Summer Newsletter

Intoducing our new newsletter available here, online and as a paper copy.


Get Outdoors Day, Coming out of Covid, hopefully!

On 22nd May we launched our new Health and Wellbeing Grant with a family, covid compliant walk in our local woods at Daviot, near Inverness. Designed to help ease people out of lockdown and to enhance their wellbeing, the new grant offers a sum of up to £100 to anyone able to indicate a mental or physical need, to join a local exercise group, for example walking, cycling or even team sport.

The walk was attended by individuals, couples and families.  Following some warm up exercises from our leader, Val Rose, of Val Rose Health and Fitness, we set off on a 5k walk.  The children were well entertained with a scavenger hunt, while the adults gradually formed small groups and engaged in relaxed conversations.

It was a chance to meet friends, old and new, and take some gentle exercise, concluding with a drink and home-made cake. It was also possible, then, to learn more about all the grants the Trust offers, and, of course to make donations to the Trust and buy some of their merchandise.  From this, and another “wellbeing” event the Trust raised £500 in May. (See June blog

After the event Carol, who attended, said “This was a great afternoon … I think I speak for several people who attended – we would love another one!”

I am sure this can be arranged, Carol! Indeed we have pencilled in November 13th as a possible date.

Partnership with Glenmore Lodge

In 2019, shortly before Covid hit, we struck up a partnership with Glenmore Lodge, Scotland’s Outdoor Training Centre, where we are able to offer enhanced grants for outdoor skills training of up to £400 to anyone over the age of 14 who could demonstrate a need by being disadvantaged, mentally, physically, or financially.  

Cornelia Frederiksen, the first to  receive this grant in February 2020, said afterwards “It has been a fantastic experience and a personal achievement.”


Cards and tea towels for sale from the website:

A big thank you to all our supporters.  Please keep in touch and let us know your fundraising ideas!

We are extremely grateful to everyone who has helped us raise funds and particularly Fiona Elder and Kate Downes who cycled the length of Vancouver Island (500km), in September 2020, and raised a magnificent £1,265 for us.

You can help us

Do you buy anything from Amazon?  If you do, log on to Amazon Smile and select to support The Neil Mackenzie Trust. We will receive a donation each time you make a purchase.  Since we started getting donations through Amazon we have received over £125.

We have a voucher for canoe or kayak hire for 2 for a weekend, from Tiso, Inverness.  Place your bid by email to (anything over £20) and the highest bidder will be announced on 24th July. 

Donate via donate on any page on the website

Donate via

Who we have helped …………………

Recent (since May 2021) skills training grants that have been awarded:

Ian McDougall

Ailsa Lopez

Angus Hulbert

Expedition grants have been awarded to destinations including Iceland, Alaska, Namibia, Madagascar,

……………. and what they have said.

“Massive thanks to the wonderful Neil Mackenzie Trust ……… You absolute legends!”

“Having the support of the Neil Mackenzie Trust has been fantastic, as it’s often hard to find the funds required to participate in training and assessments.”

 “Thank you so much for your support and for believing in me.”

The Canadian connection

Neil was an active member of the Outdoor Club at the University of British Columbia, and since his death the Trust has contributed to grants that have been awarded to members to embark on adventures they would not otherwise have been able to do, including some to Scotland.

Carly & Kelsey came to Scotland in 2017`

Can we help you or someone you know?

Get in touch, let us know your plans and we will help if we can!

We have paid out 37 grants (since 2016) totalling over £10,000 – over half on outdoor skills training grants.

The Neil Mackenzie Trust (SC046080)

Celebrating Health and Wellbeing!

May has been a busy month for us, and we, like everyone else, have been learning to adapt to a very different way of life!  Of course for many of us, Covid and lockdown have been dominating factors in what we do and how we do it for what seems like a very long time, so the first signs of change at the end of April, allowing us to socialise again, and even begin to travel, were very welcome.   After all this time not being able to visit our friends and families, there was a sense of uncertainty in this new-found freedom and naturally an element of anxiety.  Lockdowns and restrictions are not really very good for our health!

Behind the scenes, the Trustees at The Neil Mackenzie Trust have been busy.  As we have not had many applications to consider, we turned our attention to thinking of ways we can help other categories of people, who are perhaps not quite so adventurous as those we normally assist.  Of course, we too have been stuck inside and as outdoorsy people ourselves we understand the frustrations, so how about a ‘Health and Wellbeing Grant’ to help those that struggled mentally and physically with lockdown?

