The ability to enrich a visitor’s experience in nature, rests with a broad spectrum of engagement skills, from storytelling to group leadership.
Join us for this immersive 5-night training course in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, for an inspiring insight into rewilding, its role in local economies and how it can transform your engagement with others.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Our small group training courses are designed to provide a transformative learning experience in an inspirational and dynamic environment.
This course is for you if:
- you are a nature-based tourism business or hospitality provider, wishing to enrich your visitors’ experience.
- you are an outdoor guide seeking to add value to your service by incorporating rewilding into your engagement with guests.
- you are a countryside ranger looking to develop your group leadership skills.
- you are a conservation professional needing support to develop your storytelling and interpretation techniques.
- you are an early-career environmental educator looking to expand your knowledge of rewilding and improve your employability.
- you are an enterprising land manager or entrepreneur exploring the business potential of rewilding.
During this course you will learn:
- how to ‘see’ and interpret the landscape and bring it to life for diverse audiences.
- storytelling skills for engaging visitors with Scotland’s rewilding journey and its message of hope.
- about the values and motivations of those who work and live in the landscape, and how ‘ecological blindness’ impacts on the speed and scale of change.
- about people dynamics and how to deliver effective and inclusive group leadership.
- how a diverse range of local businesses have found ways to make rewilding financially rewarding.
- how your business could contribute to a nature-based local economy.
- about the growing potential for innovative nature-based tourism.
- about best practice around sustainability and a ‘Leave no Trace’ approach.
You’ll go away with:
- an appreciation of the potential for rewilding to enrich your visitors’ experience and transform their perspective of Scotland’s nature.
- tools and techniques to effectively integrate the rewilding story into your work.
- a deeper understanding of nature-based tourism and how it contributes to a sustainable local economy.
- an opportunity to network and collaborate with like-minded businesses/ professionals.
- certification for course attendance and 'Leave No Trace Awareness' training.
- a complimentary copy of our landmark book, SCOTLAND: A Rewilding Journey.
Meet the trainers
Peter Cairns: Peter is a long-time advocate for rewilding. He has spent over two decades as a photographer, videographer, nature tourism operator and environmental communicator, and is now SBP's Executive Director.
Stef Lauer: Stef is SBP’s Rewilding Training Lead and will host your learning journey. Her career incorporates hospitality management, nature-based tourism, guiding, training and outdoor education. Connecting people and place is central to all her work.
Lindsey Gibb: Lindsey is an Environmental Storyteller specialising in connecting people to their landscape and environment. She has weaved storytelling into her career as a countryside ranger and an environmental educator in communications and climate change.
Wendy Sylvester: Wendy is Hospitality Manager at Ballintean Mountain Lodge. She is an accomplished cook who is passionate about foraged and locally sourced food.
|DATES: 11-16 Nov 2023||GUIDES: Stef Lauer||STATUS: Open||BOOK NOW|
Stef grew up in Germany and moved to Scotland nearly 20 years ago. She’s lived all over Scotland, from the Orkney Islands to Edinburgh and is now calling the Cairngorms home, where the landscape makes sense to her and is often friend, cure and revelation. Stef's career incorporates hospitality management, nature-based tourism, guiding, training and outdoor education. Connecting people and place is central to all of her work.
- 5 nights’ accommodation in a room with private facilities
- All meals (breakfast, picnic lunch and 3-course dinner)
- All guiding, excursions, presentations and take-home resources
- Pick up and drop off at Kingussie train station
- Certification for course attendance and 'Leave No Trace Awareness' training
- A complimentary copy of our landmark book, SCOTLAND: A Rewilding Journey
- Travel to/from the course
- Travel insurance (it is a condition of booking that a suitable policy is in place)
- Alcoholic drinks (except wine served with dinner)
- Personal expenses
- Climate Impact Contribution fee
Day 1: Welcome
After arrival and introductions, we savour welcoming ‘Scottish’ cocktails and a pre-dinner presentation to address two questions: What is rewilding and why does it matter? We then get together around our farmhouse dining table to enjoy our first evening meal together.
Day 2: Telling the rewilding story
We begin our journey right outside the door with a walk and talk along the River Feshie in our rewilding reserve, part of the Northwoods Rewilding Network and adjacent to the celebrated Cairngorms Connect project. We will discuss the concept of ‘ecological blindness’, along with the values and motivations of those who work and live in the landscape, and how they impact on the speed and scale of change.
People hold the key to the rewilding door and as interpreters and guides, we need to know and understand our audiences, and how we can find out more about them. Focusing on inclusive group leadership and management, we will consider scenarios that may occur in groups with different personalities, priorities and perspectives – honing our skills to enable important and change-making conversations.
Day 3: Distilling the story
Guests: Lindsey Gibb, Environmental Storyteller and Wendy Sylvester, local foodie expert
The first half of the day will be spent with our guest trainer Lindsey Gibb, who specialises in environmental storytelling. Lindsey will help us to explore the many benefits compelling stories can bring to guiding and group leadership.
The primary aim of environmental interpretation is to help people understand the natural world and their relationship with it. During our afternoon session, you will learn how to design accessible and compelling interpretation sessions that will inform and captivate your audience.
To conclude the day, we gather around the dining table to hear from our cook, Wendy, who is passionate about local food and how it ties in with the principles of rewilding.
