Not that I knew it at the time; but my first taste of mountain walking was at the age of 9, up bristly ridge and over the Glyderau with my uncle who was a keen mountaineer and a member of Buxton mountain rescue. I remember having an amazing day out, but it was only last year that we found the photo's from that day and I discovered where I had been!
When we were 13 my friend and I joined the local cadets who seemed to only take us out into the hills when it was pouring with rain, carrying our massive orange force ten tents and wearing oversized army waterproofs . . . they weren't exactly comfortable expeditions but they were the best things we'd ever done!
Together we worked our way through the DofE syllabus, getting squashed by our massive rucksacks at Bronze, enjoying the wonderful Welsh terrain at silver, and expeditioning in some fantastic places for Gold. Our practice was an expedition around Loch Ness, and our qualifying was in Cyprus (which obviously needed plenty of acclimatisation time on the beach beforehand!)
Things quietened down whilst working my way through uni and getting qualified as a teacher, but I still spent plenty of time outdoors running the DofE expeditions for the cadets. The best week ever was spent trekking in the Pyrenees, also with cadets. A few years ago I decided to work towards MLS and started logging walks properly in 2013 when I was trying to get through the training course. That was a tough week, knee deep in snow for most of it! But it was so good I didn't want to go back to school the following day! I've since spent lots of time in the mountains; as well as doing things like getting qualified as a canoe coach, walking most of the Anglesey coastal path and setting up a DofE group in school.
I have known Branwen since she joined the army cadet force as an adult instructor over twelve years ago. Since then she has developed many of the skills and attributes required to be a mountain leader to a refined level through her involvement with the cadets leading activities such as Duke of Edinburgh and the National Navigation Award scheme. Branwen is very thoughtful and thorough when planning and conducting any activity and although she always operates within her capabilities she still manages to make the activity fun and stimulating whether it is navigation training or even coaching paddle sport. I am sure Branwen will make an excellent mountain leader and will be a good ambassador for mountain walking whilst continuing to develop her own experience and knowledge.