So the Health and Wellbeing Grant was born.  How would it work?  Well, when I look out of my office window I see hills, and at the moment there are also lambs in the fields.  Whatever the weather this view makes me smile and appreciate the area in which I am lucky to live.  The Trust is all about encouraging people to push their boundaries and learn new skills in an outdoor environment, so how about we combine the two?  Just being outside is enough to make people feel better, so if we could offer a little financial incentive to help those who are finding it difficult to get active again, it benefits us all.    If you have experienced health problems during the pandemic and would like some financial assistance to join an outdoor group or start a new outdoor activity, then please do have a look at our new Grant! Health and Wellbeing award – The Neil Mackenzie Trust

Of course, our new Grant needed promoting, and what better way to do this than to organise an outdoor event, with the aim of encouraging folk outside to enjoy their surroundings, meet new people and where possible, be active. 

So, on Saturday 22nd May, we hosted a Get Outdoors Day in Daviot Woods and welcomed a very mixed group of individuals from all ages and abilities for a walk, scavenger hunt and refreshments.  The feedback was very positive, and everyone who came did so for different reasons, but I hope you would agree that our aims were met: 

‘Thank you so much for a fab afternoon – we all loved it and I’m so glad the weather showed up for it. Great idea and fab mix of folk, good to have a blether with lots of different people on the way round.  I meant to take more [photos] but was enjoying just walking along phone free!’

‘Yesterday was great! I look forward to the next one.  I’m also pleased to say that I recorded over 10,000 steps for the first time in a very long time!’

‘We had a lovely time on Saturday, met lots of lovely people and found a new wood to stomp around.’

More photos of the day can be found in our Photo Gallery.

We were also very pleased that our friends at the School of Adventure Studies at West Highland College UHI in Fort William were able to organise a Taster Coasteering session as part of our Get Outdoors Day event too – definitely for the more adventurous, but thoroughly enjoyed by all!  Thank you again to Andy and Zeemon at Coasteering.Fun for hosting the event for us!  Click here to see a short video, put together by Jose from the School of Adventure Studies, of their exploits.

As well as being active and outdoors, self-care is also an important part of health and wellbeing, whether it is establishing a good sleep pattern, practising mindfulness, taking up Yoga, or even just making time for a relaxing bath – these all help us feel better.  It is also something that is very often neglected, and can lead to mental health issues.  As an outdoorsy, working Mother, I have to admit that self-care (particularly in the form of skincare routines, facials and spa products) is not very high up on my agenda, so when I was invited to join a Body Shop at Home group on social media I really wasn’t sure whether it was for me.  Siobhan, who runs the group, which revolves around the promotion and selling of Body Shop products, is also an advocate of positive health and wellbeing, tying in with the Trust’s ethos, so I thought I would give it a go.  She also raises money for a nominated monthly charity, and was happy to help the Trust in our fundraising and promotion efforts throughout May – a win win situation you could say!  Thank you Siobhan and Lisa for all of your hard work and support this month, and yes, I do I love all my new goodies!

As well as raising awareness of the new Grant, there has been an element of fundraising to all of our activities this month, and we are very pleased to announce that we have raised a grand total of £500, which will all go towards future grant awards.  Thank you to every single person who took part in one of our activities, or gave a donation towards this fantastic total.

So looking after your Health and wellbeing can come in many forms, and throughout the month of May we at the Trust have embraced many of them – we hope this will inspire you to do the same!

Matthew Blevins

Last September I took the opportunity to participate in a British Cycling Level 2 Mountain Bike Leadership Training course at Glenmore Lodge Outdoor Training Centre. This course allowed me to further develop my skills and understanding of group management and route planning when out riding on trails. I am currently a Dundee University student riding with the Mountain Bike club – with the skills and abilities gained from completing this course I intend to assist in the planning and delivery of future group rides in my final years.

Upon signing up to the course I was required to register with British Cycling, which supplied me with lots of valuable training materials including a sizeable instructional book and handout resources all specific to the level 2 course.

