Kirstie Macmillan - Mountain leader & Single Pitch Award holder


Kirstie Macmillan has been an MTA member since 2016 and is a qualified Mountain Leader and Single Pitch Award holder. Read more:
Kirstie Macmillan
MTA 200

Have you always been interested in the outdoors? And what inspired you to do a qualification with Mountain Training?

In my youth I enjoyed lots of different sports but the closest I got to an outdoor sport was actually indoor climbing! This changed through a school residential at the old Howtown OEC where I was given opportunities to explore the Lakeland environment through various activities, the most memorable being an ascent of Helvellyn, my first mountain! Opportunities at my local youth club allowed me to progress though the DofE Awards and trained to the BEL Award to deliver Bronze expedition training. We had an exceptionally good Mountain Leader train us and this inspired me to do the same. Time at university had me focus on paddlesport but I’m broadening my leadership skills into the mountain environment.

What awards do you hold? What awards are you working towards?

Recently, I have passed my Single Pitch Award assessment and I’m working towards my Mountain Leader assessment. (Since this interview, Kirstie has now passed her Mountain Leader assessment - congratulations Kirstie!)

What do you do for work?

I am currently a centre assistant at a residential Outdoor Education Centre in the South Lakes. This involves assisting instructors and delivering activities, receiving training towards a variety of qualifications and some housekeeping, gardening and general upkeep of the centre.
Kirstie on a route

How do you use (or plan to use) your qualifications?

I use my Single Pitch Award and Mountain Leader training at work, mostly with young people in our local area. Climbing and mountain days give the young people an amazing opportunity to challenge themselves, develop self-esteem and work as a dynamic team (to name a few benefits!).

What did you find most challenging and most enjoyable about working through your qualifications?

The most challenging aspect of the Mountain Training qualifications is the commitment to completing prerequisite time prior to training and assessment. There’s a lot of travelling involved around the UK to find the best mountain days and climbs however, this also gives you time in some stunning environments! I’ve met a lot of new friends whilst working through my Single Pitch Aeard and discovered a sport which challenges me and continues to provide some memorable moments!

What advice would you give to anyone going through their qualifications?

Walk and climb in as many places, with as many different people as possible! You’ll soon pick up tips, tricks and best practices (or worst!) as well as broaden your experience and knowledge. Variety is key!

At what stage in your outdoor journey did you join the MTA? What was your main reason for joining?

I joined the MTA to access workshops which will help me through my qualifications and give me refreshers before assessment.

What do you find most valuable about being a member?

Access to CPD and workshops, although the discounts in shops are handy too!
Kirstie winter skills

Have you been on a regional event or CPD workshop?

A month before my Single Pitch Award assessment I did a ‘Rope Tricks and Rescues’ course with the exceptionally enthusiastic (and often humorous) BMG Chris Ensoll. It was a fantastic day in sunny Langdale exploring a whole range of the SPA syllabus and beyond including abseil rescues, rigging, use of prussiks and group scenarios. I left the workshop knowing exactly what I needed to practice before my Single Pitch Award assessment and took away some handy hints and tips on preventing and resolving any trouble whilst doing personal climbing. Highly recommended! I also did the JCMT Scotland course last January. This course gave me the skills to enjoy the hills safely all year round!

Would you recommend the Association to others?

Yes – for access to CPD and workshops!

What are your leadership plans for the future?

I’d like to continue to broaden my outdoor skills and leadership after ML, possibly into caving and the highest canoe and kayak leadership awards. What I love is that all of the skills are interchangeable and relevant: I’ve done steep ground work in ML and 5* kayak training, rigging and mechanical advantages in white water safety and rescue and SPA, the list goes on…!

If you had a day to go for a walk or climb anywhere, where would it be and why?

First thoughts are Glen Etive, Glen Coe or the Cuillins. But, I always love going back to the place I learned to lead; Long Scar and Pike of Blisco. The crags of Long Scar and Black Crag have a high mountain feel yet are a quick walk up from the Wrynose pass and offer a huge variety of climbs on superb rhyolite; brilliant for confidence building! I’ve also climbed with groups here, sat on the summit on New Years Day, passed my SPA assessment and met so many lovely friends on long summer evenings as the sun sets over Bowfell. A special place.