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Dartmoor and QMDs

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 GaryHW 04 Aug 2022

Can anyone enlighten me as to why dartmoor isn't includable (is that a word) for QMDs for prospective ML training?

Or is it?

After all the marines train there... The weather's generally crap and the tors, whilst not mountains, do have height and mountainous weather. Also from my understanding ML training doesn't involve climbing anyway so a good tor like Yes Tor would surely be equal to some of the low lying hills elsewhere?

Thanks in advance for your help 

In reply to GaryHW:

Is it not? I don't know much about the ML, but I'd defy anyone to say something like this wasn't a quality mountain day - and a lot more challenging than most elsewhere in terms of terrain and navigation (distance aside):

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/logbook/r/?i=1387

Or these:

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/logbook/r/?i=1215

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/logbook/r/?i=1307

OP GaryHW 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your reply. 

I have to agree that's why I asked. 

Maybe I'm wrong, I'd certainly hope so but sadly, unless I'm corrected that's my belief?!

I think the BMC made noises about it being included but no clarification has been forth coming. 

 Cheese Monkey 04 Aug 2022
In reply to GaryHW:

I would argue that any regular Dartmoor day is at least as challenging than a lot of mountain days, mostly due to the lack of defined paths and tricky navigation

 Harry Jarvis 04 Aug 2022
In reply to GaryHW:

Rather than asking here, you could look at what the awarding body has to say on the subject:

'Usually some or all of these criteria would be fulfilled:

the individual takes part in the planning and leadership

navigation skills are required away from marked paths

experience must be in terrain and weather comparable to that found in UK and Irish hills

knowledge is increased and skills practised

attention is paid to safety

five hours or more journey time

adverse conditions may be encountered

ascent of a substantial peak would normally be included in the day'

Dartmoor obviously fails on the latter criterium. However, the question 'Are the North York Moors and Dartmoor to be considered mountainous areas?' has the following answer:

'No. Mountain Training however acknowledge that learning can occur in the most diverse of environments. If you believe that a particular experience in a non-mountainous area contributed towards your development and met the definition of a quality mountain day, it may be recorded as a QMD in your DLOG.

It is the course director's responsibility to ensure that candidates satisfy the prerequisites. Challenging days on the North York Moors/Dartmoor may therefore contribute to the QMD total. It’s up to the course director's discretion.

It is worth noting that candidates that have significant experience in what Mountain Training consider to be mountainous areas usually benefit greatly from training and subsequently perform well at assessment.'

https://www.mountain-training.org/qualifications/walking/mountain-leader/mountain-leader-faqs

 Wainers44 04 Aug 2022
In reply to GaryHW:

You will probably get a proper answer from a proper course director in a mo. But in the meantime...

Dartmoor is my home patch and is not to be underestimated as a hazardous environment,  especially in winter.  However,  unless you decide to climb the Tor tops themselves,  it simply isn't mountainous and the type of hazard is far more condition related than terrain related.  Exception to this is maybe river crossing,  but note that the catchments on the moor are comparatively short. 

I have trained and assessed on ML courses and although having a good number of long Dartmoor days in the log is a good thing, they only support the mountainous QMD's they don't replace them.

You have to remember that the "candidate" may next be headed into the remotest areas of the Scottish Highlands leading a group of kids, off the back of the ML ticket and so the base of experience has to be right I think.

OP GaryHW 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Harry Jarvis:

Thanks Harry.

That's helpful and I have looked at the mountain training criteria but I am still unsure or unclear hence why I seek enlightenment. 

What's a 'substantial peak' for example... Yes Tor is what 619m above sea level does that count? I think to me its the clarity that's lacking.

As a ML candidate would I want to spend time clocking up miles on dartmoor only to have an assessor disqualify them as they feel they don't tick the right boxes. If that's the case time would be better spent travelling to snowdonia and clocking them up there. Agreed all time spent outdoors is time well spent but if time is limited as it is to so many people who have to work for a living then targeted goals are better. 

As an aside, 'experience must be in terrain and weather comparable to that found in UK and Irish hills' some parts of Scandinavia for example tick that box and again aren't counted. 

You can see the confusion. I just feel to much is left open to interpretation and perspective of assessors. 

I'm not trying to rock the boat either I'm just curious as to the why of it all. 

 Harry Jarvis 04 Aug 2022
In reply to GaryHW:

> What's a 'substantial peak' for example... Yes Tor is what 619m above sea level does that count? I think to me its the clarity that's lacking.

619m does not sound to me like a substantial peak to me, given that it is not very much of ascent from the surrounding ground.

> As a ML candidate would I want to spend time clocking up miles on dartmoor only to have an assessor disqualify them as they feel they don't tick the right boxes. If that's the case time would be better spent travelling to snowdonia and clocking them up there. Agreed all time spent outdoors is time well spent but if time is limited as it is to so many people who have to work for a living then targeted goals are better. 

Now that you know that days on Dartmoor are only considered at the discretion of the assessor, it would seem to me to be a slightly risky strategy to rely on days on Dartmoor.

OP GaryHW 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Cheese Monkey:

Hi cheese monkey absolutely agree. A lot of mountain walks these days are like following a motorway. 