I travelled to Glenmore lodge on the 25th September 2020, to prepare for the course to commence early the next morning. Fortunately, I had booked the course at a time when Coronavirus restrictions allowed me to participate in the course. I spent my first evening in the upper social space, the Lochain Bar, where I was warmly welcomed by another course participant along with a handful of very friendly Lodge trainees working to support courses at the lodge.

The first day was well-balanced. It began in the workshops, with an overview of the course whilst getting to know everyone. We had four people on our course, half the standard amount due to COVID, and were instructed by Emma Holgate. We moved onto basic bike maintenance and trailside repairs, which I really enjoyed as I love getting hands on with bikes. Their workshop is well organized and fully equipped with professional tool benches and bike stands which helped us practice our skills. We then evaluated the contents of our bikepacks and discussed what personal gear would be worth carrying when mountain biking and what would be necessary for a leader to carry when out riding with others. We studied our own bikes afterwards, learning how to make checks to ensure they were up to par for trail riding.

After our workshop morning, we moved onto skills development. We took our bikes around the Lodge on some purpose-built circuits and trails to perfect our riding techniques and to understand how we can use practices as a group leader to evaluate another rider’s capabilities. We then made our way out of the Lodge onto some trails to enjoy some riding while practicing what we had learnt, along with other group management techniques. We spent the last part of the day back in the workshop prepping for the second day. Provided with maps, we were presented with a 30km route through and around the Inshriach Forest from which we were each given a segment to practice leading using the skills we had learned. We used mapwork skills to calculate and evaluate various factors of the journey including time, distance, ascent and descent, and spent the night memorizing our allocated segment.

The second day began with a short drive to the start of the loop at Feshiebridge. Because we had studied the route the night before, the loop was fairly straight forward to find and follow, and provided good practice for the use of cycle computers – an essential tool for efficient route management when leading. Unfortunately, one of our group members was unable to complete the last segment of the loop due to a pre-existing injury. This meant we had to adapt our route. This was good practice as things don’t always go to plan when leading groups. Once we finished the ride and returned to the Lodge, we completed a final review of the course and received our individual feedback from Emma.

The experience provided by the Lodge was excellent. Because of Covid restrictions, we were each allocated a twin room each. Food was brilliant, with a good choice for breakfast and dinner along with a variety goodies for lunch. Hot drinks were also complimentary at all times when on site. Needless to say, the hot chocolate machine took a big hit!

Even though I have been riding mountain bikes for years and have experience with mountaineering, I have learned more essential skills in the areas of bike maintenance and group management that will be put to good use. I would really like to thank the Neil Mackenzie Trust for helping me fund my course with their grant scheme and providing me with the opportunity to participate in this course – I really look forward to applying my new knowledge and putting these skills into practice. Once I’ve gained enough experience and completed the required hours for my log book, I intend to complete my Level 2 assessment, which the Trust has kindly offered to contribute towards.

Anna Cornelia Frederiksen

Thanks to The Neil Mackenzie Trust, In February 2020,I had the opportunity to attend a winter skills course. The five-day course was organised by Glenmore Lodge and focused on improving skills in winter navigation and route planning in the Scottish mountains. As a confident walker with extensive experience hiking abroad, I had a foundational understanding of navigation and leadership skills. However, I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to further develop my skills. There is always more to learn to improve your own, and others safety. On the first day of the course, I met the other participants and we were introduced to our instructor with whom we discussed our aspirations and ambitions. After going through the equipment and route for the day we set off. Walking into the mountains this first day, as the snow-coated landscape stretched out before us, I was reminded of true wilderness. Over the course of the week, numerous aspects of winter hill walking were covered, such as preparation, planning, navigation and emergency procedures. The dynamic environment, and the volatile weather conditions, meant we were able toput our knowledge and newly-learned techniques into practice. I was particularly impressed by how my instructor navigated the various elements of planning, showing an excellent example of how to tackle adverse situations whilst maintaining calm and rational thinking. A pertinent example of her successful leadership skills was when we encountered issues as one of the group members expressed difficulties with ascending. Consequently, as a group, we made a sensible decision to select a different route that was better suited for the overall competence-level of the group, as opposed to the route we initially intended to take. Adapting my approach as conditions change and unanticipated situations arise, is an important lesson I will take forward. As part of the course, Glenmore Lodge provided evening lectures which were thoroughly tailored for outdoor enthusiasts. The lectures included route planning with limited visibility, avalanche awareness and gave an insight into how other guides would solve situations presented to them in the mountains without sacrificing safety. Aside from providing critical information and encouraging us to develop our knowledge of the outdoors, these evening sessions were a wonderful opportunity to meet like-minded people and walking away with new contacts and friends was certainly an added bonus of the course!

