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  • Writer's pictureGavin

Choosing the right walking course...

At first glance there are loads of courses and qualifications to get confused with! So which one is the best one for you? This blog aims to answer that question with a brief lowdown on what our courses do and what level you need to be at to get started.

The first question to ask yourself is what you want from your course? This could be split into a couple of options...

  1. I want to go out with my friends, family or on my own, but would like to improve my skills - in which case consider a Hill / Mountain Skills course or some Navigation Coaching.

  2. I’d like to lead groups either as a volunteer or paid leader. In this case you’ll need to look at leadership awards such as the Lowland Leader or Hill and Moorland Leader.

Personal Skills

These courses are all about developing the skills and competence to get you out on the hills and mountains safely and confidently.

This two day course is aimed at people with limited or no experience of hill walking. covering a range of knowledge and skills, you will get to grips with the basics of planning and executing your own hillwalk as well as avoiding and dealing with emergencies. You will leave with a certificate of completion and the confidence to head out into the hills independently with a sound set of basic skills.

Navigation Coaching Tailored to your individual or group needs this offers the ideal solution if you have specific goals or needs. More experienced walkers or beginners looking for rapid progression with gain from the individualised approach which will match your skills development. Each task will be designed to provide timely practice and learning, allowing you to achieve your goals in as short a time as possible.

Leadership Awards

Leading others in the hills is hugely rewarding. It also comes with a significant degree of responsibility, as such undertaking a leadership qualification is as much a process as a result. The awards that we deliver for Mountain Training offer a robust pathway that delivers capable, confident and knowledgeable leaders.

Representing the first rung on the walking leadership ladder, the Lowland Leader is qualified to lead on paths and tracks in countryside such as woodland, heathland and coastal paths.

Experience requirements are a minimum of 10 Quality Lowland Days (see below) or completion of a Hill Skills course, after which you can attend a 2 day training course covering personal and leadership skills. You will then undertake a consolidation period (amassing an absolute minimum of 20 Quality Lowland Days) to practice and refine your skills before attending the two day assessment. For most candidates, from attending training to completion takes about 3-12 months depending on previous experience and personal circumstances.

Our candidates have gone on to use the Award to lead Duke if Edinburgh Award And cadet groups, field studies trips, nature and wellbeing walks and for some has provided a confidence building stepping stone to the Hill and Moorland Leader.

Extensive experience and a broad skillset are a feature of this award. The Hill and Moorland Leader does exactly what it say on the tin - qualifying you to lead in expansive upland areas such as Dartmoor, The Peak District, North York Moors.

Experience requirements include a minimum of 20 Quality Hill Days (see below) prior to attending Training, 3 fun and intense days covering all aspects of the syllabus including leadership in various terrains, knowledge of the natural environment and night navigation. Leaving your training course with a clear action plan will allow you to consolidate your skills and knowledge to attend an assessment confident and well prepared.

The 3 day assessment covers all aspects of the syllabus and while largely practical in nature will include a home paper, delivering a hill-talk / activity and may include planning exercises and practical scenarios. For most candidates the journey from Training to qualifying usually take 6-18 months.

Our Hill and Moorland Leader candidates have included Teachers, youth leaders and outdoor professionals.

Quality Hill / Lowland Days

We regularly get asked about what these terms actually mean. Effective leadership in a challenging environment is built on a foundation of sound and appropriate experience. As such the terms above are used to describe and define the type of experience that will likely contribute to your competence and confidence as a leader.

So direct from Mountain Training...

Definition of Quality Day

Experience gained in areas other than the UK and Ireland can be recorded if in similar conditions to those found in the UK were encountered.

The majority of your experience however, at least 50% of the days recorded, should be in the UK.

A Quality Day will involve most, if not all, of the factors below:

• The individual takes part in the planning and leadership.

• Navigation skills are required.

• Knowledge is increased and skills practised.

• Attention is paid to safety.

• Adverse weather and poor underfoot conditions may be encountered.

• Four hours or more journey time.

These criteria mean that days as a course member under instruction, a member of a group practising skills, or days spent repeating familiar routes are very unlikely to meet the requirements of a Quality Day. However these can be recorded in the appropriate place in your logbook even though they are not suitable for use in meeting the minimum requirements for attending assessment.

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