Being the beginning of summer you might not want to start thinking about winter walks just yet, soaking in as much sun as you can whilst it's still around. But for some, preparation is already beginning.
Winter walks can sometimes be some of the most rewarding adventures, offering snow capped peaks and frozen rivers. These amazing walks can also be the most inaccessible though, especially in the Scottish Highlands where terrain can be unpredictable, weather can change in an instant and where the remote wilderness can leave you feeling exposed and insecure. It's at these times when having an experienced Winter Mountain Leader with you can prove invaluable and make for a much more enjoyable and safer adventure.
Edinburgh Young Walkers (EYW) are a walking group based in, you guessed it.. Edinburgh! It's an active community of ramblers in their 20s, 30s and 40s, giving a central space for folks to communicate, share advice and organise hikes through the Highlands.
The EYM are run by a committee with a variety of roles, one of which is Walks Programme Coordinator and held by volunteer walk leader Cat Webster. The key role of Walks Programme Coordinator is to maintain a regular and varied walk programm and give confidence to and encourage other young walkers to take on bigger roles such as walk leaders.
Cat got in touch with us at the Alpkit Foundation after realising they are limited in thewalks they can safely lead during the winter months due to having a lack of qualified Winter Mountain Leaders. In order to remove this barrier to enjoying the Scottish mountains in winter, Cat wants to take on the WML course to get people going nice places and doing good things through winter.
Cat told us...
Scotlands mountains in winter can be a transformational experience,offering a whole new world of challenge and wonder, but one that far fewer people experience due to a lack of skills or confidence. As walks programme coordinator and a volunteer walk leader for the Edinburgh Young Walkers group I want to help and inspire others, particularlyyoung women,to access winter walking in a safe and enjoyable way. By completing the Winter Mountain Leader Award I will consolidate my knowledge, experience and skills allowing me to confidently lead groups in this environment and pass on these skills.
Our group currently has more than 260 active members many of whom have completed winter skills courses but donít yet feel they have the confidence to venture out without a knowledgeable leader. Consequently our walks programme is significantly thinner over the winter months. During the course of completing my Summer Mountain Leader qualification last year I led more than 20 walks for the group helping more than 100 people to access and enjoy the outdoors and in completing the winter qualification I would hope to surpass this number.
There's no better way to spead the joy the outdoors brings than actually getting out there and experiencing it for yourself, that's why we're happy to be able to support Cat and the EYW so that more people can gain the skills and confidence to have adventures all year round.