Lowland Leader Award Training

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1 Lowland Leader Award Training The Following information is intended as a useful supplementary training guide for those progressing through the Lowland leader Award. Useful facts and reminders on topics covered during Spirit of Adventures training course are contained in the following pages. It is important to remember that it is up to the individual candidate to expand their personal skills and knowledge before attending an assessment. Further research on topics may be necessary. The Scope of the Lowland Leader Award The Lowland Leader Award trains and assesses candidates in the skills required to lead others on walks in lowland countryside and woodland that fit ALL of the following criteria: Walks must not cross any hazardous terrain (e.g. cliffs, very steep slopes, water hazards etc.). Throughout the walk the group should never generally be more than 3km away from a key access point such as a car park, lay-by or populated area. Any potential escape routes should also lie within the scope of the defined terrain for the Lowland Leader award. Walks will require the ability to plan routes, use simple navigation skills using a map and compass and be self-sufficient. Walks must follow paths or tracks that are both marked on a map and clearly visible on the ground and that do not require navigation across untracked areas. Walks must use bridges or other recognised water crossing points. Walks must only take place in summer conditions (ie when there is no unavoidable snow or ice on any part of the route). As with all Mountain Training awards, a combination of technical competence, leadership skills and a wide range of experience form the basis of effective group management. The scheme addresses all these elements. However, the employer or operating authority must ultimately decide whether a leader possesses the personal attributes needed to take responsibility for any particular group of people.

2 Access and Legislation As a Lowland Leader an understanding of rights of way and access are paramount to a successful day out. Nobody wishes to be told You can t walk here!! or find paths have been blocked or rights of way barred when walking with your group. Some key points are listed below. CRoW Act The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (or CRoW Act) is a Parliamentary Act affecting England and Wales which came into force on 30 November The Act was a significant relaxation of the rules that used to prevent access to the countryside and it is still a major victory for organisations such as the BMC who have been campaigning for over a century for the right to roam. The right of access came into effect across the whole of England on October 31 October Day Discretionary Restrictions- Land owners or farm tenants may restrict the access under CRoW for any reason for up to 28 days per year. These 28 days may not be Christmas Day, Good Friday, Bank Holidays or more than four Saturdays or Sundays in total, any Saturday in the period starting 1st June to 11th August, any Sunday in the period starting 1st June to 30th September. Countryside Code Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs. Leave gates and property as you find them. Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home. Keep dogs under close control. Consider other people. Other Considerations Other restrictions to access may be due to bird nesting, lambing, farming, firing ranges. Outbreaks such as foot and mouth disease can greatly impact on access. The use of websites such as the BMC (British Mountaineering council), Ramblers Association, National Park and National Trust are great resources for finding out about access. Pay attention to any signs and follow instructions if necessary.

3 The Weather Having an understanding on the forecasting and impact of weather systems can greatly enhance the quality of a day out. A basic working knowledge is an important factor when planning routes. This will ensure that your party turn up correctly prepared and that you have organised a suitable day out. Synoptic Charts Since we live on an island our weather is greatly influenced from weather systems that predominantly develop out at sea. The easiest way to understand these weather systems is to look at Atlantic Synoptic Charts. Synoptic charts can give us three important clues to the forthcoming weather, wind direction, wind speed, and precipitation (rainfall). The above chart shows a typical low pressure system. Since the winds in a low pressure system go in an anti-clockwise direction around the isobars, the winds on the above chart would be south westerly over Devon and Cornwall. For each isobar that crosses the UK add approximately 5mph of wind speed. On the above chart this would mean speeds of about 20mph across the UK. The black lines with either red, blue or combination of both markings are the frontal systems. These show the direction and line of precipitation. Since on the above chart there are no frontal systems above Devon and Cornwall then there would be no precipitation at the this moment in time. However, there is a frontal system out in the Atlantic and since a low moves anti-clockwise, that would soon be heading towards us. Rain would be expected later. The above chart would give you a rough prediction of south westerly winds, 20mph wind speeds (not including gusts) and possibly rain due later.

4 Weather cont. Weather Fronts Weather fronts are defined on synoptic charts in one of three ways Warm Front (black or red line with red semi circles), Cold Front (black or blue line with blue triangles) or an Occluded Front (combination of both the symbols for warm and cold fronts). Warm fronts will always develop first and will be followed by a cold front. Where a cold front catches up with a warm front this known as an occluded front. Clouds Cloud formations can give us a good indication of any fronts forming. Incoming Warm fronts are usually identified by high cirrus clouds (mares tails, or a herring bone pattern high in the sky). As the front approaches the clouds thicken and visibility can drop. Big anvil type clouds are typical of cold fronts are usually a sign of thunderstorms. Cumulus, the white fluffy clouds are a sign of settled weather and that the frontal systems have passed. Wind Speed Wind speed is graded using the Beaufort Scale and goes from Force 0 to 12. Force 0 to 5 would be fine to walk. Force 6 would need caution as at the higher end of this grade large branches would be swaying and therefore woodland walks may not be advisable due to the risk of faling branches. Force 7 to 9 these are classed as gale force and would be very difficult to walk against. Coastal and woodland walks would not be advisable. Force 10 to 12 suggest these speeds are not suitable for walking with groups!!! Summary With advances in technology weather information is readily available from the internet to smart phones. Local radio is a good source for local predictions and can often differ from national forecasts. Remember, warm dry weather can bring its own challenges when walking with and managing groups as a leader.

5 The Environment To give your group a quality day it is important to have a good working knowledge of the lowland environment. To be able to point out common hedgerow plants and trees as well as birds and insects can enhance your credibility as a leader and will give your day added value. Tips to improving your knowledge By pre planning your walk you may get an idea of plants and trees you may pass en route. It may be wise to carry a small field guide in your rucksack. A pre printed crib card may be useful with some useful facts, especially if you are going to see something specific. Take pictures and research them later. Most mobile phones have good cameras. Local leaflets from tourist information offices can be a useful resource to carry. A small pair of binoculars may be a useful addition to your equipment for the day. Don t forget to look at what is about your feet. Even on a misty day there will be things to see. Equipment Tips Develop a sound knowledge of what is deemed appropriate equipment. On wet days wellies may be an ideal footwear for walking along tracks while trainers could be suitable in the dry. Price is no guarantee of quality. Some budget brands can provide adequate protection from the elements. Hats and gloves can prove to be invaluable garments to carry at any time of year, even on a summers evening. Carry a rucksack that is both comfortable and spacious. No point trying to tightly pack everything into a small bag.

6 Pre Assessment Checklist Once you are confident and feel ready for assessment it is essential that you also have the necessary minimum requirements. Have you: Attended a Lowland Leader Training Course Logged a minimum of 20 quality walking days in the required scope of the award. Preferably this should be logged on the MT CMS DLog. Have attained a First Aid certificate. This must be of a duration of no less than 16 hours. Can you: Demonstrate adequate navigational skills that are required for the award. Demonstrate a working knowledge of the lowland environment including some basic knowledge of flowers, fauna, history/industry that may be encountered. Demonstrate the skills necessary to deal with incidents that may be encountered whilst walking with groups. Demonstrate the ability to use information and resources that will aid in the forecasting of weather. Plan day walks suitable for the Lowland Leader. Demonstrate an understanding of access and countryside issues. Note: It may not be possible to be assessed on all aspects of the Lowland Leader Award during the two day assessment. It is however essential that you have read the Lowland Leader syllabus and you are comfortable with what is required. The Syllabus is downloadable from the MT website.

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