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Night navigation courses

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.

Autumn 2023 Dates TBC

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 (hot) drink, boots, gaiters, waterproof jacket and over trousers, warm hat, and gloves.

 A good headtorch (minimum 200 lumens) 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.  Please also bring a map (Harvey Maps or Ordnance Survey Sheet) of the relevant area if you have it, and a Compass (Silva Type 4 or similar).  Maps, map cases and compasses can be provided for the course, if you do not have them.

The course fee does NOT cover kit or accommodation. 

  • 2023 Dates TBC

  • 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 if required.

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 


  • £TBC for members
  • £TBC for non-members (non-member cost includes one year's membership of Mountaineering Scotland with all the member benefits).

To book our mountain safety courses, you must be at least 18 years old. Members aged between 14 and 18 can attend a course if accompanied by a parent or nominated adult – please email us to find out more and book this. Thanks to your membership, we can subsidise the costs of our courses and keep them affordable for all members.

Please note:

  • Pre-booking is essential
  • If you cancel a course less than 4 weeks before a course date, we are unable to offer a refund or transfer unless we can find a replacement to take your place.
  • Cancellations more than 4 weeks before the course date will incur a £10 admin fee per booking to cover admin costs.
  • By booking a place on one of our courses, you are agreeing to our booking and cancellation conditions - please read them before you book.

  • Use the links above to access the booking for individual courses on our members portal.
  • Mountaineering Scotland members - book online in the members’ web portal using your existing member profile.
  • If you are not already a Mountaineering Scotland member, your membership will be processed after your booking when you choose the non-member ticket or you can add a membership to your basket and pay for that and your course place at the same time.

This course is kindly supported by The Munro Society