I always enjoy working in the outdoors, but there is something a bit special about working on courses that are designed to develop skills and teach new techniques to those that really want to learn. It’s a great privilege to be involved in people’s development and watch them grow in confidence and understanding. I’ve spent that last 2 days with Sles and Julie whohave both been keen walkers for a number of years but, for different reasons, decided it was time to brush up on their navigation skills.
We met up on Friday morning just outside of Hope Bowdler , near Church Stretton. I’d picked this area due to it’s extensive network of footpaths and relatively easy access for Sles and Julie coming from home. With the mist hanging not far above our heads, I decided to start off by discussing clothing and equipment considerations to give things a chance to clear a little.
With only 2 on the course, it was amazing how quickly we were able to cover course content. It gave everyone ample opportunity to question and discuss various issues of personal interest, concern or confusion. We didn’t cover a huge distance during the day, but that’ s not the point. The aim is to learn and practice navigational strategies, not to walk huge distances. We actually managed to cover 90% of the course content on Friday, introducing Sles and Julie to a range of tools they could use to find their way around the map and the countryside. After a relatively warm and dry morning, the afternoon became very wet, putting everyone’s waterproofs to the test and encouraging us to keep moving rather than stand around discussing things too much.
Sles had mentioned walking on the Breidden Hills, west of Shrewsbury, and the home of Rodney’s Pillar (a memorial to Admiral Rodney, a British Naval officer from the 18th Century). Although relatively close to home, Julie had never walked there, and it seemed like an appropriate place to spend our second day. Having already covered most of the course content, it left Saturday as an opportunity to practice the things that had already been looked at around Hope Bowdler. As the morning passed by, I gradually handed over more and more of the decision making and both took this on very well.
After a leisurely lunch stop on the south western top of Middletown Hill, it was time to start the assessed section of the course. Although I made no announcement of this fact, I’m sure that both Sles and Julie were aware of what was going on when I started to ask them to work independently of each other. However, as expected, they both performed very well and had no issues of concern. More than anything, it was fantastic to enjoy a lovely place, on a sunny afternoon with great company.
Thank you, and congratulations to you both.