North west pupils bid a wild farewell as they get set for high school

Primary 7 pupils complete John Muir Award as part of Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape project

Credit susan pease detail

Before breaking up for the summer and moving on to Ullapool High School, 34 pupils from feeder primaries in Lochinver, Stoer, Achiltibuie and Ullapool have completed an exciting outdoors mission.

The three month long project, ‘Discovering Wild Places’, was delivered by Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape, (CALL) and focused on the woodland, rivers and mountains of the area, as part of the John Muir Award scheme.

It involved diverse range of nature conservation activities including heather monitoring on the slopes of Quinag, wildflower identification at Little Assynt estate, tree sampling in Culag Woods and exploring the freshwater species around Loch Assynt.

It began in back in April, when pupils braved freezing hail to study heather growth on the foothills of Quinag, and ended at Inchnadamph, where the group studied river invertebrates, hunted for mussels, competed in a duck race and saw electrofishing in action.

Along the way, they learned a range of outdoors skills including GPS, tagging seedlings and tracking wildlife. The work culminated in the delivery of John Muir Award certificates to all 34 pupils who completed the course.

Organisations which worked with Ullapool High School’s feeder primaries to deliver the programme included Little Assynt Tree Nursery, Highland Council Countryside Rangers, the John Muir Trust, West Sutherland Fisheries Trust and Culag Community Woodland Trust.

Susan Pease, Outreach Officer, for Little Assynt Tree Nursery, said: “The Discovering Wild Places project gave the pupils a chance to look at the wild spaces around them a bit closer up. They loved it and have got a lot out of the experience. We’ve been talking a lot about conservation and why it’s important to look after these places.”

Lucy Sparks, Scotland Project Manager for the John Muir Award, said: “We’re heartened to see a wide cross-section of community groups and individuals coming together to deliver the John Muir Award in such an imaginative way.

“These young people have learned skills that will remain with them all their lives. We wish them all the best for the future as they move on to Ullapool High School.”

In addition to Ullapool High School’s feeder primaries, the following organisations and individuals contributed to the Discover Wild Places project: Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape; Little Assynt Tree Nursery; John Muir Trust; Highland Council Countryside Rangers; West Sutherland Fisheries Trust; Culag Community Woodland Trust; Susan Pease; Romany Garnett, Don O’Driscoll; Andy Summers; Adam Beynon-Jones; Shona Marshall; George Vestey.

Photograph courtesy of Susan Pease