Lowland Leader vs Road Marching

Has anyone else noticed that Road Marching Team Leader and Lowland Leader allow you to run very similar activities but the disparity in the training is huge?

If I wanted to take some cadets walking in the local rural area I would either have to do LLA which takes a total of 20 QLDs and 2 weekends or it could be badged as road marching which means I would only have to do the one weekend to get qualified.

I fully understand the purpose of the walks is different but the resultant activity for the cadets would be pretty similar.

Before anyone says, I have neither award and am not looking to find a way around any rules, it’s just an observation.


Yes! I’d love to know others thoughts.

Every time I’ve asked this question I’ve been given non answer along the lines of “if it’s intended as a road march, it comes under road marching otherwise it’s a lowland walk”.

It does seem odd that there’s such a difference in the required qualifications for what could essentially be viewed as the same activity, especially when you consider that they could follow the same route - albeit formed up in uniform in one case verses a bimble in civvies.


You’ve peaked my interest! I didn’t know they had actually formalised the Roam Marching stuff now. Just found the ACRoMaTIs and am having a read now. I know a lot about the Mountain Training side, but nothing and the road marching side.
I’ll see if I can maybe make any comparisons once I’ve had a read. @redowling may know more, he seems to be the go to AT guy!..

There is literally nothing in all 83 pages that goes into any detail in what the RMTL course actually covers? It says in a lot of places that you need to have done the RMTL course and for more information to go to ACRoMaTI 004. However ACRoMaTI 004 goes into no detail at all on what the course covers.

My initial assumption was that with RM you can’t stray too far away from the road… It’s kind of in the name and that, I thought, was maybe the difference. But looking at the kind of terrain they talk about I can’t see a difference between the RM and LLA terrain.
However the example route they give between RAFC and Beckingham Camp is a road only route. I could imagine maybe the RMTL qual is fine if you are on a road, but if you go off road at all then you need a LLA? :man_shrugging:t2:

I’m very much guessing but if you can take cadets walking out on footpaths with just a RMTL RAFAC qual then that to me seems like a break in the SST as that person is not safe according to the AT books.

Edit to add a link to the document I’ve referred to.

The key difference has always been that road marching doesn’t fall within the definition of ‘trekking’ as you’re never more than 5km away from a road. Presumably that gives some leeway due to emergency vehicle access?

A similar ridiculousness comparison is doable between overnight camping under AT and bivvying under FT.

And yet, I’ve road marched along cycle paths. Is a cycle path a road, if you can’t get an ambulance down it?

But was the path 5km away from any other road?

but with LLA don’t you have to consider your escape points anyway? Therefore you’re not going to be a million miles from a road. Also as far as I’m aware you are allowed on footpaths under road marching. :man_shrugging:t2:

Yes, of course you are. But not more than 5km from a road, lest you stray into AT remit.

although i get they are both “a walk outside” the training aims are completely different.

one is intended to cover a distance, typically in a good time

the other, in the RAFAC eyes at least, typically covers map reading, navigation or some form or orienteering (getting from point A to B)

you could apply the sane differences between a GS sotie and a GIC both are flights in a glider, but have different outcomes. The GIC is an experience without/very little teaching element – the P1 pilot only needs to be signed off to fly with passengers.

The GS is dedicated training and the pilot needs to be signed off as a pilot and instructor.

In RM there is nothing that is “taught”, the skills and talent come from practise of walking rather than from taught elements, learning and then application.

I would also say that RM is a lead activity by the CFAV, the “skills” passed on to the Cadets don’t cover ideal routes, the ins and outs of what makes a good route, route navigation or the risks involved.

Although AT Trekking is CFAV lead, the intention is to share the CFAVs knowledge, experience and skills and pass them on, teaching the student how to map read, find a bearing, design a suitable route, consider the terrain and understand the potential risks, covering basic time and distance calculations (understanding 3km/h = 1 box on the map) and how that changes with conditions.

When considering this:

The teaching/learning is very similar, how to pitch the tent/bivvy and the experience again much the same, sleeping. The learning outcome for both is the same “build your accommodation and sleep in it” yet the disparity between the authorisation to do one over the other is vast.

Yes I get that on the face of it RM and AT trekking are both “going for a walk” but the same is true between GS and GIC/AEF (going for a flight) but basic outcomes are slightly different.

RM = achieving a distance in a target time, on the roads

Trekking = developing navigation skills to allow the student to take part in the activity independently.


Agree with @steve679 here. The clue is in the name: Road Marching. That is, marching, on roads.

Not marching on off-road footpaths, cycle paths, bridleways or any other variation. The outcomes and aims of the activity are indeed different - I would expect that a ‘Road Marching’ route should be, in the majority, on roads. Any use of footpaths should be limited to short transits between roads and/or to avoid a significant hazard (e.g. using a canal towpath to avoid a bit of pathless A-road for example).

