I want to be a Mountain Leader

I am asked quite often how to become qualified to take groups out on the hills. Sometimes people just want to confirm a higher level of personal skill.
OK, ML. Actually ML (summer). The main website for Mountain Training is here: http://www.mountain-training.org/walking/skills-and-awards/mountain-leader
In summary, you think about what kind of work you want to do and what qualification is necessary. MLs is widely respected and pretty much covers everything in the hills in GB except rock climbing and winter mountains. Obviously though not canoeing, mountain biking and the like.
You can do other, lesser, hill skills qualifications but no cheaper and not worth missing out on the full deal.
You need to have experience in at least three major UK mountain areas. These would be The Lakes, Scotland and Wales although The Peak, Dartmoor and Northern Ireland count as well.
You register on the scheme with Mountain Training and fill in a log book. This would show your experience in mountains going back as long as you can remember. The minimum number of Quality Mountain Days (QMDs) to attend a training course would be 20.

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Cross Fell from Kirkland

Perhaps not the first days of perfect weather this year but a stunning Spring jaunt from Kirkland over Cross Fell in a clockwise direction and back again in a comfortable four hours. Absolutely no-one around on the summit ridge. Not too wet underfoot either, just a few places where choice of line made a difference. On this occasion I had a day off from being a Mountain Leader and I was accompanied by John Moore and my dog JoJo who enjoyed lots of snuffling about in the grass. She reminded me of an ascent nearly twenty years ago with our previous Golden Retriever pup Corrie who was entertained for a while by the challenge of a cherry tomato at our lunch stop. No grouse to be seen this high up I presume because of the lack of heather but quite a few Curlew, Wheatear, LBJ’s, and I think the piping of an unseen Golden Plover.

The summit cairn / shelter is an impressive new affair and a super place for lunch with seating protected from all adverse wind directions. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph of it- will have to go back again! Shame!

Cross Fell is a Hewitt the highest English hill outside of the Lake District and much appreciated in these conditions. I can also recommend it as an evening walk to see the sunset if you are able to plan it. Navigating off the top in the dark  can be a challenge and in reasonable visibility a number of large cairns can be misleading so pay attention. My previous visit on a winter’s night was in rain and cloud and I have to admit, was not pleasant! In summer, however, there is always a lot of light after sunset to enable you to stroll north and west to pick up the good track down. Lower down we came across recent woodland planting along both sides of a little stream presumable to afford increased habitat for wildlife and maybe as a result of some agricultural grant or other.


Phil Tinning

Time on the hills.

There’s no substitute for experience and time on the hills is where you get it. Working in a wide variety of situations keeps the mind and body tuned in and prevents complacency! Over the last few weeks we have had some genuine winter weather and I have been able to take full advantage. I have walked in the Lomond Hills and Lake District in frosty conditions with temperature inversions, winter climbed on Great End and Brown Cove crags, and I have been ski touring on Skiddaw, around the Tarmachans near Killin, and Whiteside and Raise next to Helvellyn. This week I worked with GCSE students as part of their PE course Over Grisdale Pike and Whinlatter forest.

If you are keen to learn more about travelling in mountain areas, want to improve your navigation skills, or perhaps are becoming qualified as a Mountain Leader I can help. Get in touch by calling 077 66 916 702 or emailing freetimeoutdoors@gmail.com.