Taking part in this winter skills course was a very formative experience for me. Throughout the course, I felt that I was both doing and developing my passion; spending time outdoors in the mountains and challenging myself both mentally and physically. This course allowed me to develop the in-depth and holistic understanding required to confidently navigate Scottish mountains during the winter. The emphasis put on avalanche risk and how to mitigate potential risks was a part of the course that I found particularly interesting as these skills are transferrable and, I feel, have equipped me to go far beyond the mountains surrounding Glenmore Lodge. I am confident that I will use the knowledge and practical experience I gained from this training course trekking in the UK and in other regions with similar landscapes. With the support of The Neil Mackenzie Trust,I have improved my planning skills and feel much more confident in my decision making. I am now eager to explore the country’s unique landscape by myself while applying the essential skills I have learnt! I also look forward to applying these skills further afield and to continuing to develop them in the future through more advanced levels of training.


£20 offered – who’ll give us £50?

“Free” weekend paddle hire for 2 people

Thanks to a generous donation, from a supporter, we are holding an auction in aid of the Trust.

Tiso voucher blank

Place your bid in contact us, on Facebook, #NeilMacTrust on Twitter or to  We will post the latest bids on the website, facebook and Twitter.

Start planning your trip!

Who’s going to start the bidding – maybe £25?

Magalie Castelin

Snow and Ice Climbing – Improvers course

Magalie2Very Scottish protection technique

In March 2019, thanks to The Neil Mackenzie Skills Grant 2018, I attended a 5-day Snow and Ice Climbing Improvers course, organized by Adventure Peaks. The course took place in the Western Highlands in Onich, which is situated midway between Fort William and Glencoe. The course was aimed at improving winter climbing skills in the Scottish landscape which requires specific techniques to protect oneself on unbolted walls.  This winter was very mild with unstable conditions, ice was not well formed and a lot of snow had fallen. This reduced the number of climbable routes and made the accesses challenging.

On the first day, we headed up to the Stob Coire Nan Lochan on Glencoe to climb the Ordinary Route (IV, 4). This was tough, with a 2.5 hours approach under rain and winds, and a 3.5 hours climb in deep powder snow. Arriving on the Summit Buttress at dusk, we needed to leave the summit quickly to descend before dark. In the foggy landscape hidden by deep snow, we then learned how to retreat using only charts, compass and short visibility landscape reading. The guides did an amazing job providing walking techniques and cheering us on.


On the second day, we climbed the South-West Ridge (180 m, IV, 5) of the Douglas Boulder North-West Face on Ben Nevis……………….The third day, we headed to the West Face of Aonach Mor, the UKs eighth highest mountain, and climbed Western Rib (500 m, III+). Despite its proximity to the ski area, the climb offered true wilderness, solitude, and adventurous or spectacular moves, such as walking on very narrow snow shelves and ridges……………………………………..

Magalie3 magalie4 Magalie5

Besides improving climbing skills, I wanted to attend this course, in Scotland, to honor and remember my friendship with Neil. Neil introduced me to Ice Climbing in 2013 in Canada, when nobody would take a complete beginner, female, and with poor English skills, on vertical ice walls. He took me to very challenging routes in British Columbia, near Pemberton and Squamish, on the Boston falls of Vancouver Island, and in Colorado near Snowmass. Neil showed me that, with a good teaching and thorough gear and landscape checking, one can take almost anyone on these amazing ice walls. Since then, I have been practicing every winters and encouraging other climbers. Neil always laughed about “those rubbish ice walls of Scotland, where one have to deal more with mud and rocks than with ice and snow”. I know now what he meant and I am very grateful and proud for having had the opportunity of climbing in the Highlands thanks to The Neil Mackenzie Skills Grant 2018!


For full report: Magalie CASTELIN report-1

Grand Raffle

GRAND RAFFLE in aid of  The Neil Mackenzie Trust (SC046080) to be drawn at the Ceilidh at Glenmore Lodge on 28th September, 2019

Buy your tickets online – NOW!  £1.00 per ticket. £5.00 per book of 5 tickets.

