Loch Rannoch and Glen Lyon: A Weekend of Cycling and Munro-Bagging

Although I spent a fair chunk of the Easter break penning the penultimate assignment for my PGDE (I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I was to see the back of that particular one), there was still plenty of time for exploring. We opted for the area around Loch Rannoch and Glen Lyon, and while it’s impossible to see everything this area has to offer in the space of a few days, you’re sure to leave wanting more. (I don’t know about you, but I’d far rather a trip ended on that note.) Here’s what we got up to…

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An A-Z of the PGDE

While I was living out in Lyon, my oldest friend was doing her PGCE. She likened it to a year-long driving test – and that analogy rang true for me when I did my PGDE (the Scottish equivalent of the PGCE) this year.

You see, while you’re training there’s always a colleague at the back of the room – just like there’s always someone in the passenger seat accompanying a learner driver. They observe you in action, and provide feedback to help you hone your skills. You reflect on how your lesson went (some will be total car-crashes, others will feel more like a trip in Mr Weasley’s Flying Ford Anglia) and identify which aspect(s) of your practice you need to work on. Little by little, you gain confidence and competence behind the wheel (or stood in front of thirty-odd teenagers, as the case may be).

And then, just like that, the course finishes. Placement 3, done and dusted. The last assignments submitted. You pass. Next time you stand up in front of a class, there’ll be no one* observing you day in day out (which is both exciting and terrifying).

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Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park: Ben Venue

Living in Edinburgh, we’re fortunate that there are oodles of green spaces that are easily day trip-able: the Pentland Hills Regional Park, Lomond Hills Regional Park and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park are all within an hour or so’s drive. Today, I’m going to take you on a virtual tour up Ben Venue to give you a taster of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

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Pentland Hills Regional Park: Hare Hill via Green Cleugh and Threipmuir Reservoir

Hare Hill is one of my favourite spots in the Pentland Hills Regional Park*. Gorgeous views? You bet. Easy to get to? Very much so. But the best bit about Hare Hill is its flexibility. If you want a straightforward out-and-back that’s an option, but I much prefer a circular route – and that’s where Hare Hill comes into its element as there are plenty of options. I’ve got a couple of routes to share (stay tuned for the second… it’s in the works!). First up: Hare Hill via Green Cleugh and Threipmuir Reservoir.

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Scotland in Miniature: 5 Days on the Isle of Arran

The Isle of Arran is often referred to as “Scotland in Miniature”, and for good reason. The Highland Boundary Fault runs right through the middle of it, splitting the island into two distinct landscapes: the quintessentially rolling hills of the Scottish Lowlands in the south, and the dramatic mountains and glens akin to those in the Scottish Highlands in the north.

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Pentland Hills Regional Park: Caerketton Hill and Allermuir Hill

Whoops. This blog post has been lingering in my drafts folder for a solid couple of months. Truth be told, it slipped down the to-do list (and then off it altogether) as soon as my final placement came around. After an evening spent typing up lesson plans and creating resources, the last thing I fancied doing was spending yet more time in front of a screen sifting through photos and writing blog posts. I finished my PGDE last week – and naturally, as soon as the last assignment was complete, Covid struck. (Cue: the weirdest sleep patterns I’ve ever experienced and a cough that is in no hurry to leave.) On the upside, I’ve got a whole summer to unwind and catch up on the blog posts that fell by the wayside over the past few months.

When I’m after a short hike, the loop from Swanston up to Caerketton Hill and Allermuir Hill is my go-to. Why? There’s a decent path (we’ll put the large bog between the two hills to one side for now; it’s not an issue in winter). From the top, there are expansive views across Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. Plus, the slopes are home to some adorable Highland coos.

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North Berwick Law

At the tail end of September, we ventured out to East Lothian. We’d eyed up North Berwick Law on a previous visit to North Berwick, and this time set out with the intention of making it to the top. North Berwick Law is a mile or so to the south of North Berwick, and the route to the top starts from a car park on the north-west side of the hill.

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Water of Leith Walkway: Balerno to Leith

Stretching from Balerno to Leith, the Water of Leith Walkway seamlessly transports walkers from the rural fringes of the Pentland Hills Regional Park to the urban buzz of the city centre and the banks of the Firth of Forth. I’d had my eye on walking the full length of the Water of Leith Walkway for a while, so when I had a bit of time on my hands between leaving my job and starting the PGDE I pulled on my walking boots… and the rest, as they say, is history. I should probably note that walking boots aren’t strictly necessary for this route; I just find them more comfortable than trainers for long walks. Here’s a wee photo tour of the Water of Leith Walkway:

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2021 in Numbers

Normally, I round off the year with a month-by-month breakdown of memorable moments. But, much like last year, by the time December rolled round, I couldn’t remember for the life of me what I’d done in January. Or February, for that matter. (Other than pack our life in Cambridge into boxes and move it 300+ miles up the A1, that is. More on that below.) So I decided to take a slightly different approach. I’ve broken the year up by numbers – some big, some small – which together paint a picture of 2021.

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Cairngorms National Park: Carn Aosta, The Cairnwell and Carn a Gheòidh

When I say this trio of Munros is the [easiest / quickest / insert superlative of your choice here] to bag, I mean it. They’re a hop, skip and a jump from the car park at Glenshee Ski Centre – which is only three hundred metres below the first two summits.

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