Peak Walking Adventures Guides, Richard Tower and Rachel Bolton, are both qualified Mountain Leaders (‘MLs’). Richard describes the ML training and says ‘make the most of us!’ …
“I was walking the Lakeland Fells one summer night with friends. Distant, two sharp beams of light hovered and then sunk abruptly behind a ridge.
In reality, the ‘beams’ were other MLs practising night navigation. Undertaken with head torches, map, compass and watch, someone identifies a feature on the map and everyone paces through the night to find it, typically a sheepfold, knoll, or kink in a stream.
Other ML skills include route planning, making safe decisions, looking after people on steep ground or dealing with a rare emergency. They all form a part of the Summer Mountain Leader Qualification which is overseen by national awarding-body, Mountain Training.
So, on our guided walks we’re happy to share what we know. Our areas of learning include:
Awareness of Landscape
We take an interest in the rock we walk on, how it was formed and how, through the processes of movement, pressure, heat, glaciation and erosion, its created the landscape we walk in today. Did you know Derbyshire’s White Peak was formed around 350 million years ago, in a warm tropical sea teeming with wildlife from sharks to shells, whose calcareous skeletons hardened into the Limestone formations we see today?
Flora and Fauna
We learn about small uplands plants such as the bright, yellow leafed Tormentil, variously used in the Middle Ages as a treatment for gum disorders and stomach upsets; or the sticky, carnivorous Sundew, which supplements limited nutrition from upland soil, by trapping and digesting live insects. We watch for birds, such as ground nesting Sky Larks, which shoot into the summer sky, with a persistent trill to warn us away. Or the large Mountain Hares, often spotted on the high ground of Bleaklow in the Peak District.
We learn about mountain weather and sources of information such as the Met Office Mountain and how various forecasts might differ from each other. You can ask us about cloud formations above, why the wind strength feels like it’s doubled at 1000 metres, or why there’s a halo around the sun.
Access and Maps
We might recount the turbulent history surrounding public access to the hills, famously marked by the Manchester and Sheffield workers’ Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout. Or chat about the public’s ‘right to roam’ on Access Land. Access land is clearly marked on the Ordnance Survey (OS) maps we carry, each map a part of OS’s world-famous mapping system, set up in the late 18th century.
Kit and Nutrition
We’re happy to share our equipment knowledge. What type of tent is best in strong wind?, lightweight gear versus durability? There’s nutrition too; if it’s a long day will you need 4,000 calories and how much water? Is it better to ‘snack and nibble’, or pack loads of lunchtime sandwiches?
Most importantly, ML training teaches us that a mountain or moorland is a ‘whole’, an interconnected environment. An appreciation of these precious landscapes and our involvement within them is a lifetime’s learning. We’re happy to share what we know or find out for you if we don’t. After all, we want you to enjoy a great day’s walking, whether your interest is a wooded Welsh valley, an historic stroll across Yorkshire moorland, or a craggy Lake District summit with far-reaching views.”
For information about our Guided Walks or Navigation Courses visit: www.peakwalking.com
We also offer a number of wellbeing and team walks for Corporate or Private Guided Walk Groups. If you would like to find out more, do contact us.