Amazing prizes including:

2 Day Glenmore Lodge Course (your choice), £250 Grant from The Neil Mackenzie Trust, 1:1 Climbing Session with Robbie Phillips, Cuillin Photography with Adrian Trendall, £100 accommodation voucher for the Lake district, meal vouchers, whisky and many more – for full list, and donors see below.

To get your tickets:

  • send your payment to The Neil Mackenzie Trust: Sort Code: 87-39-01. Acc. No: 87597463 with your reference as your name and postcode,
  • and contact us with your name and address, including postcode, and your prize preference: GL course/Activity voucher/other
  • Your payment will be acknowledged by email, and you will be allocated raffle ticket numbers. Winners will be notified, and listed here after the event.
  • If you wish to receive the actual tickets please send a stamped adressed envelope to: The Neil Mackenzie Trust Raffle, The Old School, Flichity, Inverness.  IV2 6XD

Prizes: Donors

Course at Glenmore Lodge (your choice): donated by Glenmore Lodge

Voucher (up to £250) towards The Neil Mackenzie Trust Outdoor Skills training voucher: The Neil Mackenzie Trust

£100 Voucher towards accommodation in the Lake District: Sally’s Cottages

1:1 Performance climbing session with Robbie Phillips: Robbie Phillips

1 day rock, mountain, ice or kayak (river or sea) training with Chris Dickinson: Chris Dickinson

EICA, Ratho, 1 hour climbing taster for 2: Edinburgh Leisure

Lunch for 2 in the Flying Stag, Fife Arms Hotel, Braemar: Fife Arms

£50 voucher towards dinner for 2 at Jury’s Inn, Inverness: Jury’s Inn

£20 voucher towards food or accommodation at Cairngorm Hotel, Aviemore: Cairngorm Hotel

SMC climbers guide – Highland Outcrops South: Rob Anderson

Useful accessories, including Goretex water bottle: Ellis Brigham

Whisky: Anonymous




Challenge raises £4,975

IMG_1423There may yet be more reports from 2017 Bell’s Bothy Challenge – I know some are still promised!  The money the challenge has raised is amazing, and I think it is now all collected in.  Including Gift Aid, still to be collected The Trust will have £4,975 to pass on togrant recipients for skills training and expedition grants.  I would like to thank everyone who contributed, but I would especially like to thank my brother, Andrew, for raising 10% of the total by walking 711 miles in the year.  Particularly creditable at 74 with a (two?) new hip(s)!

We have been asked about continuing the Challenge in 2018 – particularly the beach cleaning.  Firstly, we hope as many people as possible will continue to challange themselves in any way they can.  We are contemplating challenging ourselves to cycle over 2,000 miles over the six months between April and September, some of this (maybe about 500 miles) along the Mosel and Rhine when we are in Germany and France in the Spring. Your challenge is up to you – but if you do one please let us know!

Secondly, to beach cleaning …………….. We will not be organising further beach cleans at Camasunary in the foreseeable future  This is unfortunate, but I mentioned the reasons in December.  However, We can all do our bit, and we, ourselves, will be litterpicking on any beach, riverbank, forest, hill or mountain we are on throughout the year.

Finally, remembering Neil, getting together and making new friends will all be in our thoughts in 2018 – and all of us who were at the ceilidh in Edinburgh last weekend have certainly done some of this already!


Ladies Night!

On Friday 10th November, The Neil Mackenzie Trust hosted a Ladies Night as a social event to raise awareness of the Trust, and maybe a few extra pennies at the same time.

We had a great evening – thank you very much to the lovely ladies of Strathnairn (and those that came out from Inverness to join in the fun) who came along, it was a very successful event!

Thanks also to the businesses that supported us, particularly Cheese & Tomatin for providing their delicious pizzas and Mhairi from Scentsy for joining us for the evening.  We were also lucky enough to receive some great raffle prizes from:

Landmark Adventure Park

Jury’s Inn/ Juvenate Leisure Club

Café 1

Inverness Harbour Trust

The Sleeping Beauty Salon at The Palace Hotel

Infinity Trampoline Park

Majestic Wine

Tales of a Feather

We raised just under £500, which we are very pleased with, and this will go towards grants for 2018.  Thanks again to everyone for your support!