Leadership Courses for Group Walking
Mountain Leader Training UK have been making some changes to their qualification courses, and one area that has received a significant makeover are the courses that target entry level instructors. Previously known as the Walking Group Leader award, or WGL, the new name is the Hill and Moorland Leader, and it is joined by a new award known as the Lowland Leader. As with all of the MLTUK courses, although they set the syllabus, you are free to take the actual course with a third party provider, and as you will see from our jobs and courses sections, there are plenty of options!
Who are these new and updated courses for?
Lowland group leaders can be defined as those seeking to take people on day walks in lowland or forestry areas and in non winter conditions. This award will be relevant to far more people than the old Walking Group Leader (which included overnight camping! – a useful, but perhaps not really necessary skill for a lot of party leaders). You may be simply someone who enjoys walking outdoors who would like to pick up some skills and knowledge for the times that you are joined by friends or family members. You could be working towards your Duke of Edinburgh award. You may be a countryside ranger or wildlife manager where being outdoors is part of your daily job description. Or you may be responsible for youth groups such as scouts or guides, or school children.
The Hill and Moorland group leaders course is for those who need to be on upland terrain, but who are happy to detour around obstacles that would involve any form of climbing. If you are planning to cover terrain that includes significant areas of rocky outcrops and some rope work, then you need to take the Mountain Leader award. The scope of both these new courses can be increased by taking a subsequent module that covers over night camps.
What skills are covered?
Because these courses are designed for people who will be responsible for the safety and well-being of other people during their walks, as well as testing your own technical abilities on the relevant terrain (lowland or upland), the course will also seek to equip you with and test you for the skills required to lead others. So as well as being able to plan and navigate by use of maps, you will be required to avoid and deal with hazards, plus manage your group and show good leadership. Elements of environmental issues and access rights will also be covered.
Lowland Leader: two days training (should cost you about £150) followed by a consolidation period during which time you will need to put into practice what you have learned during training, and log at least another twenty days of walking, and then two days assessment (should cost you about £150).
Hill and Moorland Leader: very similar format except three days training (about £200) followed by a consolidation period and then three days assessment (about £200).
Expedition Skills module: an optional two day course that includes both training and assessment (about £150) designed to allow people who have completed either of the two awards above to increase what they can offer by extending the amount of time and therefore distance they can cover. This module is especially useful for those on the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme.
The prices above are simply our guideline of what you should be expecting to pay. Each accredited course provider is free to set their own prices and so the cost of your course may vary. Check exactly what is being offered by each provider as this may account for any variations in price.
Registration with MLTUK costs just shy of forty pounds. You need to do this to take part in any of their training courses. They give you access to a digital log book – a required part of all of their courses is logging your walking and climbing activities.
You must be able to show that you have completed twenty quality hill walks. The full definition for this can be found on their website if you want to know more.
You will also need a valid two day first aid qualification before you can take the assessment part of any of these courses.
What jobs are available?
While these two awards do not lead directly to any specific job, the types of skills you will learn will be valuable to employers in a wide range of industries. The most obvious reason to take these two courses, as we have already discussed above, is so that you can share outdoor experiences with other people. If you are considering taking either course, it is likely that you already have a duty of care for a group or groups, and you need to gain the qualification to allow you to do your job in a responsible manner. Or, you are aiming to develop a career in outdoor education and you are taking them so that you can move up to the Mountain Leader award.
Other Outdoor Skills Courses
Although you may not realise it given their popularity, the MLTUK courses are not the only option, so how do they compare to other outdoor skills courses? Being part of the National Governing Body for climbing and mountain sports, Mountain Training’s courses are always going to be the most popular, especially if you plan to go on to bigger things. But what if you are only interested in Lowland or Moorland Walking and have no intention of one day becoming an international mountaineer. In that case, there are other courses you can take that have a similar goal of teaching you how to make the most of outdoor walking.
South West Mountain and Moorland Leader Training Scheme – a region specific alternative may be worth a look if you are based in South West England and do not plan to lead groups in any other part of the country.
Day Walk Leadership – a series of courses organised by Sports Leaders UK, designed to allow people to learn how to lead and take responsibility for groups in lowland areas of the UK.
British Hill Walking Leaders Certificate – Equipment, navigation, weather, route planning, access, safety and survival. This is a course covering all aspects of group leadership for hill walkers in summer conditions.
NNAS – the National Navigation Award Scheme. Divided into Bronze, Silver and Gold level, this scheme concentrates on walking and navigation at a personal level. You will acquire many of the same technical skills, but without the group management and responsibilities aspect.