Two weeks ago I attended my Hill and Moorland Leader Training in the Lake District. I had a brilliant time and can’t wait to get stuck into my consolidation walks to build on the skills taught at the training.
The Hill and Moorland Leader qualification is a nationally accredited scheme developed and administered by the five national Mountain Training organisations across Ireland and the UK. The qualification is designed to train and assess those who wish to lead hill walking groups on day walks in defined terrain in summer conditions.
The Hill and Moorland Leader qualification offers the opportunity to gain experience and demonstrate technical competence in leading groups on hill walks in areas of the UK and Ireland. It is the combination of technical competence and leadership skills supported by a wide range of experience that forms the basis for effective group management.
I’m training to become a Hill and Moorland Leader to enable me to take groups out in Suffolk with The Outdoorsy Type and to run weekends away in the Lakes, Peak District and Scotland. I completed my training with Graham Uney Mountaineering and would highly recommend them for anyone else wanting to get involved with the Mountain Training qualifications.
The syllabus of the course is split into 9 sections:
1 Walking and Route Finding
3 Hazards and Emergency Procedures
5 Responsibilities of the Leader
6 Group Management
7 Access, Conservation and Environmental Knowledge
9 Background Knowledge
Day 1 of training
On the first day of training we met the other group members and started the day with a bit of admin and a sit down chat about the syllabus and what to expect from the weekend and some classroom based topics such as how to read synoptic charts and predicting the weather. We then set off for the first 2 hills, discussing the remit of the qualification along the way. We summited Lord’s Seat and Barf practicing some basic map skills and taking half bearings. It was great to get to know the group, all from different walks of life from a mathematics teacher who ran their school’s outdoor education department to a retired sailor.
Day 2 of training
On day 2 we set off in the glorious sunshine up Sale Fell. Here we went over taking bearings and how to teach navigation to groups. We also learnt to pace and time distances, learning by doing we practiced the skills on our own and as a group until we had all got to grips with it. We also covered aspects such as access legislation and conservation matters, learning more about the flora and fauna in the moorland regions.
That evening we set out at sunset to test out night navigation skills. Heading out onto the hill side of High Rigg, we were treated to a spectacular sunset over Bassenthwaite and Skiddaw and we soon found ourselves in complete darkness. This simulated limited visibility and proved much harder to navigate along bearings, teaching us to break things down into small sections and by the end of the night we were successfully finding points along our bearings in the pitch black.
Day 3 of training
On the final day of training we set off up Gowbarrow Fell for our 5th Wainwright of the weekend. Here we practiced our leadership skills at the same time as navigating to unknown spots off the beaten track using our recently learnt navigation skills. We discussed the format of the final assessment and what to expect and had an individual debrief each with the instructors.
After completing my training I am now into my consolidation stage. This means practicing all the skills from the training and getting out onto the hills. Before being able to book my assessment I must now complete at least 40 quality hill and moorland days (20 or these have been completed before the training so 20 more to go). I can’t wait to get out with other trainees and meet others working towards the award.