Forvie National Nature Reserve made safer by students from North East Scotland College


We recently had the privilege of travelling up to Aberdeenshire and running a Path Skillz training course to 7 enthusiastic students from North East College. The aim of the project was to make the path safer for members of the community and the work involved filling in a large section of a path and creating some drainage in the beautiful Forvie Nature Reserve. Over one week, the student’s battled rain and the North Sea wind to try and get as much of the work done as possible.

The students split into two teams, NESCOL group and the Three Stooges and each team wrote a blog about their Path Skillz experience which you can read below:



“Today we have been at a Path Skillz course. Our team is called the Nescol group and consists of Aiden, the team leader Daryl and George.

We did interesting activities and worked on some presentations.

We learned the names of all the tools we will be using when making a path. We got to know each other and Richard and Roxanne were friendly and good to work with. Tomorrow we are doing a community survey.”


“Today we did a few games and enjoyed the activities. We were challenged by using the survey tools. We learned about different types of paths and we learned how to use the specialist tools. Tomorrow and for the rest of the week, we are going to be asking questions, a bit of measuring and later we will repair and maintain the paths.”

Three stooges (Robbie, Toby and Declan)



“This morning we learned about the structures of the path using lego. We practiced using the equipment as well as taking a public survey. We decided to go out and about and ask people questions (about the Path). We are looking forward to going out and about tomorrow.”


“We went out and measured the paths and also asked the public about the path using the questions we had written. We got a good response from the public and good answers. Then we planned out the tools we were going to take. In the afternoon we also discussed equipment.”

Three stooges

Practical days


“Me and George created drainage by taking turf out of the ground. We pushed through and it was a great achievement. On Friday we filled the path with stones and the rock. I worked on the drainage as well as taping off the work area.”

Aiden- NESCOL group

“Working with tools and surveying was good. We learned about health and safety on the use of tools. It was wet and windy but we worked through and we enjoyed laying path using quarry crushed rock. Filling in potholes to level out the path was a new experience. I worked on the drainage ditch and taped off the working area as it was a hazard.”

Three stooges

Path work

The students made a huge difference to the path which has been captured in the images below:

Before the work started
Stage 1: Digging out a tray
Stage 2: Levelling out the tray
path 1
Stage 3: Filling the tray with rocks from the local quarry
The finished work


The students also received lots of great feedback from the SNH staff who maintain the reserve:

“The enthusiasm of the students was obvious, and they certainly got stuck into the task of shifting a large amount of stone. Although their week at Forvie was a battle against time and inclement weather, we’re very grateful to have had their help in levelling a problem bit of path. Our visitors approve as well – we had favourable comments on social media immediately after the job was completed.”

Daryl Short – Nature Reserve Officer

“I was very keen to work with Path Skillz students from North East Scotland College at Forvie NNR, building on previous involvement with that module where students visited the reserve to learn about nature conservation. The group were a pleasure to work with; all the students were interested and enthusiastic and worked well to tackle an eroded section of one of the main waymarked routes. The sandy path had been scoured deeply, which was affecting access by walkers and also was damaging the protected habitat. This has now been filled, leading to positive comments about the work from reserve visitors.
I look forward to working with more Path Skillz groups in future!”

Annabel Drysdale – Reserve Manager

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