Young Londoners visit the Loire Valley

August 2022

“Our original application was for a cycle trip to the southwest of France cycling towards the Spanish border. However, we had to change this at the last minute as the whole area was sealed off due to large forest fires which meant that the original route had been closed and many campsites along it. Climate Change in action and this theme continued throughout our trip and feed into our John Muir Award Project.

We followed part of the EuroVelo 6 route, the section we chose to cycle started at Tours and finished in Nantes, it was a cycle ride of approximate 337km over 7 days, averaging 48km per day.  It was indeed a challenge for all, we carried our own panniers with equipment, clothes, and food with the aim of being as self-sufficient as we could be. The route followed most of the time the river Loire and along designated cycle paths for around 70% of the journey.”

Apart from the challenges of being away from home, working together as a group, and the cycling and camping experiences, these youngsters from inner London were able to experience, for the first time, the people, food, entertainment and culture of France. The impact is summed up by one of the parents “She seems different, more buoyant, more confident, more resilient, more positive, less anxious, and much much happier. She seems to have settled more into herself and for the first time actually likes herself. School is presently ok; this has never happened before!!!!  I wish all young people who struggle could have the same opportunity. Experiences like this can raise people up and out of their darkness and give them the confidence and resilience to make positive life choices leading into young adults”.

For the full report visit:


Congratulations to Duncan Grant who completed the Tough Mudder Challenge and raised an amazing £1,955 for the Trust in September.  It is not too late to help push this over the £2000.

A big thank you to Duncan and all our supporters. 

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and you won’t even notice that you are helping! Search for The Neil Mackenzie Trust and soon we will be benefitting when you buy online.

Forththcoming events with Donations to The Neil Mackenzie Trust:

Talk by  Anna Taylor, cyclist, solo climber and adventurer – at UHI, Fort William.  Thursday 24th November. 6pm. 

Autumn Talks: Glenmore Lodge. Wednesdays in November:

9th   Heather Morning – Rivers of the Yukon

16th George Fell – The Red Scare book, Sea Kayak – Faroe Islands

23rd Nathan White – Mt. Kenya

30th  Giles Trussell – Solo sea kayak to St Kilda

South Africa part 2: The camp and the team

“Having grown up with a strong love for animals and conservation, I always dreamt about disappearing into the bush and getting to actually experience living there rather than be a tourist. I knew I wanted the most authentic experience. Somewhere that I could actually make a positive difference, contribute to research and live out my childhood fantasies of walking among wild animals.” 

While researching, Kerri identified the Indlovu Camp, run by Craig Spencer, head warden of Olifants West Game Reserve, founder of The Black Mambas the first all female anti-poaching team. The camp was used as a base for his team, researchers and volunteers.

“No matter how many times I’d stalk the information online and find any photos or videos I could, it still can’t truly prepare you.

Arriving in camp there are 7 brick built chalets with thatched roofs.

The chalets are arranged in a semi-circular formation around the lapa/campfire area and are close together for safety purposes as there are no fences around, meaning you’re entirely open to the wildlife to just walk up. The kitchen was….…open plan, shall we say. It was also to be used as an area to hide in were anything to come into camp that required such a response. If we didn’t have time to get to our rooms we were to unhook and pull down the wooden shutter, close the door and stay inside. Then we had an open-air bathroom about 20 metres from the rest of the camp, surrounded by a bamboo modesty screen.

Our team consisted mainly of two, twenty-something year old land rovers and a young team of five humans, in their twenties – the hardest working people I’ve ever met. Life in

the bush is not easy. 5:30am wake up, 7am starts followed by 9hr days in the field in temperatures up to 40+ degrees, then coming home to cook on the campfire could be very exhausting. Technically we had Sundays off but even then we were on call and it only took a few extra human visitors in camp for our food supplies to greatly dwindle before we got to the shops the following week.”     KERRI MCGRATH

Look out for the next instalment – Kerri’s research and adventures with The Black Mambas


Greenland 2022

Three students from St. Andrew’s University Mountaineering Club joined the Scottish Arctic Club on a research trip to Greenland in July. 

Tom, Bethany and Hannah spent most of the two weeks on a granite cirque above the Ikerasagssuaq fjord.

For their report see:

We are really looking forward to hearing all about this year’s VOC trips to Namibia and Iceland, and to Callum Johnson’s venture to the Indian Himalayas.                                                      


Applications: If you are over 14, applications can be made at any time for Expedition Grants or Skills Training – contact us through the website, let us know your plans and we will send you an application form.

The Neil Mackenzie Trust (Charity No. SC046080)                                                   Web: