How To Prepare For Your Mountain Leader Assessment #1: Quality Mountain Days in the Lake District


In this series we will be giving you some top tips and advice about preparing for your Mountain Leader assessment. We’ll be sharing quality mountain days (QMDs) suggestions for different parts of the country, and giving you an insight into what your assessor will be looking for in each candidate.

18.04 Mountain Leader assessment Lake District 03 1500px.jpeg

 Logging QMDs should be a big part of your preparation for your Mountain Leader assessment. Before training you should have had at least twenty days in your log, and by the time you do your assessment, you should have minimum of forty in three different regions in the UK and Ireland.

 According to the Mountain Training website, the quality of a mountain day is determined by:

  • the conditions experienced both overhead and underfoot

  • the exploration of new areas

  • the terrain covered

  • the physical and mental challenge

 The experience must be in terrain and weather comparable to that found in UK and Irish hills, and some or all of the following criteria must be fulfilled:

  • you personally takes part in the planning and leadership

  • navigation skills are required away from marked paths

  • your knowledge is increased and your skills are practiced

  • attention is paid to safety

  • the journey is five hours or more

  • adverse conditions may be encountered

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

18.08 Mountain Leader training Lake District 01 1500px.jpeg

We’ll add a couple of things to that:

  • choose routes where a variety of types of navigation are needed – steeper ground vs more open moorland/rolling terrain

  • do mountains that you know well by routes that you don’t know well

Here are five suggestions for QMDs in the Lake District. We have used the OS 1:25000 maps – place names on other maps are sometimes different or not noted at all.

1  The Coniston Fells

Park at fell gate on Walna Scar GR288971 / along the Walna Scar road / up Little Arrow Moor and Old Man Breast off path / Goat’s Hawse / Dow Crag / Blind Tarn off path / back to car

2  Fairfield from Patterdale

Park at Patterdale GR396159 / Arnison Crag off path / Trough Head / Cold Cove / Gavel Pike / Sleet Cove / contour round to Greenhow End and into Link Cove / Hart Crag / Fairfield / down St Sunday Crag / off path to Birks / follow ridge down to Thornhow End / back to car

18.01 Mountain Leader training Lake District 01 1500px.jpeg

3  Angletarn Pikes and The Knott

Park at Hartsop GR409132 / follow footpath to Dubhow Gill / ascend gill to Angletarn Pikes / Cat Crag / Brock Crags / head of Calfgate Gill / Rest Dodd summit / The Knott / descend by Sulphury Gill / back to car

4  Dale Head and High Spy

Park on Honister Pass GR225135 / north towards Dale Head / traverse off path under Yew Crag and Buckstone How / Molds / Dale Head summit / Dale Head tarn / Lobstone Band / Low Scawdell / High Spy summit / High Scawdell / back to car 

5  Hardknott and Little Stand

Park at Cockley Beck GR247017 / off path up Dod Pike / Hardknott summit / Yew Bank / Junction of Lingcove Beck and Swinsty Gill / Adam-a-Cove / past Stonesty Pike to the top of Stonesty Gill / Little Stand summit / Gaitscale Close / back to car


Watch out for future posts with more QMD recommendations in other areas of the UK, and insider info on what your assessor is looking for.

18.01 Mountain Leader training Lake District 02 1500px.jpeg