01690 720214

Discover Navigation

Course Overview

Let our instructors take you through every aspect of basic navigation from symbols, scales and grid references to ground shape, measuring distance, taking bearings and using a compass. The perfect course to equip you with the basic skills to explore the mountains with confidence.

Experience Required

none required.

Scheduled Dates

Detailed Course Notes

You should be 18 years old to attend this course.

Who's it for?

You are welcome to come on this weekend with no experience at all. It is aimed at anyone who would like to learn how to navigate in the hills and mountains of the UK. At the end we hope you will have the confidence to use your new found skills to explore the wilder upland areas of the UK. As we will be out on the hill all day, a reasonable level of fitness is required.

Course Content

We start with the basics, and introduce the use of map and compass away from marked paths. Each day we will go out onto the hill, and learn in a practical way. This will be backed up by an evening session in the classroom. We intend to introduce at the following areas:

  • Orientation of the map

  • Map symbols

  • Scales

  • Ground shape and contours

  • Measuring distances

  • Taking bearings

  • Calculating how long a particular walk will take

Bad weather is ideal for learning to navigate! The course will adapt according to the prevailing conditions to make the best of the weather be it good or bad.

Useful Books

  • Hillwalking by Steve Long (MTUK Official Publication)
  • Best Walks in North Wales by Richard Sale
  • Nature of Snowdonia by Mike Raine
  • Navigation in the Mountains by Carlo Forte (MTUK Official Publication)

What's Included In The Price?

Whether you choose to stay with us or you have alternative accommodation nearby, the following items are included in the total cost.

    Free tea, coffee or selected hot drinks for the duration of your visit
    Afternoon tea & homemade cakes
    Equipment hire
    Free (low-speed) wifi access in the bar & dining room
    In course transport
    Railway station pick up & drop off (please call to arrange)
    Parking with CCTV surveillance
    Free use of climbing wall, gym, MTB skills course & rolling pool

    If you choose to stay with us, these items are also included in the total cost:

    Accommodation the night before your course
    Accommodation during your course
    Breakfast & evening meal
    Bar Lunch/packed lunch

Accommodation For This Course

Plas y Brenin Main House

Your course is based at Plas y Brenin, The National Mountain Sports Centre in Capel Curig, North Wales, LL24 0ET.

If you are staying with us,

If you have chosen to add accommodation onto this course or holiday it is usually in the main house in a comfy en-suite room (normally shared with another guest). Each room has tea and coffee making facilities and all bed linen and towels are provided.

This includes accommodation the night before your first day. Your room will be available from 6pm. On your last day you will need to vacate your room by 10am. It is sometimes possible to arrange to stay an extra night please phone 01690 720214 for availability and cost.

Secure storage facilities, showers and toilets are available for you to use on your departure day once you have checked out of your room should you need them, please ask at reception.

Also included, if you chosen to add accommodation, are all your meals - breakfast, packed lunch, afternoon tea and freshly baked cakes and a three course evening meal. Please bear in mind an evening meal is not provided on the night before your course or on the last day of your course but our bar will be serving meals from 7.00pm until 8.45pm.

If you are are not staying with us but coming in each day,

If you choose to come in daily for your course or holiday you will need to arrive ready for a 9am welcome talk on the first day. For the rest of your course or holiday you will need to be here for 9.15am. We return from a full day of activity, usually in time for tea and cakes at 5pm (included).

There are more activities from 5.30 - 6.30 on some days of your course or holiday, please check on the first day.

For most of our awards and qualification courses there will be further evening sessions on some days which you need to attend, please check on the first day.

There is an 8pm adventure talk by one of our coaches on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday evenings which you are welcome to come to. Find out more about the upcoming talks here.

On the final day you will be finished by 5pm.

For courses based on-site our bar will be serving lunches from 12pm until 2pm or you are welcome to bring a packed lunch.

If your course is based away from the centre then you will need to bring a packed lunch with you. Each evening our bar serves evening meals from 7pm until 8.45pm if you wish to eat here.

You can arrange to have any of the following meals - breakfast, packed lunch and a three course centre dinner, by contacting our customer services team on 01690 720214 or

follow this link for more details

What Equipment Do You Need To Bring?

