Lochaber’s young lockdown poets turn to nature for competition inspiration

P1-P3 certificate receivers from Lundavra Primary in Fort William. NO F10 Lundavra category P1-3 Poetry certificate receivers
P1-P3 certificate receivers from Lundavra Primary in Fort William. NO F10 Lundavra category P1-3 Poetry certificate receivers

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Lochaber school pupils have been getting creative to take part in the John Muir Trust’s Wild Poetry Competition organised as part of the 2021 Fort William Mountain Festival.

Despite the challenges created by home schooling, there was a flood of entries from Lochaber pupils with around 200 English and Gaelic poems from 11
primary schools submitted.

Poems are normally displayed in festival exhibition space but unfortunately, as a result of coronavirus restrictions, this wasn’t an option this year.

The plan is to display the poems online instead and at Fort William’s Highland Bookshop when it reopens.

NO F10 Highland bookshop poetry display
NO F10 Highland bookshop poetry display

The annual poetry competition is open to all primary school pupils in Lochaber who put pen to paper to say through poetry what makes the wild world so wonderful.

Current lockdown restrictions have given everyone a new appreciation of nature and how it helps physically and mentally and the poems submitted by the youngsters reflected this.

The winners were: English P1-3: 1 Cooper Spence, Inverlochy primary; 2 Gracie Stafford, Kilchoan primary; 3 Eilidh Ross, Lundavra primary.

English P4-7: 1 Edie Crosbie, Kilchoan primary; 2 Sine Grant, Invergarry primary; 3 Lola Foster, Arisaig primary.

Gaelic P1-4: 1 Anna Fothergill, Bunsgoil Mhalaig; 2 Aiden Mclean, Bunsgoil Mhalaig; 3 Muireann Beck, Bunsgoil Mhalaig.

Gaelic P5-7: 1 Lucia Young, Bunsgoil Mhalaig; 2 Ella Summers, Bunsgoil Mhalaig; 3 Emma Macleod, Bunsgoil Mhalaig.

Nathan Berrie, the John Muir Trust’s Nevis Conservation Officer, said it had been a privilege to read about how pupils in Lochaber interact with wild places.

‘Whether it was spending time on their bikes in nature or just a walk in their local woodland, each poem offered a special insight into why nature is so important to us all,’ Mr Berrie told the Lochaber Times.

‘It was a difficult task to decide the winners. Some stood out because of their captivating subjects. Others attracted us with their descriptive words, flow and rhythm, conjuring up that special quality of an animal, or a place, or the feel of taking part in something outdoors in our wonderful wild weather. Well done to everyone who took part.’

The competition is held in honour of Scots-born conservationist John Muir (1838-1914), who emigrated to the United States at the age of 10 and became a world-renowned explorer, mountaineer, conservationist and campaigner.

Muir was also an eloquent writer whose works inspired many people down through the generations to explore and protect wild places and all that is wild.

The trust thanks everyone who took part including pupils, schools and teachers.

‘We would also like to thank The Highland Book shop for its kind donation of book tokens as a prize and to the High Life Highland rangers who helped judge the poems,’ added Mr Berrie.


P1-P3 certificate winners from Lundavra Primary School in Fort William. NO F10 Lundavra category P1-3 Poetry certificate receivers.


EXTRA pic: NO F10 Highland bookshop poetry display