CTE assessment weekend: March 2003
Twelve experienced instructors from Squadrons in Herts & Bucks Wing travelled to North Wales on Friday night, and set up camp in the Ogwen Valley. Eight of them were CTE candidates who completed the ML (Summer) training course some years ago, and have subsequently been running cadet activities under 'the old rules', so the purpose of the weekend was to assess them and confirm whether they could continue to run activities on the basis of "competence through experience"
The weather had been dry, mild and settled during the days leading up to the weekend, and we erected our tents under a clear, starry sky, with the silhouette of Tryfan looming just down the valley. After an unexpectedly cold night we woke to a heavy frost, but crystal clear day, and the air was soon filled with the roar of stoves and the smell of coffee and breakfast
After breakfast we gathered for a briefing and laid out maps for a route planning session. We had a session on planning a group day and a discussion on personal and emergency equipment, then set off up the Braich y Ddeugwm (ridge) behind the campsite in two groups of six. The weather was good with cloudless skies and unlimited visibility: superb for walking, but not ideal for testing navigation skills! Nevertheless every group member had to demonstrate his map reading and timing skills throughout the walk, and the assessors took the opportunity to talk to everyone and get a feel for their experience and leadership style. We stopped for lunch at the Cantilever stone, at the top of the Bristly ridge. Normally seen dimly through thick mist or a blizzard rather then bright sunshine, everyone commented that the stone looked smaller than they remembered it!
Continuing along the ridge, we detoured onto Glyder Fach summit, and Castell y Gwynt (Castle of the Winds) and confirmed that everyone was comfortable scrambling over steep rocks. We took our time descending by the Gribin Ridge, with the walking ropes coming out to practice a number of techniques for securing group members on step ground. These ranged from preparing a Thompson Knot to lower a casualty, to short roping a nervous group member along an exposed path. The lower slopes of Tryfan provided opportunities to contour across rough ground to the Milestone Buttress as we returned to the campsite to cook dinner. Soon it was dark, and time for everyone's least favourite activity: night navigation! We parked in Capel Curig and walked North towards Crimpiau, and away from the warm, welcoming pubs. Every group member took turns to lead us to a small map feature - typically a spot height, ring contour or small lake, and we spent the next three hours stumbling across rough ground and through heather under a cold, black, starry sky. We managed to complete the exercise in time to enjoy a couple of rapid beers in the pub before returning to the campsite. This time we were better prepared for the cold night: after all alcohol is an anti-freeze!
On Sunday, everyone was asked to suggest a day's activities suitable for a hypothetical group of cadets. All the ideas were good, so we broke camp and opted for a walk from Capel Curig toward Moel Siabod. The disused quarry workings and ruined slate buildings were interesting, giving plenty of scope for the environment aspects of group leadership. This area proved ideal for more micro-navigation practice, to the confusion of some walkers who couldn't fathom why we were leaving the well-trodden track leading to the summit of Moel Siabod to follow contours, and pace our way across rough ground. After successfully tracking down a series of ring contours, hut circles and re-entrants we returned to the Capel Curig for a cup of tea before the drive home.
A short debrief confirmed that everyone was operating at a high enough standard for CTE, but emphasised the importance of getting out regularly to maintain currency, of working towards a proper ML assessment and of keeping that vital first aid qualification current
|Web site by: Flt Lt Geoff Bowles RAFVR(T), ML(S), SPA This page last updated on 28 October 2003|