Sahedul Islam - Lowland Leader


Sahedul Islam

What do you do for work?

I currently work as a Programme Officer for an International NGO in London. This involves managing a development programme in Cambodia and Indonesia. My background is in humanitarian aid – I’ve worked in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mali and most recently the Turkey/Syria border.

Have you always been active in the outdoors?

Until 5/6 years ago I was not active at all. Growing up in the heart of London and on a council estate I spent most of my time at home or in the local park. I never left my postcode, let alone London. It was only after doing some volunteering work aboard in Tanzania that my appetite for the outdoors really grew, and since then, I haven’t looked back. Last year has been spent exploring as much of the UK as possible.

Are you involved with any other sports/outdoor activities?

I’m a keen cyclist – living in London it makes sense! Last year I took up bouldering, which I love. I’m not very good yet but getting there. I am also interested in martial arts – I’ve trained in Tae Kwon Do for a number of years.

Walking across Epping Fields

Where’s your favourite place to walk?

I have to say two places (I can’t decide!) 1) Epping Forest – it’s just so easily accessible. 30 minutes on the Central line and I’m walking in forestry. 2) South Down Way/Seven Sister – The terrain, the English Channel, the cliffs, it’s so different from the usual walks I do.

Why did you want to be a Lowland Leader?

I genuinely believe in life you should do what makes you happy. Walking and exploring is my passion, and it’s what I want to do. I would love to be a full-on, full-time Mountain Leader. And so the Lowland Leader scheme is the first step on this path.

What do you want to do with the qualification?

I would like to lead as many groups as I can. Since qualifying a few weeks ago, I have already led 2 groups from East London.

Seven Sister Cliff

What were the best and most challenging things about the scheme?

Best: Being relatively new to the outdoor walking scene, it has to be the skills, knowledge and most importantly the confidence you build through the training and the assessment. I am a pretty nervous person in general, but since finishing the scheme, I feel really confident in my ability to lead.

Challenging: Would be trying to get as many quality walking days in as possible. It’s not been easy for me to find the time or the money to complete the required walks. But, to be fair that was more due to the fact I did both the training and assessment within a few months of each other.

What advice would you give to anyone else considering the scheme?

If you walk outside, have used a few trails and maps – you’re already 50% there. The scheme will structure those experiences and better help you understand the priorities and standards needed when leading groups. After the training, use those skills and you will most definitely pass once the assessment comes round.

What adventures have you got planned for the future?

Inspired by Levison Wood, I plan to “Walk the UK”. There are 16 national trails; I’ve done two so far and hope to do the remaining 14. This summer I’m planning the complete the Thames Path, The Ridgeway and Cotswold way (if I can save enough annual leave that is).

I’ve set up a Facebook Page and Instagram account recently if you’re interested in following my journey, please check them out;

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Sahedul with his mum in Hastings