Day 4: Down to business
In many rural areas, ecological recovery is only possible when it works in tandem with, and benefits, local communities. Today we take the show on the road, visiting a diverse range of local businesses – from food and drink producers to hospitality enterprises - and hear inspiring stories from those who have already found ways to make rewilding financially sustainable.
We begin at Ballintean, where owner Amanda Flanagan, has developed a profitable hospitality business founded on rewilding principles.
We then visit Lynn and Sandra of Lynbreck Croft, who have transformed their upland farm and are pioneers in working with nature to produce high-quality local food. We will learn from their trailblazing story, and the captivating way they tell it.
Then we head off to find out about the work of Cairngorms Connect and their ‘hill to fork’ venison enterprise – another fine example of combining nature recovery, climate resilience and benefits to the local economy.
Day 5: Putting the narrative into practice
We weave outdoor ethics and rewilding principles into every aspect of this course and today we complete your Leave No Trace Awareness training and certification.
In our final session, through an interactive group exercise, we have the opportunity to share our stories and reflect on our experiences of our time in the Cairngorms.
Our time together comes to an end with a final evening of food and conversation.
Day 6: Farewells
We say our goodbyes after a hearty breakfast.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Where do we stay during the course?
Our Rewilding Learning Hub is a beautifully converted farm steading, known as ‘Ballintean Mountain Lodge’ and is located in Glenfeshie, near the village of Kincraig in the Cairngorms National Park.
The lodge has a rustic, contemporary feel with furnishings inspired by nature. All rooms have private facilities and there is Wi-Fi throughout. Mobile phone reception is generally good.
We strive to ensure that the lodge is as accessible as possible to everyone. If you have a disability or a health condition, please let us know at the time of booking and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
What meals are served?
Breakfast and evening meals are taken within our accommodation and prepared by our own catering team. We offer home-cooked, wholesome food prepared with fresh, local ingredients. In the field, we take a picnic lunch and home-bakes. We might also squeeze in coffee and cake stops along the way!
A range of dietary requirements can be catered for, taking into consideration allergies and health conditions, as well as ethics, faiths and cultures. Please indicate your requirements on the booking form and we will try our best to accommodate your needs.
How do I get there?
Public transport is generally reliable and we offer free transfers from Kingussie, our nearest village (8 miles).
Train: Services to Kingussie are regular and can be booked here.
Bus: Services to Kingussie are regular and can be booked here.
Car: Safe parking is available and there is an EV charging point. Directions will be sent as Satnav is not always reliable. Our postcode is PH21 1NX.
Air: Our nearest airport is Inverness (45 miles)
Can you collect me from the airport?
Yes. Inverness airport is one hour from our base and we charge a flat fee of £50 per single airport collection or drop off. This can be shared if there are other members of the group travelling by air. We collect at 4pm on arrival day and drop off at 10.30am on departure day.
How do we get around during the course?
We use a modern, comfortable 9-seater minibus.
Who are your training guides?
We work with knowledgeable and friendly guides and trainers from within the Cairngorms area and specialists in the field relevant to the training course. All guides are familiar with Scotland’s rewilding narrative.
What size are your groups?
We generally work with small groups of up to 8 participants.
Do I need to be fit?
Our excursions generally consist of walks on established paths and tracks but the terrain can be uneven and sometimes wet and/or slippery. Ideally, you will be able to walk at a leisurely pace for up to 5km.
If you have mobility issues or need to take things slow, please let us know and we will be happy to discuss alternative activities.
What do I bring?
A full list of necessary clothing and equipment will be provided on booking.
What will the weather be like?
Weather in the Highlands is very changeable and at any time of year, you should expect anything from warm, calm conditions to wintry squalls. Temperatures are likely to range from 10c to 22c in the spring/summer to 0c to 10c in autumn.
Is the course suitable for me?
If you want to discuss this further, please get in touch with our Rewilding Training Lead.
How does my custom benefit rewilding?
After covering the necessary costs associated with delivering our experiences, such as accommodation, food and transport, we are left with a surplus which, unlike a commercial tour operator with shareholders, is reinvested into our rewilding work.
Do local people benefit from my booking?
Yes. We are committed to developing nature-based business models that show how a landscape rich in nature can also support vibrant communities. Your custom allows us to train and employ local staff and to purchase supplies and services from local businesses. In doing so, we can demonstrate that rewilding is an economically viable land use in Scotland.
Are you encouraging travel that produces harmful emissions?
Fundamentally, we believe that nature-based travel is a force for good. However, it would be easy to ignore the inconvenient truth that travel - air travel in particular - contributes to climate change. As an organisation, we constantly review ways to reduce our carbon footprint, so we can continue delivering high impact experiences with a low impact on the planet.
If you’d like to recognise the climate impact of your own travel to and from our experiences, we invite you to make a contribution to rewilding - an effective way of capturing carbon and returning wildlife to our landscapes. All contributions are paid into this Fund, which enables more rewilding to happen.
OUR REWILDING LEARNING HUB
Set in a private, elevated position, Ballintean Mountain Lodge is a beautifully converted farm steading, perfectly located for exploring the wild landscapes of the Cairngorms National Park.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR REWILDING LEARNING HUB
"Going into the wilderness without a good guide is like going into a library without the ability to read. One can look at the pictures, but there is no true meaning without understanding the text."
Ashely Holland, guide with Guyana Truly Wild