The Mountain Lodge was filled with compasses and maps last weekend as our February Hill Skills Course ran in the back drop of glorious conditions in the Reeks. Saturday morning started with introductions and briefing over tea, coffee and toast. As breakfast ended, all participants were handed blank route cards and looks of wonder where followed by "What do we do with this?"
And so the course began - the group were reassured that by later that morning, they would have all the skills they required to complete the card for use of navigation on any hill. After a morning of Navigation Skill training, and with completed route cards, everybody headed out onto the hills following the routes as they had set out.
While one navigated, another timed and another paced. This was rotated until the planned route was completed. On arrival back at the Lodge, compass skills were tested by following bearings to specific points. After a debriefing, the day ended as the group broke with some home work to do! On Sunday morning, another route card was filled out that set the plan for the days walk. Referencing the map, the route looked like a moderate walk with no obstacles...However on the ground, the group came across a man made forest which presented the team with an excellent obstacle and the skills gained in feature recognition & pacing/timing were found to be very useful.
The day on the hills was rounded up by an introduction to confidence Rope Work. Back at the Lodge for debriefing and the group were invited to take up a challenge- to plan a route in a local mountain range near them where one of our trainers would be available to join them on the walk and to shadow them to ensure confidence in all skills learned.
This self development course has been designed over a number of years by Pat in conjunction with our trainers Tony Nation & Ian O Neill - the objective seeing each participant develop skills in basic navigation, firstly without a compass and later, with a compass. 'We also cover route planning, pacing & Naismith's Rule. As well as covering all aspects of navigation, we also cover care on steep ground, hypothermia, emergency gear & care of gear. The Leave No Trace policy features throughout all our training courses. Our aim is to help to keep people safe on the hills and further their enjoyment'