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Mountaineering Scotland 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 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

Low level navigation

Hill navigation

Mountain navigation


This year we are offering three levels of navigation course, so you can choose the right course for your interest and physical ability.

Low level navigation. (Fitness grade 1.) This is an entry level course delivered primarily in woodland close to Drymen. It is suitable for people who are new to walking and would prefer a more relaxed approach. This course will be delivered 'on track', involving a maximum distance of 8km and maximum ascent of 200m.

Hill navigation. (Fitness grade 2.)  This course is for people who enjoy days out on the hill, but would prefer to train on terrain that is not too physically demanding. The courses are run in the Ochils, Campsies and Pentland Hills. At times the course will be off track on the open hillside. Maximum distance 12km and maximum ascent 600m.

Mountain Navigation. (Fitness grade 3.) These navigation courses are delivered in the Arrochar Alps and are aimed at our members who regularly ascend  Munros (or equivalent).  Your day's training will involve an ascent of one of the numerous Munros or Corbetts in the Arrochar Alps. Expect to be off track, on potentially steep/rough terrain. Maximum distance 14km and maximum ascent c900m.


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 hill/mountain navigation course?  Yes, if you sign up for the 'two boot' or 'three boot'' course.  All the courses start with an indoor session, but will then be outside for approximately six hours. It will depend on the location you choose, how much height is gained and distance covered.

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 five hours, covering 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.

Sat 27th April     Hill navigation                Pentland Hills

Sun 28th April    Hill navigation                Pentland Hills

Sat 11th May      Mountain navigation     Arrochar Alps

Sun 12th May     Mountain navigation     Arrochar Alps

Sat 29th June      Low Level navigation     Drymen

Sun 30th June    Hill navigation                  Campsie Fells

Sat 13th July       Hill navigation                 Ochils

Sun 14th July      Hill navigation                 Ochils

Sat 14th Sept      Hill navigation                 Campsie Fells

Sat 15th Sept      Hill navigation                 Campsie Fells

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 membersí 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