Lowland Leader has a much wider syllabus because it is, fundamentally, a ‘professional’ qualification - i.e. you could take it outside the organisation and get paid work using it. When we are delivering traditional outdoor activities, we will always be judged against outdoor industry standards - hence the requirement for professional qualifications. Whereas there is no real industry for road marching - so an in-house, specialist qualification makes more sense because we can say that we trained our staff.

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I do disagree with this bit. There are differences. Expeditions in a trekking context are different to a fieldcraft exercise.

There is much more scope for variation in equipment - stoves, tents, sleeping systems - and the leader needs to understand the various pros and cons of these, and how to use them safely and appropriately. in a fieldcraft environment it’s all pretty similar - you are limited to a single stove choice, a single shelter choice, meals come in a bag…

The expedition skills module looks at a much wider scope. Food & nutrition is not limited to boiling a silver bag, for example. The module covers stuff outside of just tents as well - public and wild campsites, bunkhouses and bothies, training of groups to operate independently and remote supervision of expedition groups.

There are some interesting points here, especially around intent but I’m still not sure I’m clear on the difference in practical terms. Maybe I’m missing something, but to me it seems like the Venn digram of a road march vs a lowland walk has a very large middle section, especially for a route with 50/50 on and off road, never more than 5km from a road.

The actual, on the ground, practical differences, as I see it, are uniform/civvies, formed up/not, and with a lowland walk there may be some element of teaching/self navigation verses a road march that is CFAV led.

On the original point, those few differences, to me, seem at odds with the rather larger difference in the requirements of their respective required qualifications.

For clarity I’m not being critical of either qualification or activity - I’m just intrigued about their difference.

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Yes the Quals was more the point I was originally making. I think we all know the aims are different etc etc its the disparity in the quals i was interested to hear people’s views on.

I think this is the key, as @redowling highlighted - a Road March should be primarily on roads.

Although it should be on roads is that practically a common occurrence?

I know from my limited exposure to road marching in my area all of our training takes place on cycle ways and local footpaths. Only time they actually march on a road is for the qualifying marches.

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I wouldn’t say that anyone should be trying to draw parity between the “qualifications”.

Lowland Leader is an actual NGB qualification which prepares you to lead a team in lowland terrain. That’s quite a varied scope and you need fairly broad knowledge and skills in areas such as navigation, met, first aid, team management, &c to prepare you to be the lone person in charge of a team somewhere a few km off road.

Road marching is a limited activity, and the team leaders course is less involved because it doesn’t require the same broad range of skills.
The whole point of road marching is that you are on a road. You will never find yourself 3km up a hill somewhere, in a field, with a casualty and freezing rain; working out how the hell you’re going to get this person with a broken hip to the ambulance.

Some of the skills developed in the LLA will be applicable in road marching, but it doesn’t really work the other way around. You’re not going to learn much on the RMTL course which would help you on a lowland walk.
Being a good lowland leader is also not enough to be a good road marcher.
Leading a team pounding tarmac for 12 hours on active roads requires a different and fairly constant alertness which isn’t required in most lowland walking. It also requires positive interaction to maintain morale.

Road marching is primarily a stamina activity. Probably 90% mental and 10% physical.
I’ve seen plenty of experienced hill and mountain people who really can’t cope with road marching.
It’s harder on your feet and it’s harder on your morale.

Two different beasts with two different requirements for team leaders.
It’s a bit like comparing kayaking on a fast river with taking a 30’ motor launch into the inshore traffic zone.


Don’t know to be honest - I’d definitely be questioning a road marching activity that was mostly on footpaths.

This is why it was split from AT though - as the road marchers didn’t want to be required to get an AT qualification to run road marches. That’s fine - but it then restricts you to doing what it says on the tin - marching on roads.

The difference between the qualifications is down to scope. The scope of trekking and expeditions is much wider in terms of what you can do and where you can go - the road marching scope is much narrower.

The breadth of scope requires a greater amount of personal experience to draw on to manage the activity safely at the upper end of the scope, hence the difference in requirements.


Do you not need this for RMTL as well though? We’ve already established you can use footpaths in Road Marching so you could skill end up 1km down a footpath working out how to extract the broken hip person. Also you’re surely going to want first aid knowledge, or to have a first aider with you, and you’re going to want to have checked the met for the day.

p.s. What type of imangineering would you specialise in? :smiley:

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Not in the same way or to the same degree.

When road marching one really shouldn’t be 1km down a public footpath - because that’s not road marching. It’s somewhat outside the remit and it’s not really training for the right environment.
Road marching should be on tarmac/concrete. Nobody gains the skills and the physical stamina needed for Nijmegen by taking a comfy walk in the countryside.

Checking the weather forecast and seeing “rain” for road marching means “Right. Better makes sure we’ve got waterproofs and crack on… Also need to consider reduced visibility and stopping distance for traffic.”
Being out in the middle of nowhere requires a more in depth knowledge of weather and a different backup plan.

Navigation for LLA is crucial. Navigation for road marching is “can you follow this AA road map?”

First aid certainly is applicable to both, and is a requirement for us of course anyway.

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