Part Four - Katie
Having grown up in Fort William and spent a lot of time in the area after university I was initially sceptical about how much I'd be able to take from the John Muir Award. However, I was wrong. I really appreciated the prompt to go out and discover and explore places which I thought I knew well. It was refreshing to see places like Steall Gorge, somewhere I've walked through hundreds of times before, through fresh eyes. By just veering off the main path 50m and paying attention to plants and trees I wouldn't normally I was able to appreciate how lucky I've been to live and work in such a special place. Whilst working with the staff from Nevis Landscape Partnership, Woodland Trust and John Muir Trust I learned more about Glen Nevis and Loch Arkaig, places I thought I knew well. I improved my winter tree, bird and plant ID skills. It was fantastic to be learning alongside like-minded people who had all come from different backgrounds. The skills and experiences I was able to learn and share with them are invaluable.
A particular highlight was doing an interpretation project on the people and cultural heritage of South Loch Arkaig, mentored by Woodland Trust's Jessica Maxwell. I found it really enjoyable having time to delve into the history of the area and to produce an interpretation product which might be able help other people understand the past land uses of Loch Arkaig. The other stand out was a week learning how to build drystane dykes, a skill which I'm excited to get out and use again (preferably with less midgies next time)!