Trainee Blog 3 – Deer Fencing at Balmoral Estate
As part of COAT’s training programme the 8 trainees on the course have the chance to learn other skills alongside footpath work. After a welcome two week break we were all ready to check in at a lovely hostel in Ballater and spend the next two weeks learning how to construct deer fencing on Balmoral Estate. The bumpy track to the work site ran alongside the Eastern shore of Loch Muick (a beautiful 2 mile freshwater loch) and was a scenic route where we were able to spot wildlife along the way. Plenty of Red Deer was to be spotted as well as Buzzards, Kittiwakes and our Training Officer, Gordon, even spotted an Adder sunning itself on the track.
We were lucky to get (mostly) good weather and an excellent contractor who spent the two weeks showing us how to construct deer fencing to the same standard as a fencing company would. The particular section which we had been given was pretty tough ground with plenty of rocks to manoeuvre around and even more ditches to fall in. Many of us had never constructed deer fencing before so the first day was a steep learning curve, the first lesson being how to use double shovels to make a hole for the strainer posts to sit in. After we had got the hang of the method we managed to get a few strainer posts in and then learned the important knot needed to tie the high tensile wire onto the strainers. This took us all a little while to get right as it quickly turned out that it is not as easy as it looks!
Once all the basics were learnt we were soon getting stuck in and the 2 weeks seemed to fly by. It was nice to have the whole group together for the two weeks, we managed to have a bit of fun in the evenings, going out for a walk or two, having a splash about in the River Dee (which runs through Ballater) and having a few merry pints at the pub. We all came away from the two weeks with a lot more knowledge on deer fencing and a few more bruises, an outstanding two weeks – Thank You COAT!