Monday mornings usually bring misery to the majority of us, but not for a group of lucky Sailors from HMNB Clyde, who managed to beat that dreaded feeling and found themselves on their way to the beautiful landscapes of Aviemore in the Highlands for a week of Adventurous Training (AT). Exercise Cairgorm Crusade was a highlight on the calendar of HMS Neptune, where over the space of two weeks, 40 or so service men and women of all ranks and rates were encouraged to get out of their usual workplace and into the great outdoors to breathe in the fresh Scottish air in the name of AT. Activities in the week included hill walking, mountain biking and canoeing. No experience was needed, just a positive attitude and a willingness to try something new!
Once we had arrived and were allocated rooms at Rothiemurchus Lodge, we were broken into groups and sent out on an orientation (Challenging Activity) walk, using some good old map and compass skills. Not only was this a good refresher, it was also an opportunity for individuals get some practice in for LRLC and SRLC courses that they might have coming up, as well as a great way to introduce the hill walking activity later in the week. Groups were treated to a hike up the 3rd highest peak in the UK, Braeriach, at 1296m. The views from the top, everyone agreed, were well worth the scrambling and enduring the howling wind for!
Mountain biking always seems to be a favourite and it was no different here – Aviemore has an array of tracks to suit any level, from beginner to advanced. Everyone got stuck in, no matter how scary the sport seemed. Wtr Todhunter commented to me one evening that “mountain biking was an activity I had never tried before and I felt nervous on the day. However, LPT Will Callen (ATI) provided good advice and instruction, which put my mind at ease. I personally found the mountain biking challenging but very enjoyable and would certainly like to get more involved in the activity after my experience. We biked nearly 24 miles in the day. Mountain biking isn’t about the miles, it’s about the smiles!”
Canoeing took the award for the overall favourite. Whilst cruising down a long and winding river, two to a canoe, we had to put our balance and team work to the test by way of many fun activities, which of course ended up with plenty of bodies in the water! A great day of team building which was rewarded with a hot meal cooked up by the resident chef back at the lodge.
As well as developing leadership skills and encouraging personal development, AT is a great opportunity to just get out of the office and meet some new people. The whole trip was a complete success, from the planning and hard work from HMS Neptune PT department to the can-do attitude of the personnel who took part, and we can’t wait to do it all again next year!