  • Warm outdoor wear - at all times of year e.g. walking trousers (shorts in summer), thermal layers/base layers, fleeces, good quality walking socks

  • Warm hat, gloves, neck gaiter/buff, sun hat

  • Walking boots

  • Day rucksack (min 30 litres)

  • Rucksack liner (e.g. rubble bag or dry bag)

  • Drinks bottle

  • Flask

  • Lunch Bag/Box

  • Personal first aid kit

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers

  • Head torch (winter months)

  • High factor sunscreen

  • Midge repellant (summer months)

  • Notebook and pen

  • Compass (Silva Expedition 4 recommended)

  • Maps - OS 17 Snowdon & Conwy Valley 1:25,000 (and OS 115 Snowdon 1:50,000 for navigation courses).Laminated maps are great as you don't need a map case and you can make notes, mark point etc. (Can be purchased from our shop)

  • Fine permanent pen (for writing on laminated maps)

The following items are available for you to borrow from our equipment stores so you don't need to rush out to buy them.

  • Walking boots

  • Day rucksack

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers

  • Compass

Customer Reviews For This Course

Discover Navigation

Inderjit Oberoi

I found the course informative and thoroughly recommend it to walkers for navigation. My leader Steve was helpful and interacted well with the group and acknowledge our different levels of ability.

Great fun, learnt loads


This is a great course to teach you all those very basics of navigation, as well as some advanced tricks too. It was all taught 'out in the field' to get the most practical experience - really great and lovely to get outside in beautiful Snowdonia! Kris really knew his stuff and was patient and super helpful.

Ideal introduction

David H

Two days with a wonderful combination of conditions - sunny and warm on day one, drizzly and poor visibility on day two. But, thanks to the tutor, none of us were fazed by day two, and we diverted over a misty mountain, led only by our new-won skills, and reached base safely with a real sense of achievement. I'd like to go again, after i've used my new tricks a few more times. The tutor was very good, gently giving us just enough push and pull to keep us moving on and improving.

Exceeded my expectations

Claire Linier

The whole experience exceeded my expectations. The facilities are good. The food very nice.
The course is well designed with plenty of opportunities to practice the skills learnt and gain confidence. Being outdoor all day is a bonus. Our tutor Matt was friendly and keen to share his knowlege with us. Everything was perfect.

Fabulous Weekend

Gerard Hickey

The course on basic navigation was exactly what I required. Neils the instructor was obviously very proficient in his subject knowledge but his ability to transmit that knowledge to the group was excellent. Would unreservedly recommend the course to someone who is looking to get a grip on the basics of navigating in the mountains. 5* weekend!

Useful Course

Ray Hollis

I have been hillwalking for many years but have always been content to be lead .I therefore thought it was time to learn to do it for myself and to gain the confidence to go out into the hills alone or to take the lead .
The course is very pratical with most of the time spent on the hills doing rather than being classroom lead .
Martin the instructor had an excellent way of getting you to understand the skills needed to be able to use the Map and plan a trip .
At the end of the weekend I felt I had gained important skills and importantly confidence to have a go .
This was my first PYB course and I have been very impressed by the general organisation ,the facilities and the instruction .What also made the two days so enjoyable was Martin's local knowledge .
I would recommend the course to anybody who wants to build their confidence in taking to the hills .The course will be helpful to those with little or no map reading skills or those like myself who know the basics but wanted to learn some key skills like taking bearings .
I am already beginning to think what to book onto next .

Great course!!!

Martin Dyson

Very well put together course with the added bonus of the stunning views of the snowdonia mountain range.
Course Director, Olly was absolutely superb! Couldn't of asked for a better guy to show our group the ins & outs of the art of Navigation.
Myself walked away from the centre after the 2days feeling satisfied with what I'd accomplish.
Worth every penny! ✌️

Great place and experience gained from course

John Smith

Enjoyed the course and the location is beautiful and the course instructor Neils was just brilliant and very knowlegeable.
Only negatives found were:

1. The TV in the room on Freeview kept losing signal intermittently whilst making 'popping noises' which was annoying.
2. The packed lunch you help yourself too to take on the activity does not include a bottle of water and should do.
3. The check-out times (10am) are not appropiate on the last day as there is still a full day of activity to complete. The morning is busy enough getting in breakfast before the activity but then you also have to clear your room out. Ideally you should be able to check-out after the course even if it is in the evening. I know there are staff shower rooms avaible that you can use after the course but it is the fact you have to vacate all your personal belongings in the morning when you are busy as it is.
4. It would also be nice to have an evening meal too on the last day as the courses can be quite demanding after a full day and to start the long journey back home so it would be nice along with the tea and cake that is already offered!
5. The store room could do with more exterior clothing and sizes for extreme weather conditions which may be required for the course.
6. Lastly, the course Discover Naviagtion was educationally enjoyable and using maps and navigating with a compass but I must stress that it is not as described and is quite demanding as you are going up steep and sometimes trecherous hills which the course does not mention so this should be clearly mentioned.

Discover Navigation

Diana Gray

This was one of the best weekends I had for a long time. The instructors were very good in explaining how to read a map and use a compass. I must admit, I didn't expect to be so exhausted after the two day course, but there was not only a lot of walking, there was also a lot of thinking involved. I would recommend the course to everyone, who has like me I was not a clue about direction. this is worth the money and also not to forget the location of the PYB is great and the food is also great.

From lost to found

Kevin Gray

If your a complete beginner to navigation (as I was) this is definitely the course to set you in the right direction. Even if you have some previous this seemed to be a good course too. We have 2 instructors between 8 so it was nice small groups. There was very good instructions and visual aids to help along the way. The course was set out very well with helpful tasks set to help get your skills in the navigation world. Plas y Brenin centre is a great place too, the food was excellent and I have eaten worse in some restaurants before. Clean, friendly, helpful and social, what more can you ask. I am currently looking to see which next course I would like to book. Highly recommended and the amount of courses they have on offer should satisfy everyone.

Not just for beginners


I've done several previous courses at PYB, mainly kayaking, with my partner. I love the place - brilliant atmosphere, great food, packed full of people with interesting tales to tell, and one of the most gorgeous settings on the planet. So when she booked a cycling course that was way out of my league, I needed to choose soemthing else from the courses on offer that weekend so I could have another weekend there.
I chose Discovering Navigation. I've been hill-walking for about 50 years and started learning to use a map and compass before I was turned 10, so I was hardly "discovering" navigation, but there's always something new to learn and I'd done very little work with 1:25,000 (OS Explorer) maps.
In the event, I learned much more than I expected I would and really consolidated and made connections between what I already knew. Day One was spent walking up Crimpiau and on Day Two we did Moel Siabod, both by off-the-path routes that taught and tested new skills. We covered a range of techniques suitable for all conditions from summer days with distant views to white-outs, including following a hand-rail of "tick features", measuring distances by timing and by pacing, following a bearing (and "boxing" if this will result in you falling over a cliff), identifying and finding a grid reference and lots of work on using map markings (and contours especially) to visualise a destination, work out where you are on the map from what's around you, or to follow an off-the-path route.
Unless you are already totally familiar with all of these techniques, then this course will enhance your confidence to navigate your way through the hills, on or off the path, in any conditions. And even if you are, then the cakes are just brilliant.

Excellent Course


I would recommend PYB and the Discover Navigation Course to anybody who is considering learning map reading.
PYB is a great place to stay. The staff were very friendly and very professional. We were greeted at the reception by Josie who provided a warm welcome, checked us in and gave us all of the information we required to get settled. The following night Josie was working in the kitchen and was still as cheerful and on the Sunday she was working in the stores. She seemed to be everywhere and was always laughing and full of fun. I wish I had staff with the energy and drive she has!!
The course itself went above and beyond expectations. The instructor (Mike Thomas) was a very experienced Mountain Leader, with a passion for the outdoors and climbing, and this showed. He was very professional and understanding of how to tailor the course to a group, of mixed ability, at the same time. Based on the lecture he gave, on Saturday evening at the Centre, about his climbing experience I would not expect to get a person at this level of experience leading this course. But he did and he did it very well. I came away from the weekend feeling confident that I could plan a route for a day or days in the hills and know exactly where I was on the map at all times. Our group definitely learnt more than just basic map reading.
I will certainly be returning to do other courses in PYB because it is definitely quality teaching at very reasonable prices.

Great place

Claire Pace

Great place-well organised and cheery staff. Would def come again. Graham was a good instructor-very clear in his instructions and followed through all we learnt out on the hills. Only thing I would say is maybe should have hung back a bit for th slow person in our group whom was clearly struggling. Felt we were responsible for her.

