The Mountains & the People

The Mountains & the People

Training Programme Description - 2018

The Mountains & The People

The Mountains the People is aninnovative partnership project which will engage the people of Scotland in the conservation of our two National Parks. The Mountains & The People project is led by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS) supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and in partnership with the two National Park Authorities - Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs - Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage. The project aims to engage those who live in and visit our National Parks, in the protection of their fragile upland mountain environments through a programme of upland path construction, maintenance and environmental conservation activities, leaving a legacy of motivated, well trained people from all backgrounds, to be the custodians of Scotland’s spectacular outdoor spaces.

About OATS

All Trainee Upland Path Workers will be employed by the Outdoors Access Trust for Scotland (OATS),which is a Company Limited by Guarantee and with Charitable Status. The company is specifically designed to develop and deliver outdoor access projects on behalf of the stakeholders spread throughout the Cairngorms National Park, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and the surrounding area. OATS’s offices are approved Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) Centres.

The objectives of the Trust are to:

  • Conserve and protect the natural heritage and environment by encouraging, developing and implementing access management projects
  • Facilitate and maintain public access to the areas we work in
  • Advance the education of the public in the natural heritage of the areas we work in
  • Promote outdoor access to the public by advocating the individual health benefits and the enjoyment of the outdoors.

Training location

The training programme runs for six months in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, and operates out of Balloch training centre, West Dunbartonshire. The main training work sites will be on paths of Ben A’an, Ben Lomond and Craigmore. The Trainees will report to their training centre daily where transport will be provided to take them to relevant training work sites.

Training programme outline

The work based skills training programme is designed to give the trainees a practical grounding across the spectrum of uplandpath construction and maintenance skills, including lowland paths that can be repaired with upland path techniques. The Trainees are also given the opportunity to learn practical path surveying, habitat management skills, including wildlife and habitat surveying, working with volunteers and planning and leading volunteering activities, allrequired to work in practical roles within the outdoor access and environmental conservation industry’s. Whilst training is practical in nature, time will be given to explaining the underpinning theories behind different aspects of the work that will be undertaken, so that the Trainees will have a clear understanding of why they are doing the work and what is expected of them when working in a team, outdoors in fragile environments, and, where the public will be using the outdoor sites for recreational activities. The training is outdoors site based and consolidated with two weeks of work experience placements with upland path contractors and environmental conservation organisations, such as National Trust for Scotland. At the early stages of the training during the induction weeks, the Trainees will receive training in environmental good practice, health and safety, first aid, manual handling and mountain safety awareness, including safe use of hand tools and work equipment.


The work based skills training programme is accredited with the Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) Level 2 Group Award in Environmental Conservation.

Training allowance

Whilst the Trainees are completing their training programme a training allowance will be paid monthly, with rates set at current national minimum wage. Some parts of the training will require Trainees to stay away overnight, during which accommodation and subsistence will be provided.

All Trainees will normally work 36.25 hours per week between8 am to 5 pm or 9am to 5pm on Mondays to Thursdays and 8 am to 11 am or 9 am to 12 noon on Fridays. On some occasions, especially when on work placements with contractors, Trainees will be required to work longer hours with time given off in lieu. Holidays are at fixed periods for all Trainees, to ensure everyone gets full benefit from the training programme.

Training content

Upland path work

Construction of stone pitched and aggregate path surfaces, stone built drainage features, lateral drainage and site landscaping restoration techniques to encourage natural vegetation regeneration. Theory will include principles of upland path work, siteassessment and path surveys, maintenance, environmental good practice, hand tool and work equipment good practice, site safety, health and welfare good practice, and climate change.

Environmental good practice

Habitat management is a key component of upland species conservation. Leading conservation bodies fully understand that the loss of upland habitat is the biggest single reason for depletion in biodiversity. The Trainees will be given the opportunity to learn the practical skills of site landscaping restoration, soil erosion control and natural flood management techniques on training work sites.


Path surveys are carried out at 2 different levels, one to prioritise and evaluate networks and the other to commission upland path contract work. All Trainees will learn the theory and practical skills of surveying paths on the ground, to assess their condition and the path works needed.

Health and safety

Health and Safety is fundamental to all practical upland path construction and maintenance work. Training leading to qualifications will be given in first aid, mountain awareness, risk assessment, site health and safety awareness and health and safety legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work, Manual Handling,Work Equipment, Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences (RIDDOR), Control of Substances Hazardous to Health(COSHH) and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM).

Further Information

To find out more about life as a trainee check out our training film at or have a read of this blog written by one of our 2016 trainees and Lantra learner of the year finalist Gill Walker: