Lismore’s mountain adventure

May has been Mountain Month at Lismore Primary School. The children began the project by comparing the highest mountain on each continent with Ben Nevis and Lismore’s own highest point of Barr Mor. They made scale pictures of each mountain to compare the range of heights. They then went on to look at how mountains are actually formed and travelled to Glencoe to look at the volcanic and ice age activity that shaped the landscape. They also looked at the basalt, slate and quartzite layering in the Ballachulish Quarry.

During the field trip they found all sorts of different types of rock – granite, slate, conglomerate from the volcanic activity and tiny cubes of fool’s gold in the slate. The children went on to learn learnt the Gaelic names of some of the mountains and their meanings. Each child then wrote their own factual explanation about mountain building. Though not an easy task, the children worked really hard to produce some excellent writing.

The final activity of Mountain Month was a hike to the top of Beinn Lora. Preparation for this started at the beginning of the month with regular fitness sessions focussing on stamina. The circuits included exercises such as Mountain Climber, Speed Skater and Fast Feet and the improving stamina could be seen as the weeks went by. The children also learnt that other preparations were necessary if they were to keep safe on the hike. They made their own risk assessment and planned their route using grid references and an OS Map. They also learnt about safety, taking care of the countryside and what to do in an emergency. Each child collated all their knowledge in their own Mountain Safety leaflet. With the leaflets completed the children were well equipped to conquer Beinn Lora.

On the day of the ascent the weather was windy and showery but nevertheless the intrepid explorers boarded the ferry for Port Appin, sporting rucksacks packed with lunches and waterproofs. They arrived at the car park in Benderloch raring to go despite the midges and a bit of drizzle. Clutching maps they began the ascent through garlic scented woodland. It wasn’t long before the path steepened. As the children climbed steadily, the weather began to improve, with little rain or wind. After a particularly steep section the children were relieved to see a handy picnic spot with a magnificent view over the Lynn of Lorn. They rested for a while with a snack, a drink and a quick quiz about the mountains of the world. Feeling refreshed, they set off again and soon the top of Beinn Lora came into view. It still looked a long way away off and very high! As the path reached the edge of the forest, the children had a bird’s eye view of the runway at North Connel, the Connel Bridge and of course, the island of Lismore.

The terrain now changed to moorland, with some very wet ground to cross as well as one or two steep and rocky outcrops to negotiate. At last, after a final steep climb, the children reached the top with its 360 degree view ranging from Ben Cruachan, to the Glencoe mountains, Barcaldine, Mull, and on round to Oban. They tucked into a well -deserved lunch as they admired the view and discussed their hike. All too soon, it was time to set off for the long walk down. Everyone was very cheerful and the sun had even come out. There was time for a diversion to the Eagle’s Eyrie, which is a viewpoint overlooking Benderloch with a superb vista of Lismore. With binoculars, the children were able to pick out the school, their houses and even the new wind turbines. The path then descended back through the forest and the group quickly arrived back at the car park just in time for an ice cream, before returning to Port Appin to catch the ferry home. Congratulations to all the children for taking up the challenge of reaching the top and achieving it in great style. Some of the children are now keen to try a higher mountain next time although others are happy just to say they got to the top of Beinn Lora!

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