This Girl Can

Stacey using various confidence rope techniques to safely navigate steep rocky terrain

Blackdog Outdoors’ very own Stacey Roberts recently embarked on her Mountain Leader Award training expedition with Roxcool training. Catch up with her below and find out what the 6 days of training were like as she tackled some pretty wet and challenging conditions.

As a member of the Blackdog Outdoors MH focus group and one of our qualified Mental Health First Aiders, Stacey has a been a key member of the team since our inception in 2018. You can’t miss her infectious personality when attending our events and her generosity and dedication to our activities have been huge. We know she will a make fantastic Blackdog Outdoors Event Leader once her training is complete.

I fell in love with the outdoors a couple of years ago, and since April 2018 have spent most of my free time either out in the fells bagging Wainwrights (178 bagged out of 214) or strolling around a lake. Thinking about how good being outdoors makes me feel and the volunteer work I do for Blackdog Outdoors inspired me to sign up for the Mountain Leader Training. I want to be able to help out as much as I can – being an ML and living on the edge of the Lake District means I could help out by leading some of the Blackdog events in my local area.

I had mixed emotions in the lead up to the training, I was both really excited but extremely nervous. I didn’t want to let the team down, and what if I couldn’t do it? The awful weather in the lead-up to my course didn’t help, we had nothing but wind and rain for weeks. And the thought of wild camping in those conditions terrified me.

Thursday night's wild camp, lakeside
Thursday night’s wild camp, lakeside

Thankfully the part of the training which made me the most anxious ended up being the best part. After 3 days of torrential rain, wind and even hail at times the weather changed for the better. This meant that I had the mildest and most clear night for my wild camp and night navigation. Making our way around the neighbouring fells and seeing the cloud inversions below was so satisfying. Then making it back and sitting in the doorway of my tent looking at the moon and stars in total silence was just peace itself.

View from Stacey's tent on her overnight expedition
View from Stacey’s tent on her overnight expedition

However there were a few parts of the training that put me out of my comfort zone due to my lack of experience. The ropework was one of them. Other than the occasional indoor/outdoors climbing session I haven’t had to manage a rope, especially a confidence rope. My only thoughts being how can I make someone feel confident when I’m not?! Thankfully I managed to pick it up and felt more at ease due to Cliff’s persistence and reassurance.

Stacey tackling her fear of ropework
Stacey tackling her fear of ropework

After completing the 6 days of training I felt quite proud of myself for getting through it and happy that I’d learnt a lot.

I’m now looking forward to practicing my skills with some quality mountain days and also getting my tent out for some more wild camping. Hopefully next year I will complete my assessment and become a qualified ML!

The training was lead by Cliff Lowther, who coincidentally, had trained Stacey before:

So 17 years ago Stacey was a young student studying a BTEC course of which I was a tutor. As part of that course I taught Stacey on an Expeditions Unit. It’s a proud moment for me to now be teaching her again, this time on a Mountain Leader course here in the beautiful but very wet Lake District“.

Stacey being photobombed by Cliff
Stacey and Cliff

Stacey’s qualification was subsidised in part by Blackdog Outdoors’ staff training scheme. This helps our core event supporters and assistants develop new skills and receive access to training for nationally recognised leadership qualifications in both physical and mental health leadership and development. We couldn’t be happier to have Stacey at the forefront of our staff development scheme.

L - trainees ascend rocky terrain
R - Stacey gets her bearings with some mapwork
L – trainees ascend rocky terrain
R – Stacey gets her bearings with some mapwork

We’re now working on delivering our sessions across the UK which requires us to take on new instructors and volunteers. If you work in the outdoor industry and feel like you could make a difference with Blackdog Outdoors, contact our Operations Manager.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *