QMD Challenge

QMD Challenge

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Welcome to 2021’s challenge!

To find out more about the background to the QMD challenge*, start by reading this article.

I keep a rolling list of mountain walks I’d like to do, all of which are inspired by the requirements of a Quality Mountain Day. With one eye on boosting my QMD total as I work through the Mountain Leader qualification, and the other on simply enjoying some spectacular days out in the hills, this challenge is my most exciting to date.

Rules of the Game

As with my previous annual challenges, I’ll post regular accounts of my walks in the Adventures section of the blog. You can also track my progress below. The main difference is each walk will remain a mystery until I’ve done it. With the first quarter of 2021 spent under lockdown, I’ve had chance to plan some crackers, including exciting routes in the Lake District, Snowdonia and the Galloway Hills

I hope the additional flexibility afforded by this year’s challenge will allow me to navigate safely around the as yet unknown restrictions that may be placed on our travels this year. Let’s hope this vaccine kicks in soon and allows us to get back into the hills again.


1. The Swindale Fells
Selside Pike, Branstree, Tarn Crag, Grey Crag

Mountainous Area: Lake District

Distance: 20.5km

Total Ascent: 872m

Start/Finish: Swindale

Completed: Yes


2. The Deepdale Round
Hartsop above How, Hart Crag, Fairfield, Cofa Pike, St Sunday Crag, Birks, Arnison Crag

Mountainous Area: Lake District

Distance: 16.3km

Total Ascent: 1140m

Start/Finish: Cow Bridge, Brothers’ Water

Completed: Yes


3 & 4. Northern Fells Expedition
Carrock Fell, High Pike, Knott, Great Calva, Bowscale Fell, Bannerdale Crags, Blencathra, Souther Fell

Mountainous Area: Lake District

Distance: 32.8km (over 2 days)

Total Ascent: 1755m (over 2 days)

Start/Finish: Mosedale, Bowscale or Mungrisdale

Completed: Yes


5. The Northern Carneddau and Aber Falls
Drosgl, Carnedd Gwenllian, Foel-fras, Drum

Mountainous Area: Snowdonia

Distance: 20.7km

Total Ascent: 1066m

Start/Finish: Abergwyngregyn

Completed: Yes


*Quick disclaimer – despite the apparently clear guidance from Mountain Training, nothing sparks a discussion among mountain leader trainees like the question of what constitutes a Quality Mountain Day. It’s up to you to determine whether your mountain walks qualify.

If you are thinking about becoming a Mountain Leader, please don’t blindly copy these walks as a definitive list of QMDs. I may or may not end up recording these as QMDs and it won’t get you very far. The challenge described on this page is more about using the criteria for QMDs as a guide for anyone wanting to enjoy regular, first-class walks in the hills.

There are no shortcuts to becoming an effective mountain leader, and merely jumping through the hoops won’t be enough to help you develop and mature over time.

Lecture over, get out there and use it as an excuse to enjoy many more adventures…

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