Saturday, 18 February 2012

Having fun in the Snow in Strathspey, Scotland.

New snow, driven by a brisk wind, has been falling throughout the Cairngorms National Park since early this morning. Sadly Lecht Ski Centre still has insufficient cover for snowsports but hopefully this latest snow will enable runs to be opened for Sunday  Upper parts of Cairngorm Mountain are presently closed due to the strong winds but there is good skiing and boarding to be had on the Travers & Coire Cas, including the Gun Barrel which has been well filled through this season thanks to the introduction of a snow canon at that location.

All along Speyside people are out taking advantage of and enjoying the variety of outdoor activities available in this beautiful part of the world ~ Strathspey looking particularly picturesque today ~ as if dusted with icing sugar. Here in Newtonmore, walkers are out and about on the wonderful Wildcat Trail ~ the excellent circular path around the perimeter of the village and children of all ages are out playing and having fun in the snow. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Normal Day in Beautiful Strathspey

Picturesque Glen Banchor just to the west of Newtonmore, was at the beginning of the 19th Century heavily populated by crofting families ~ sadly forced from their homes when sheep were introduced. (

This lovely glen, dissected by the lively River Calder ~ a tributary of the Spey, is now popular with runners and hillwalkers enthralled by their surroundings. Also historians visit, fascinated by the clear evidence of old settlements such as Easterton, Westerton, Dalvalloch & Dalchurn ~ small villages that existed before Newtonmore grew up by the railway ~ which brought to Badenoch and Strathspey its first 'outdoor tourism' ~ Victorian gentry from the south coming to the Highlands for the hunting and shooting, made fashionable and popularlised as 'the thing to do' by Queen Victoria and her love of the Highlands and Balmoral in particular.

Almost any day of the week, but especially at weekends, the wee car-park in Glen Banchor by Shepherd's Bridge will have several cars parked but no evidence of their occupants. They have disappeared off to the various corners of the now quiet Glen to enjoy their chosen pastime in the peace and tranquility of this location. Descending back towards Newtonmore ~ behind us Glen Banchor and the Monadhliath (grey mountains) ~ but still on the high ground just above the village, the vista is stunning ~ to the south to snow capped Drumochter hills and to east, across the majestic Spey are the mighty Grampian Mountains or  Monadh Ruadh (red mountains) which includes, of course, Cairngorm ~ Strathspeys winter playground for skiers and snowboarders.http:

Once into the village being a mild weekend day we pass some golfers, bags of clubs slung over the shoulder as they head off for a few holes at Newtonmore's lovely golf course situated on the flood-plain of the Spey. Then along the village Main Street comes two young men, one sporting very dashing 'tartan' patterned shorts, 'walking' their canoes on trolleys towards to the River Spey for a leisurely afternoon's paddle. This is just another normal day in Newtonmore ~ a typical Strathspey village.

Friday, 3 February 2012

ASL Refresher & HSE First Aid Courses facilitated by Spirit of the Spey in Scotland

Weather conditions during the last few days on the Cairngorm Mountain Ski Area has been stunning and although there is not a huge amount of the white stuff ~ the higher pistes ~ Ptarmigan Bowl, Ciste Fairway and Coire Cas have a reasonable amount of good, well pisted snow.

The weather system affecting the British Isles for the last six says has been coming in from the east ~ overland from Russia, bringing a biting easterly wind but very little by way of precipitation. This high pressure area, with no blanket of cloud to stop the cold falling from outer space, has produced the heavy frosts but gifted us beautifully clear starry nights and, although bitterly cold, lovely, sunny blue-sky days.

Brisk north-easterly winds on Cairngorm brought temperatures on Wednesday down to minus 25 degrees ~ skiers and climbers were in definite need of many layers of thermals topped with warm, wind-proof jackets, hats and gloves! Thursday was a day of less wind ~ still blue skies and sunshine ~ described by some experienced skiers and mountaineers as 'positively Alpine'.  Tomorrow I am back on Cairngorm working with a group of eight skiers on their three yearly Alpine Ski Leader (ASL) Refresher course, required to keep their Snowsport Scotland ASL award valid.

Over the weekend ~ I will be delivering a 2-day outdoor first aid course for a small group here at The Beeches Training studio. There are still places remaining on this course. However, course 8th & 9th March is now fully subscribed. Our first aid courses tailored for client needs, validate all outdoor NGB Awards and are suitable for the work-place. For further details of practical first aid training suitable for all log-on to  

Another first aid course on Monday, when I will have the pleasure of working on a 1-day HSE 'Appointed Person' programme with the lovely staff ~ admin/management and guides from the highly acclaimed, Strathspey-based Speyside Wildlife.