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Mountaineering Scotland: night navigation courses 2021

Navigation is an essential skill for anyone who intends going into the Scottish hills and mountains. At any time of year low cloud can mean poor visibility, making navigation more challenging. By heading out into the darkness we can practice the techniques required to deal with these conditions and learn to confidently navigate off the hill if caught out by short daylight hours over the winter.

Due to the ever-changing COVID situation, bookings are currently open for courses until the end of June 2021. 

Booking for courses in July and August will open in early May - please check this page and our social media channels for updates.

Night navigation in the Cairngorms. Photo by Johannes Petersen.

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 Campsie and Pentland Hills. At times the course will be off track on the open hillside. Maximum distance 8km and maximum ascent 500m.

Five hours of intensive training in techniques for navigating in poor visibility and darkness. This course is designed to build on your foundation of daylight navigation skills giving you strategies to cope with navigating in bad weather and to be able to safely navigate off the hill safely in the event of being caught out by short daylight hours.

Techniques will include timing, pacing, walking on bearings, aiming off, attack points and more.

The majority of the time on the hill we will be in complete darkness. Instructor ratios are 1:6 and there are spaces for 12 people per course.

What will you get from attending the course?

  • Improve your ability to recognise contour shapes and features.
  • Accurately follow compass bearings and measure your distance across the ground.
  • Learn new techniques to help you relocate and confirm your position.
  • What to do if you get lost.

You will need to be equipped for an evening 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. A good headtorch with fresh batteries as well as a spare are essential. We will not be moving quickly so bring lots of warm kit appropriate for the conditions.

The course fee does NOT cover kit or accommodation.

  • This course is specifically designed to practice navigation techniques after dark and we will finish at around 10.30pm.
  • All course participants MUST have completed a daytime navigation course either with Mountaineering Scotland or another provider prior to attending this course, or have substantial experience of daylight navigation and be practised with the use of map and compass.
  • Course participants need to provide all their own personal equipment except for maps, map cases and compasses which will be provided.

Yes.  We will be on the hill for approximately five hours, covering approximately 8km and 500 metres of ascent. You should be fit and experienced enough to manage yourself for five hours on the hill in all conditions.

If you have any questions about your suitability for this course please email ben@mountaineering.scot or call Ben on 01479 861241.

Mon 25th October 2021  Night navigation Campsie Fells
Tue 26th October 2021
Night navigation Campsie Fells
Wed 27th  October 2021
Night navigation Campsie Fells
Mon 1st November 2021
Night navigation Pentland Hills
Tue 2nd November 2021
Night navigation Pentland Hills
Wed 3rd November 2021
Night navigation Pentland Hills

To book 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 – please 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 £60 for non-members (non-member cost includes one year's membership of Mountaineering Scotland with all the member benefits)

Please note:

  • Pre-booking is essential
  • For cancellations less than 6 weeks before a course date, no refund will be given. 
  • Cancellations more than 6 weeks before will incur a £10 admin fee to cover processing costs.
  • Please read our course information for booking and cancellation conditions

  • 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.

Due to the ever-changing COVID situation, bookings are currently opening approximately 4-6 weeks in advance of the course date. Please check this page and our social media channels for updates.

Priority will be given to those who had their course cancelled due to Covid in 2020.

This course is kindly supported by The Munro Society - www.munrosociety.com