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Qualifying as a Lowland Leader

Mountain Training award has made me a better leader

Mountain Training’s Lowland Leader award is not to be sniffed at just because it’s aimed at walk leaders operating outside of hilly and mountainous terrain.

Many qualified Lowland Leaders, myself included, still aspire to take on and pass the Hill & Moorland Leader and Mountain Leader awards; maybe for personal pride, or eventually to use them to work outside of the largely non-hilly areas we live in.

But based in Essex, the Lowland Leader award is perfect for what I wanted to do when I first came up with the concept of Goode Walks, while in Barts Hospital undergoing treatment for Leukaemia in 2019. Having passed, I now come fully equipped with the skills to take out walking groups on day walks in lowland countryside (that’s Essex, East Anglia, the South East of England and plenty further beyond covered) and woodland in summer conditions.

Taking on my Lowland Leader training and assessment in summer 2021 was not a straightforward thing. Having been largely confined to home in 2020, shielding as clinically vulnerable during the first phase of the Covid pandemic, the first six or seven months of the following year had been, if anything, even harder. So having decided I needed to finally get out there and take back control of the plans that had been put on hold for 18 months, I needed to find the right course provider.

I struck lucky. Using the Mountain Training website I was able to search for courses in the south of England in the right time period, and then reach out to a potential provider. That turned out the be Heather Mitchell, Wild Heather, who simply couldn’t have been more helpful or accommodating when I explained my situation.

The two-day training course in the Marlow area covered all the elements of the Lowland Leader syllabus clearly but enjoyably, thanks to the make-up of an excellent training group, and Heather’s leadership – itself an invaluable lesson in leadership.

Having enough Quality Lowland Days recorded on my Mountain Training ‘DLOG’ – effectively your historical walking record – I was able to progress to a two-day assessment course a few weeks later in September. I’ll be honest, this was far harder work; not least because, being based around the Chilterns on day two, it was a physical challenge for someone who hadn’t walked up much of a hill in several years.

But I did it. My fellow course assessees were excellent company, and we all helped each other across the two days under Heather’s watch. And I am now a Lowland Leader.

I know what my strengths and weaknesses are far better as a result of those four days, and all the preparation and practice involved. And I’m sure that those I take out walking over the coming months and years will benefit as a result.

Next up, a Hill & Moorland Leader training course in the summer hopefully; and a Camping Leader course this year too. You can never stop learning, and I certainly don’t intend to!

...the Lowland Leader award is perfect for what I wanted to do when I first came up with the concept of Goode Walks


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