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13 June 2022

  • 2nd Battalion The Highlanders ACF

2nd Lieutenant Pinson our Navigation and Expeditions Officer has just returned from taking part in Exercise Knodyart Challenger. Below is her report.

As an overview, this exercise entailed spending Monday-Friday on the Knoydart peninsula, a ferry ride from Mallaig. Throughout the week, cadets and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers from across the UK were challenged with managing their own expeditions, under the guidance of Mountain Leaders, to summit two munros in the area. The bulk of the expedition took place over three days, with teams clocking 53km in distance and a total height gain of 2850m. During this period, both Ladhar Bheinn (1020m) and Luinne Bheinn (939m) were summited.

As a CFAV, this was an invaluable experience in a very challenging environment. Every single person, myself included, was pushed beyond their perceived limits throughout the course of the week. On arrival, each group was given an area of responsibility. I was lucky to work with a fantastic group of cadets who were responsible for the welfare of all participants of the expedition. Despite 13 hours on the ground and over 1300m of ascent in a day, this group stayed up and ensured that the final group to return, who were running significantly later than planned and fatigued, were provided with hot water and hot drinks to recover. The opportunity to demonstrate the mental resilience and physical robustness to endure these circumstances and continue to care for the welfare of others was admirable.

From a personal perspective, this exercise was a fantastic learning curve in my journey to become a Mountain Leader. Opportunities to shadow another Mountain Leader and work with a group of young people are few and far between. I was able to put my navigation skills to the test, assist with dynamically risk assessing complex ground and spend time learning about the environment, including flora, wildlife and geology. My main concern prior to going on this course was around my physical fitness, but it soon became clear that the expedition was delivered in such a way it would accommodate every single person, regardless of their level, on the condition they had the determination to succeed.

I cannot recommend how enjoyable the week was and explain how valuable a learning experience it was for me, both as a CFAV and a ML trainee. Get yourself involved in future AT activities and expeditions and find out for yourself!