 200 other applicants to join the training crew. Other trainees this year were Neil Banks from London, Matthew Rochester from Preston, Alex Brown from Carr-Bridge, Josh Lee from Inverness and Ryan Ward from Kingussie.
The Path Skills Training course is part of the Cairngorms Mountain Heritage Project, a four year, £2.1million initiative aimed at conserving the fragile mountain environment of the Cairngorms National Park by improving upland paths in order to sustain increasing numbers of visitors.
Training Officer with COAT Gordon MacDonald commented: “This year’s path trainees have been outstanding and have had to develop their skills and knowledge in some pretty tough conditions and terrain, with all the wet weather we had earlier in the year. I am very impressed with all of them and have no doubts about them securing employment in this sector in the future. In four years, we have seen 28 path trainees come through this programme and they have all gone on to work in the industry either as employees or indeed as three previous trainees did, start their own business.”
Presenting the trainees with their certificates this morning, COAT chair, Peter Ord said: “The skills and knowledge base that is being built up through this training course is extremely important to the Cairngorms National Park to ensure that our fragile environments are protected for the future. Also – and just as important – the results of their labours mean people can access the countryside with a lighter touch, enjoy it more and be active and healthy. ”
You can see photos of the trainees at work on the COAT trainees Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/coat.trainees/media_set?set=a.540050566128832.1073741836.100003716790493&type=1&pnref=story