DofE - Droving Journey

‘In the tracks of the Highland Drovers’

The Duke of Edinburgh's group from Caol Youth Centre in Fort William embarked on the first DofE Expedition in Scotland to use ponies.  On the lead up to their expedition they took part in workshops and training to give them the skills they need to follow the tracks of the Highland Drovers. Examples of the activities, images, a video made by the girls and some background to how they became involved in the Stories in the Land project are below.

DofE Practice Ride & Meet the Drovers Celebration

After four months of extensive training and workshops, the DofE girls were ready to embark on a practice ride following an old drove route near Lochaline.

The expedition was not without its challenges.

However, by working together, and placing trust in their ponies and each other, the girls arrived tired but exhilarated at Achnaha Community Woodland on 31st July, where they were met by friends and family… and a group of 18th century drovers camped by the shore!

Before joining the drovers for an evening of stories and songs around the fire, the young people rode their ponies bareback in a sheltered bay in the Sound of Mull – an experience the girls will remember for many years to come. The excitement continued the following day when, despite the remote location and less than perfect weather, around 150 people joined the group for a ‘Meet the Drovers’ celebration. RSGS ran this very successful event in partnership with Room 13 International, Morven Community Trust, Caol Youth Centre, the Abernethy Trust, Ardgour Riding School, Achnaha Community Woodland and Marine Harvest.

Background to the Duke of Edinburgh Droving Journey

Shela Ryan is the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Co-ordinator based at Caol Youth Centre and is responsible for taking groups of young people through the Award in the most educational and interesting ways possible. Shela is passionate about ponies & the outdoors and was delighted when her latest group of enrolled young people decided they wanted to take part in their expedition on horseback. The young people are all members of the Pony Club and regularly ride with Clare Cameron the proprietor of the Ardgour Riding Centre.

Shela and Clare joined forces with Abernethy Trust at Ardgour to help the young people complete the extensive training required to take part in the Award so they are prepared for challenges and potential incidents that they may face on the expeditions. As part of the Duke of Edinburgh's expedition experience, the young people have to complete a project/presentation. It is always a source of concern that it should be something significant and not just a rush job at the end to complete the expedition section.

Shela was really excited when she heard that the ‘Stories in the Land’ project was based around old drove routes. She knew this was too good an opportunity to miss out on. Not only would it provide something solid that would be able to fit the criteria for the expedition presentation, but it would also give the young people an amazing learning experience.

Joyce Gilbert, Education Officer with RSGS recognised that Shela’s ideas for the Duke of Edinburgh's group fit perfectly with the aims of the ‘Stories in the Land’ project. RSGS has provided funding to support with the pony training required. In addition, RSGS has provided funding for film-making workshops run by Room 13 International and a writing workshop with poet Christian McEwen. Both should help the young people to be able to make a unique record of their own journey.

Video Made by the participants

The girls took part in a number of activities to prepare for the journey...

Natural horsemanship training with Bonny Mealand - While all the girls have experience of riding, they also need to learn about how to safely lead a pony over wild and rough terrain.

Campcraft and expedition planning - The group went on a canoe expedition with the Abernethy Trust where they stayed overnight in a bothy and learned about campcraft.

Fund-raising - The group have run a variety of fund raising events including a car wash.

Learning new skills with the fire service - Working together as a team and dealing with emergencies provided the focus for sessions with the local Fire Service.

First Aid (for ponies and people!) - Each DofE group has one person trained in equine first aid and another person trained to deliver first aid to people. All girls have had basic first aid training.

Slideshow of images of these activities

RSGSImages's DofE Droving album on Photobucket
Route Planning - Understanding and being able to use maps confidently is a very important part of any expedition. The girls have been to mapping and orienteering sessions with staff from Abernethy Trust.

Creative Journaling workshop - Keeping a journal is not a new idea. Many famous explorers used journals as a way of recording their expeditions. While film and audio has largely replaced writing, keeping a creative journal remains a unique and important way of recording a journey. Writer Christian McEwen has been keeping a journal since she was a child. She ran a workshop for the Duke of Edinburgh's group at Kilmalieu in Ardnamurchan in July. Working indoors and outdoors Christian showed the girls how to make simple ‘seed’ books to record & collect ideas. She also shared some journaling tips including how to sketch and make quick notes and observations.

Pony Art and Outdoor Sculpture workshop - Room 13 International has offered a variety of workshops to the Duke of Edinburgh's groups including film-making and life-drawing of their ponies with tutors Richard Bracken and Sarah Hughes. At the beginning of July, the girls created a sculpture of a horse on the wild shores of Kilmalieu, Ardnamurchan, using materials collected on the beach.

Slideshow of images of these activities 

RSGSImages's Route Planning and Pony Art album on Photobucket

RSGSImages's DofE Girls Meet the Drovers at Lochaline album on Photobucket

1 comment:

  1. Do you subscribe to any other websites about this? I'm struggling to find other reputable sources like yourself

    fire service software