Haberdashers Expedition 2021
At the end of July we ran a Wilderness trail in Scotland for 11 young people from schools across England and Wales. This programme was supported through a long-standing relationship between The Haberdashers Company and WFUK. Each young person had applied for a Haberdashers Scholarship to cover the trip costs and essential outdoor clothing/equipment for the trip. The 6 boys and 5 girls aged between 18-21 came from state, grammar and private schools with two at university.
Originally the trip was planned as a Wilderness Safari trail in South Africa with WFUK’s sister organisation Wilderness Foundation Africa and the Wilderness Leadership School. Sadly, circumstances meant that this wasn’t possible in 2021 and so a trail in Scotland was created and lead by WFUK’s Scotland Manager.
The 8 day trip started in Fort William with one night spent at the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel directly below the UK’s highest mountain Ben Nevis. The first four days were spent on a wilderness canoe camping trip along the remote and beautiful Loch Shiel, Scotland’s 4th longest freshwater loch. Starting at Glenfinnan the group canoed down to Dalelia over four days with three wild camps in truly stunning locations. The weather was great and with light winds on all but one afternoon they enjoyed a serene paddle only seeing one other canoe on the first day and last day. Otherwise, they had the loch to themselves.
The group worked wonderfully together and everyone did their bit on camp chores and cooking delicious meals etc. Part of the process was completing the John Muir Discovery Award as well as completing their Leave No Trace Awareness certificate. They discovered and explored this stunning wild place with lots of questions and discussions and much laughter. Swimming in the loch became a daily pleasure for everyone. They visited the remote cottage of Gaskan where Mike Tomkies wrote his book A Last Wild Place and they also visited the beautiful and haunting burial island of St Finnan’s Isle.
After the canoe phase they did a day and a half of conservation work with rangers from The John Muir Trust (JMT) and The Nevis landscape Partnership (NLP). 10 out of the 11 young people summitted Ben Nevis and everyone collected litter on their way down. In total the team removed 17.5 kgs of rubbish from the path. The next day they worked in one of the NLP tree exclosures where new trees are planted and protected from deer and sheet by fences. The young trees were getting overshadowed by bracken and so the team went in and bent all the bracken back from around the trees to give the young trees more light. The final afternoon was spent exploring the Steall Falls area before returning back to create some group artwork which represented all aspects of the week together.