One of the most impressive things I found when I first joined RAMSOC was the way the walks were lead, by capable, cheerful leaders who (almost) always seemed to know where they were going, as well as chat to everyone in the group to keep even the most reluctant hill-climber going. So, when the opportunity came up to train to lead walks myself, I couldn’t think of a better way to give back to the club.
Our training day began when we arrived in Edale car park, handing out maps, compasses and headtorches and trying to ignore the persistent drizzle. We split into two groups with a mix of trainees and experienced leaders, and set off on different routes up the hill. Our first exercise was general navigation and also involved using our surroundings to locate ourselves. One trainee was in charge of map reading, whilst the other two were banned from looking at their maps and compasses at all, but had to rely on their memory and powers of observation to re-orientate once we arrived at a new checkpoint.
Despite being unsure to start with, we soon got the hand of picking out where we were based on drystone walls, hills around us and the direction of the path. The views as we climbed were incredible.
As the morning wore on, however, the weather sadly didn’t improve; if anything it worsened as we became more exposed at the top of the hill. Lunch was eaten sheltering under a rock just below the summit, and I was very glad I’d remembered to pack a flask of hot tea! We didn’t let the rain stop us, though, and were soon battling our way over the top, though the wind was almost strong enough to blow me over! On the other side, all the trainees having successfully navigated their leg of the journey, we began some micronavigation, measuring our paces to try to judge the distance to a particular landmark. It was easy to see why we might have to use micro navigation in the future, as the visibility was only getting worse! Our route led us back up the hill to the hollow where we had eaten lunch, and we quickly put up a bothy to keep the rain out and the warmth in whilst we waited for the other group.
Although we had planned a night descent down, unfortunately it was too cold and wet to stay at the top for long, so the leaders made the decision to scramble down the rocks earlier than planned. For me, that was the highlight of the day, jumping and weaving in between the rocks to follow the river back down to Edale.
By Fran Francis