Queen Elizabeth’s School’s annual trip to Scotland took place in the Cairngorm’s in the Scottish Highlands recently. As part of their BTEC in Sport, QE students have the opportunity to go on a winter mountaineering trip to develop skills and techniques they would need to tackle mountains in winter conditions.
‘On the first day we had good snow conditions in the morning so the plan was to summit Meall a’ Bhuachaille and visit the Ryvoan Bothy. Although we didn’t reach the summit due to poor weather, we made it to the hut and found a fire blazing! Day 1 was a chance to use our crampons, many of us for the first time. Everyone managed to get the hang of them quite quickly, aiding us in both ascent and descent from the mountain.
Day 2 we planned a much longer walk, almost 18km, which in snow was hard going! We visited the famous Utsi Hut which housed the man who established the first reindeer herd in the Cairngorms. From Rothiemurchus forest the group made their way along the Allt Druidh river towards the Lairig Ghru, a stunning u-shaped valley carved out by glaciers. After picking our way through the Chalamain Gap, we walked through the forest, making it back to the bus in the dark.
The third day in Scotland was a chance to learn ice axe skills that could be used in an emergency situation. A fun morning of sliding around on the snow, digging holes and abseiling down slopes, preceded an afternoon of route planning inside to avoid getting drenched in the afternoon’s showers and gales.
On day 4 of the trip we drove to Loch Laggan to start up towards Craig Meagaidh. Adverse weather meant conditions were not ideal to get to the cairn, but we made the most of the day and the scenery where we could!
The last day was summit day! Favourable forecast meant that we were able to summit Cairngorm! Fantastic sun and snow on the last day of our Scotland adventure. A brilliant end to a great week in the Scottish Highlands! Thank you to our leader, Mike, who, with his expertise, makes this trip possible for us, and to all the staff involved with the trip.