 Paul at work 04 Aug 2022
In reply to GaryHW:

The odd substantial Dartmoor day, particularly in poor weather, would be acceptable as a Quality Mountain Day. The key issue is that the terrain isn't mountainous enough, and having loads of Dartmoor days doesn't necessarily prepare you appropriately for leading people in the Mountains of North Wales, the Lake District or Scotland. 

While Dartmoor is particularly suited to the Hill and Moorland Leader award. 

As a Course Director of the Lowland, Hill and Moorland and Mountain Leader schemes, I can say from first hand experience, that those candidates that have most of their experience on Dartmoor and South Wales for instance, struggle on the steeper ground elements of leading people, navigating and just moving around in the Mountain environment where you are going to be assessed.

OP GaryHW 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Wainers44:

Cheers Wainers, that makes sense. That said a group of kids in trouble in remotes Scotland and a group of kids in trouble in the middle of dartmoor probably are in the same type of brown sticky stuff.

But I do see the logic there at least so thank you. 

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 Paul at work 04 Aug 2022
In reply to GaryHW:

> As an aside, 'experience must be in terrain and weather comparable to that found in UK and Irish hills' some parts of Scandinavia for example tick that box and again aren't counted. 

> ​

You would need to show to an assessor that the terrain is comparable to that you are being assessed in. So for instance being off the beaten track in Scandinavia and ascending remote rocky mountains, could possibly count, but doing a journey along the Kings Trail may not. Each assessor, doesn't have the local knowledge to be able to give a definitive answer without knowing the key details of where you went and what you were doing. 

Either way that broader experience of having done some walking in Scandinavia, may help to demonstrate your all round skills as a Mountain Leader.

OP GaryHW 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Paul at work:

Hi Paul,

Absolutely get it. And thanks for some clarity there. 

Interestingly the question that now springs to mind is does someone who only or majoritively has experience in steep training have the same overall ability as someone whose done both? Of course as you say experience on the moors reenforces experience in the hills so shouldn't this be encouraged? Targeted results i.e only x y or z qualify could mean people tick the boxes but don't grow there skills outside that box?

Crickey I'm not sure I made sense there. But it's been a fascinating thread so far. 

OP GaryHW 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Paul at work:

Again thanks Paul. Kebnekiase is on my wish list. 

 Paul at work 04 Aug 2022
In reply to GaryHW:

I would put it down to risk management and decision making. Think more about what happens when someone's navigation is off. On the moors, they may get wet feet, in the mountains they find themselves at the top of a huge cliff. And Yes I know Dartmoor has cliffs and that a fall from a cliff can still be fatal, but those cliffs tend to be much more easily avoided. 

Also think about the development of the awards. For a significant amount of time the Mountain Leader was the only real MT walking award. A number of people would do the training and then not do the assessment for the scheme as they (or their employers/deployers) weren't taking people out in the mountains. Some research was done and those people were mainly leading in 'Open, uncultivated, non-mountainous high or remote country known variously as upland, moor, bog, fell, hill or down’. So the Hill and Moorland Leader scheme was introduced as the Walking Group Leader in 2001. There is a similar story for the Lowland Leader as well.

OP GaryHW 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Paul at work:

Paul you are a font of knowledge and I thank you again so your time.

All makes perfect sense and for me while Dartmoor is my stomping ground I am more than happy to nip over to Wales or 'up coubtry' to tick a few boxes.

I guess the bottom line is, as we used to say in the army, 'once you pass the course then you start to learn your job.' i.e you've met the minimum standard required. And there has to be a standard to work against. 

In reply to GaryHW:

In a nutshell, Dartmoor 'QMDs' are a valued add-on to the 'essential' QMDs undertaken on UK mountains but not a replacement, and no-one should actively go out to do trips to Dartmoor to log them as QMDs - they should go to Snowdonia/Lakes/Scotland. Same goes for days done in the Alps, or Norway (even though Norwegian mountain areas are incredibly similar to UK ones). The UK ML award is unashamedly designed for proving the holder can operate safely on UK mountains only, and thus the experience requirements reflect that.  Any assessor worth their salt knows that Dartmoor navigation and weather is easily the equal of that in more mountainous areas and will respect that, but the QMD requirements are strict in their scope and an aspirant ML also needs to respect that.

  For what it's worth, I've never bothered because I'd rather spend my holidays in the Alps in the sun instead of UK mountains in the pissing rain - if I lived on mainland UK where I could get my QMDs in by doing weekend trips it would be different, but for me a UK QMD involves 2 flights and a hire car or 2 ferry trips and lots of driving as I live in the Channel Islands.

Post edited at 17:37
 BuzyG 05 Aug 2022
In reply to GaryHW:

A good thread to read through.  The south west moors are my stomping ground.  I love them, but, with the exception of the area around Yes tor and Branscomb loaf. I don't consider them mountainous.  That little corner though most certainly is.  It even had a glacia in last ice age, hence the steeper ground. Not found elsewhere on Dartmoor.  That aside, what is usually missing from a day on the moors, is a section of sustained scrambling.  In all my years I have never taken a rope on a walk up there.  Plenty of great climbing. But you can avoid most every crag very easily. That is often not the case in other mountainous areas of the UK, where it is all to easy to walk onto dangerous ground, for the less experienced. For navigation mind, I would judge the moors as remote and in clag more difficult to navigate, than most more mountainous areas of the UK.  So it's horses for course.

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