Catriona Webster

Summer Mountain Leader training, October 2017


I embarked on this course with the aim of improving my skills and confidence as a volunteer walk leader with the Edinburgh Young Walkers (EYW) group. With no formal training, I had a good grasp of navigation and leadership in the mountains but knew there was so much more to learn to consolidate this. Completing this course with the help of the Trust has taken me to a whole new level of knowledge and understanding and really inspired me to get out more to lead others on walks.

Over the week, our group of 12 covered every aspect of mountain leadership, from planning, preparation and kit to micro navigation, emergency procedures and rope work. We analysed the weather and learnt how to read synoptic charts; honed bearings, pacing and reading the ground; practiced rope belaying,  anchor selection and abseil methods; explored emergency procedures and techniques for river crossing and covered route choice and group management. Each day we headed out into the Cairngorms to put what we had learnt into practice and discover more about the environment and habitat around us, enjoying mostly fine conditions despite forecasts of high winds and snow.

The week culminated in a two-day expedition that brought together every aspect of the course and put us to the test on individual navigation and leadership legs. Travelling into the Cairngorms, we wild camped at the Fords of Avon where we had our first taste of night navigation, the ultimate challenge, particularly in the rain! From the comradeship of the group and the excellent Lodge facilities and food to our endlessly patient and knowledgeable instructors Mark and Alex, the course was beyond my expectations in every way. I am now feeling inspired to get out there with my group, practice everything that I’ve learnt and hopefully pass the assessment before year is out!  My sincere thanks go to the Trust for helping to make this experience possible.

Link to Catriona’s subsequent assessment

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