Three of our Cadet Force Adult Volunteers have completed the first part of the Lowland Leader Award at the Cadet Centre for Adventurous Training, Capel Curig, Wales.
The Army Cadet Force syllabus states that all adult instructors who take part in expeditions must have an ACF walking qualification, or have their Commandant’s authorisation and are encouraged to work towards such a qualification. One of these is the Lowland Leaders Award, the other two being ‘Hill and Moorland’ and ‘Mountain Leader’. For the Lowland Leaders, a list of criteria is given to define suitable areas, (which can be hilly) including that ‘walks must not cross any hazardous terrain’ and ‘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’ and also which are no more than 3Km from a car park or populated area.
AUO Whyall (left) and colleagues on the course. Picture: SSI Irving
The course is divided into two sections, training and assessment. Cambridgeshire ACF volunteers SSI Dale Irving, SI Andy Litt and AUO Ros Whyall attended the training part of the course 5-7th November, with the assessment section coming next year.
In order to qualify for the course, the CFAVs had to have completed ten expedition training days of their own accord. SI Litt completed his pre-course days in the Peak District, the Lake District and Wales. AUO Whyall completed hers in the Peterborough and Thetford areas, and SSI Irving, in Cambridgeshire.
SSI Irving studies a map during the Lowland Leader's course.
Arriving on the Friday, the students began the course the following morning with a briefing about the course and about safety, followed by a comprehensive equipment check. This involved demonstrating to the instructors that they had essential equipment such as waterproofs and first aid kits, but also a discussion of why they had brought particular items with them. SSI Irving said: ‘One thing I learned from this was the importance or carrying not just the right equipment for yourself, but also to help others, for example carrying a spare hat and gloves in case a cadet did not have these.’
(Left to right) SI Litt, SSI Irving and AUO Whyall and a colleague discuss their route. Picture: CCAT Training Team
They also had to consider the expected weather conditions and show they had planned accordingly. In this case, this meant heavy rain throughout the day. The students were divided into two groups of 4, each with an instructor with them throughout the route.
Some of the spectacular Welsh scenery. Picture: SSI Irving.
AUO Ros Whyall explained what they did: ‘On the first day, we went out into wooded area. Each of us was given a leg that we had to navigate. It was more technical navigation, having to find the correct path, several of which had been converted into cycle paths. That night we had to plan our next day. We were shown the route and then had to split our group down and decide who had what leg, and how long each leg should be. We were given detailed weather reports and had to determine what the weather was doing from a range of sources. Then we set out for a 10k walk. The navigation was easier as we were on more defined footpaths, but it was still challenging in places. We also had some casualty simulation training and how we would evacuate a casualty in different situations.’
SI Litt and a colleague. Picture: SSI Irving.
‘Navigation was taken in turns. The lead navigator led the group under the guidance of the instructor. They were responsible for group safety, morale and making the walk interesting, but the main responsibility was accurate navigation. We had to use a range of different maps such as OS (Ordnance Survey) and Harvey.’
SSI Irving said; ‘the biggest thing I took from the course was planning for the welfare of the whole group. As well as ensuring we have spare kit to help others, we also need to plan shorter routes that can be used as an alternative if the group is struggling. The course was brilliant. As well as learning a lot, we had a great rapport with the other students and instructors, which made it really enjoyable.’
SI Litt and a colleague. Picture; SSI Irving
AUO Ros Whyall said: ‘It was a very good course- really nice people and supportive instructors. I learned a lot about how to manage all the different elements that are needed, such as safety, navigation and adding interest to the expedition by being able to talk about the history of the area, as well as learning more about casualty evacuation in the event of an emergency. The walks were really good, it was lovely to get out into a quite remote area within the bounds of the lowland course. It was also good to work as a team, and I look forward to going back and completing my assessment. She went on: ‘It is really important that more adults, and older cadets obtain walking qualifications as they are essential for our future expeditions.’
As well as adult Instructors, Senior Cadets (17 and over) can apply for this course, please speak to your Detachment Commander.
Text by PI Doug Stuart with thanks to AUO Ros Whyall and SSI Dale Irving.