As I storm into retirement, I have slightly more spare time on my hands, well, after I’ve finished all the housework and hack away at the never-ending list of jobs given to me by the other half and my mother in law.
I decided to book myself onto a Lowland Leader Course which are conveniently ran by one of my old mates. I had to join the Mountain Training Association first to get on the course and register onto the website and commence a Digital Log Book (DLOG). My mate told me to get a few quality Lowland walks onto the log to put me in good stead for the course. This wasn’t too difficult as I have numerous walks under my belt so it was just a case of filling in all the drop-down boxes on the DLOG and adding a brief description of the walk.
The course, if I’m successful, would allow me to take small groups out in Lowland areas for walks and also allows me to take out bronze award Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) candidates.
I turned up on the first day of the two-day course early Saturday morning at a local (ish) cricket club. The instructor was there to greet me and it was great to catch up with my old friend. There were only 3 (including me) candidates for the course, but this is better for us and it means the instructor can focus more individually.
The first half of the first day was taken up by kit, weather, walking group dynamics and checking the candidate’s navigation knowledge. This is a very full couple of days as you could imagine so bait was eaten at the table to get everything covered, which to be fair is fine by me as I’m not one for standing around gossiping, which I find is the norm in one hour’s meal breaks on these sort of things.
Then it was out into the area with a pretty good route to navigate. The route was broken down into sections which we took turns in leading. We used 1:25 for this section of the course and we had some pretty tricky routes to lead. The afternoon went very quick and we returned back to the base in dusk, mentally knackered. A couple of glasses of wine were needed back at home and an early night.
The next day we met at Hutton Rudby in North Yorkshire for day 2, the weather Gods were our friends today as rain had been forecast but we were met with broken cloud and sun.
Today was a full day of navigation, risk assessing, first aid scenarios, timed pacing and step counting. We were using a 1:50 map for this day and route, I don’t like 1:50’s! The first half of the day was using the ‘5 D’s’. Distance, Direction, Duration, Description and Dangers. The instructor showed us individually the section of the route he wanted us to lead. We then had to study and give a full brief of the 5 D’s we expected to encounter. Stopping mid walk if we wanted to change anything we had predicted. Mentally draining, plus we had to described features, wildlife and any other points of interest as if we were out with a group, to make it more interesting.
The second half was ‘blind leading’. This is where the instructor gives you a section of the walk in private, not telling the others in the group. Making the rest of the candidates navigate (which they should be doing anywhere to be honest) and show the instructor at the end of the section where they believed they were. Throw in first aid scenario’s again, ending the day in dusk and individual briefings in the pub.
A great couple of days with top lads and a good few laughs.
Next, assessment day in April!