This year's Hawkshead trip must rank as one of the best! From NIOA we had a very small group...where are all the M/W16s? I subjected Emma and Sam to the usual long drive from Cairnryan, which enables me to take the tent and makes for a less stressful journey. The navigation challenge started early as we detoured along 'grass-up-the-middle' roads to avoid an accident, but by reducing the time spent relaxing in the American Restaurant we still made it to the YH by bedtime. We were joined by Chloe, our NI-Scotland
representative, Dave M from OI brought 3 juniors and this year we also joined forces with 2 juniors from EMOA led by Ann-Marie.
Saturday am - Esthwaite - a stunning area (photo). It was physically the hardest with a lot of windblown trees. One of the less mentioned skills our juniors pick up is how to see through the clutter to the underlying ground shapes when vegetation has changed like this. In the afternoon we were on Great Tower. This area is regularly used at Hawkshead and is always a favourite. The map is clear, the contours make sense and the terrain is runnable. The juniors practised corridors, no compass and slopes exercises.
On Sunday morning our training area was Tarn Hows which is again a lovely area. To make things more competitive we ran Trains exercises (M and F teams) with the coaches popping up at odd points to act as interesting distractions. Then those with enough energy tried the picture and control pick exercises.
The night sprint -no rain or mud this year- is the Saturday evening race around the hostel. This chaotic event is possibly the best fun for the spectators watching the apparently random movements of headtorches criss-crossing the hostel grounds. Well done to Dave who would have made the coaches' final if he hadn't stopped to re-assemble someone's broken torch!
As expected, all our athletes benefitted from the skills training, the camaraderie, and especially this year had the chance to properly get to know athletes from another region. The same could be said of us as coaches. It is a great opportunity to see what other squads are doing and to learn from the coaching of other leaders. We particularly benefitted from Ann-Marie's input as she gently chatted with our juniors getting them to analyse the exercises in a very constructive way.
Thanks to the juniors for being a fun bunch, and to Ann-Marie and Dave for their support, help and friendship.