Thursday 6th July 2023, 10:46am
June started with a meeting of the Outdoor and Adventure Sports CEO Group. This was set up during the pandemic to provide a support network and has evolved into a forum where issues relating to the outdoors can be raised and discussed, including visitor management, access issues, the provision of facilities and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. At the June meeting, the group were joined by James Allan - the new CEO of the Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education - to hear about what is happening across the local authority outdoor education sector and its links to Education Scotland. The new CEO of sportscotland, Forbes Dunlop, was also in attendance, and was keen to understand some of the challenges and opportunities facing the outdoor sector.
Later in June, Stuart was invited to attend the Scottish Outdoor Consortium Meeting, which has been established to bring representatives from across the wider outdoor sector together to discuss common issues with representatives including SAPOE, outdoor centre managers, and Wild Scotland representing the tourism sector. One of the main agenda items was the new Outdoor Scotland strategy, which was intended to guide the future of the marine and wildlife tourism in Scotland.
Stuart also managed to link up with our Mountain Safety Advisor, Kirsty Pallas, and Sole Sisters for a walk up a very sunny Dumyat. The group were keen to learn some basic navigation and skills to help build their confidence in the hills.
Stuart later attended a meeting of the Mountain Safety Group, where a new framework was agreed which is intended to form the basis of a national action plan for Mountain Safety, with Mountaineering Scotland currently working with Scottish Government to secure support for this project.
Stuart also supported the interviews for new Directors for Mountain Safety and ClimbScotland, as well as welcoming the latest member of the Mountaineering Team - the new Office Administrator, Fiona Kerr. Fiona replaces Denise Logan after 16 years with Mountaineering Scotland, and we would like to convey our thanks to Denise for all her work behind the scenes managing the finances. We wish her a long and happy retirement!
Mountain Safety Team
Summer courses are well underway, with new dates being released for later in the season for our most popular courses. Mountain Safety Advisors Ben Gibson and Kirsty Pallas were in Braemar, running two days of Mountain Navigation Courses at the end of the month - which Mountaineering Scotland Communications Officer, Fiona McNicol, and Membership & Events Officer, Karen McVeigh, also joined.
Senior Mountain Safety Advisor, Ross Cadie, joined Mhor Outdoor for one of their first How 2 The Hills walks, helping introduce a group from the LGBTQI+ community to the joys of walking in the Scottish hills.
Freelance instructors Lucy and Scott ran a Going The Extra Mile navigation course in the Ochils, which is specifically designed to help those aged between 18-25. Big thanks to Ochils Mountain Rescue Team for the use of their rescue base to start the course!
This month also saw Ben Gibson meet up with SARDA Scotland to film a video on how to keep our four-legged friends safe in the hills. Watch out for the new video coming soon!
Ross Cadie attended the North Tick 23 conference which was held at Inverness University and brought together all the research that had taken place from all the nations bordering the North Sea about Ticks and tick-borne diseases.
In June, ClimbScotland caught up with the team at Above Adventure, and were able to check out the now fully open centre following the completion of the second phase of the project. ClimbScotland Development Manager Jamie Smith said: ďIt was great to see catch up with the team at Above Adventure and hear about the amazing work they have been doing, especially supporting people with additional support needs accessing climbing as an activity. We were also able to check out the completed roped arena in the main church which was amazing! Would highly recommend getting along for a climbing.Ē
The 2023 Scottish Youth Climbing Championships took place at Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA) on Saturday 3rd June. This was a great day of competition climbing including, top rope, lead and speed climbing. Special thanks to EICA, the Route Setters, our volunteer Competition Coordinators and all those who volunteered - we couldnít have done it without you!
ClimbScotland also had the privilege of being contact by GB Paralympic Association, who had spotted the amazing work being done by the Scottish Paraclimbing Club and wanted to award them as club of the month in June, as part of their Everybody Moves initiative.
Membership & Communications
After the successful launch of Mountaineering Scotland and the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotlandís new campaign to save mountain paths at the end of May, fundraising for Itís Up to Us ramped up in June, with us reaching our first major milestone of £10,000.
We were also delighted to announce the main corporate sponsor of the campaign as Cotswold Outdoor, as well as several smaller sponsors who have made generous donations to Itís Up to Us so far.
At the end of May/beginning of June, Mountaineering Scotland introduced new digital membership cards for individual members. This is something we have been asked for by many members in the last few years and which we are now in a position to offer thanks to a recent upgrade to our membership system, JustGo. As well as reducing our use of paper products, digital membership cards will also help us make cost savings in other areas, meaning that more of your membership subscription will go into supporting the work we do on behalf of all our members.
Finally, our new Mountaineering Scotland baseballs caps sold out in several colours in June, but are now back in stock, with a new black colour option added to the online store.
Access & Conservation
Mountaineering Scotland, as part of a coalition of community, conservation and outdoor recreation groups, has issued a joint statement expressing concerns about the UK Governmentís rural connectivity deal with four mobile phone operators - EE, O2, Three and Vodafone Ė which would see countless phone masts erected on Scotlandís hills.
The coalition is now seeking urgent meetings with phone operators, and environmental and planning authorities to ensure communities are consulted and damage to Scotlandís wild places is avoided.
Davie Black, Access and Conservation Officer for Mountaineering Scotland said: ďWe absolutely support the principle behind the programme. Local residents and businesses have the right to digital connectivity. But it is communities themselves who are speaking up, saying the siting of the masts will not benefit them. The plan must be paused so we can all sit around the table and get this right. We want to ensure digital connectivity is achieved while protecting Scotlandís last wild landscapes.Ē
The coalition has asked to meet NatureScot and the Shared Rural Network to discuss their concerns and find a way forward. It has also approached planning authorities to establish how much time and resources they will need to assess telecoms mast applications thoroughly. Concerned communities and groups can support the campaign by contacting the John Muir Trustís policy team.