Our website uses cookies throughout our system and to help us provide a better service. Continue to use the site as normal if you're happy with this, or click here to change your settings

Mountaineering Scotland mountain navigation courses

Navigation is an essential skill for anyone who intends going into the Scottish hills and mountains. Every year Mountaineering Scotland runs a number of one-day mountain navigation courses which can set you on the way to becoming an accomplished navigator able to find your way around the hills with confidence, even in poor visibility.

Learning to navigate in the hills above Loch Lomond. Photo by Neil Reid

Course fitness rating

Grading depends on course chosen: Mountain navigation or low level option.

The mountain navigation courses (two boots) are for people who regular climb hills/mountains. These courses are delivered on the mountain, sometimes ‘off-track’ on rough terrain. Max distance 12km, max ascent 600m

The low level navigation (one boot) is an entry level course, suitable for people new to hill walking or those who are returning to the hills after a break. Max distance 8km on track, max ascent 200m

A one-day Mountaineering Scotland navigation course will give you a firm grounding in practical mountain navigation skills.  Instructor ratios are 1:6 and there are spaces for 12 people per course. The courses aim to introduce or refresh essential navigation skills.

  • Increase your confidence in finding your way on the hill
  • Learn the skills of map reading and compass bearings
  • Learn how to follow a bearing accurately
  • Pick up handy hints and techniques to locate yourself on the hill in poor visibility

You will need to be equipped for a day out on the hill with food and drink, boots, gaiters, waterproof jacket and over trousers, warm hat and gloves. Maps, map cases and compasses will be provided. 

Do you need to be hill fit to do a mountain navigation course?  Yes, if you sign up for the 'two boot' course.  The course starts with an indoor session, but will then be out on the hill for approx. 6 hours. It will depend on the location you choose, how much height is gained. An average day on one of our courses will ascend for 600m and cover a distance of 6 - 8 km. In addition, for the purposes of quality/relevant training, the courses will be delivered on sometimes rough/trackless ground.

Low level option. (One boot course) For those of you who would prefer a more mellow option and a less physically demanding day, we offer a low level option. The low level navigation course will be outside for 5 hours, cover a distance of around 6 - 8 km with ascent of a maximum of 200m. The majority of the day will be on footpaths, but we may venture off path to practice walking on a bearing.

All the 2018 courses have now taken place.  A total of 172 members attended the navigation courses this year. 

Details of dates/locations for next years courses will be posted here later in the year.

To book onto one of our mountain safety courses, you need to be a member of Mountaineering Scotland and at least 18 years old. Members aged between 14 and 18 can attend a course if accompanied by a parent or nominated adult: phone the office at 01738 493943 to find out more and book this. Thanks to your membership, we can subsidise the costs of our courses and offer you cheaper course prices than most commercial providers.

Cost is £35 for members, and £45 for non-members (includes one year's membership of Mountaineering Scotland)

Pre-booking is essential

  • Mountaineering Scotland members can book and pay easily and quickly online in our members’ web portal.
  • If you are not a Mountaineering Scotland member, you can join and book your course place at the same time quickly and easily online in our members web portal

Please take a look at our useful course information for booking and cancellation conditions.

Previous participants said:

  • We had an amazing day and left feeling that we are now much more confident in navigating the hills. You were so patient and encouraging throughout and all of the little tips/teaching points were very easy to follow and remember.
  • Excellent professionalism, knowledge and portrayal of instruction combined with Heather's patience and the understanding of individual's needs made for a most enjoyable and rewarding day.
  • Heather and Donald ran a great course. Clear instructions in class, excellent guidance on the hill. Really enjoyed it and have gained some valuable skills.
  • Have already recommended you to friends and will continue to do so.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the course, the other people on the course and especially Heather who was a terrific instructor.
  • A really useful and enjoyable course with lots of little tips and practical examples that really made a difference. Heather's approach was very good