Tuesday 31st August 2021, 12:00pm
For over a year now, Mountaineering Scotland staff have been able to recall what each other look like mainly through Zoom or Teams meetings, but just last week most of us managed to meet up in person for a day out climbing Ben Vrackie.
It was lovely to see each other face to face and to catch up socially too. The good news was that it didnít rain, but most of us confessed that the heat was a tad excessive, and the descent saw a massed bathing of feet in Loch a Choire on the way down and a rush on ice cream and cold drinks at the Killiecrankie Visitor Centre cafť.
This month weíve also celebrated the announcement of a partnership with climbing gear manufacturers DMM International, who will be supplying kit for the RealRock sessions our ClimbScotland team run to introduce young people to climbing outdoors.
The board of directors have been finalising the draft strategic framework taking on board feedback from the staff and also some of Mountaineering Scotlandís key partner organisations. Around 700 members and 1300 non-members responded to our surveys providing us with valuable comments, feedback and, importantly, an indication of what areas of our work we should be prioritising over the next strategic cycle of the organisation.
Our CEO Stuart Younie attended an introductory meeting with the new Minister for Public Health, Womenís Health and Sport, Maree Todd on the 18th of August, representing the outdoor sports bodies. Organised by the CEO Sports Forum, this was an important opportunity to present the issues which the outdoor sports group are focussed on, including the impact of the pandemic on participation in outdoor activities, the need for better data and research, the wider work going on to promote responsible access and public safety information and the impact of climate change.
Stuart has also engaged with Stewart Harris, the CEO of sportscotland, to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities which the outdoor sector is facing in the context of sportscotlandís new business plan. Stewart will be coming along to a future meeting of the outdoor sports group to hear first-hand from senior leaders including snowsports, canoeing, mountain biking and sailing.
Throughout August, we have been sharing trip reports, profiles and videos from our affiliated clubs on social media to highlight clubs as a great way to meet new people, learn from each other and have some fun adventures. There are over 160 hill walking, climbing, mountaineering and ski-touring clubs affiliated with Mountaineering Scotland, with over 6.500 members across Scotland. You can read our club month posts on the Mountaineering Scotland Facebook page.
Itís been a busy month for access issues, with the closure by Network Rail of the much-used Dalwhinnie level crossing making the headlines. Along with the British Horse Society Scotland and Cycling UK Scotland, we are supporting Ramblers Scotland and ScotWays, who are taking the main lead on the campaign, given that it is a village path network issue and claimed right of way. An online petition was launched which we have been promoting and would encourage members to share.
We have also been working with The Highland Council trying to resolve an access problem at Reiff, and looking into recently reported issues in Glen Lyon.
Access & Conservation Officer Davie Black doesnít just react to problems though: his job also involves anticipating potential issues in the planning and development stage and tackling them before they become problems.