Overall though really enjoyed it and much more confident using map and compass. many thanks!

Excellent course - very weel taught

Joyce Martindale

Really very good. Now much happier at navigation. Practical exercise were fund and very informative

The best £200 I have ever spent

Geoff Buttle

I attended this course at the beginning of September 2011; the course was aimed at just the right level for myself, that is started from scratch thus ensuring everybody had the same building bricks, and then it moved on into hill navigation in a seamless and easy to understand way. On the second day we went out onto the hills again but this time we actually navigated ourselves with Blair, our instructor, just keeping an eye on things. It was amazing how much we had all learnt on the first day which enabled us to fully navigate our way through quit a few miles of hills which none of us had seen before. Personally I came away with a feeling of achievement and an enormous sense of spending the best £200 of my life.
The accommodation, food, buildings, surroundings and instructors are first class. The other 7 students were a wonderful group of people, fun to mix with and all from very different backgrounds, our age ranged from 20 to around 67 years of age demonstrating that the course is suitable for all ages. A big thanks to the instructors, Blair and Cathy for a superb weekend from which I learnt a whole load of map and compass skills. I will be back for the intermediate course!

Freedom from Footpaths

Clive Power

I found this week-end course to be an excellent experience and a very useful extension of map-reading skills and navigation away from marked paths and tracks.
I thought my map-readng was pretty good, but soon realised that I was missing huge amounts of information from the map and the instructions on compass bearings, pacing and timings were very important and relevant.
The instructor (Dave Simpson) gave us a structured introduction to the skills of mountain navigation on Saturday, and he organised the weather on Sunday so that our skills were tested in wind, rain and thick mist. His ability to pass on information was excellent and, although I imagine he has done this many times before, he made the course seem fresh and of-the-moment and we all felt that we had learnt a huge amount, and that navigating in mountains would be much more exciting and predictable! Also his knowledge of mountain flora and geology was a great additional aspect of our enjoyment.
The Centre was very well run, accomodation perfect, great catering and excellent value for money. A very enjoyable weekend.

I would thoroughly recommend it.

John Clayton

A good refresher course, or beginners course on map reading skills and basic navigation. Covered a lot in two days but it was put to good practice with long walks. The small group helped & the instructor ,Luke, was very clear and helpful. I would thoroughly recommend it.

The facilities at PYB are excellent - comfortable rooms, with great dining facilities and a bar. Overall excellent value & I will definitely be returning.

Navigation made simple

Barry Wake

I wasn't too sure if this was the right course for me, but soon found that I had made the right choice. The course trainer, (Chris), was very informative and was able to adapt his style so that all abilities and individuals were catered for. I learnt loads of useful stuff and re-inforced what I already knew. As a result of taking this course I now feel confident enough to navigate of the beaten track and will be able to cope with bad weather navigation.

PYB is an excellent centre, all staff were enthusiastic and friendly. The accomodation and food was first class and the cake was great. The use of kit for this course at no extra cost was a nice touch, it allowed me to 'test' more expensive gear I have been trying to justify buying. I am already planning a trip back to further advance my skills in other areas and hope that the centre will live up to the very high standards set this time.

An excellent job done all round - Thanks for the great experiance.

Well recommended

Mick Robinson

Very good course covering the fundamentals of understanding maps and finding your way around on the hills. Only fully realised how much I learnt when the following day I walked up a mountain solo and found I knew exactly where I was along the way. Recommended even if you think you know map reading and navigation.
Oh and they have good beer on draught as well

Lisa Rajan

This course was fab. The first morning involved a short classroom session on map contours, calculating timing & distance for your walk, etc. The group was then divided into a more manageable size (6) before going out for a long walk to put it all into practice as well as learning new skills such as taking a compass bearing. This was followed by tea and cakes as well as another classroom session.
The second day was an opportunity for further practice in more challenging landscape. Again this was followed by a brief get together over more tea and cakes. Ben our instructor was really brilliant. He had a very clear teaching style.
It would have been great to have been provided with a written summary of learning points but further reading was recommended.
This course has definately given my walking an additional enjoyable element that it didnt have before. The centre itself has a great atmosphere and the food is amazing! I think you could get addicted to the place....

matthew birtwell

A well run course giving me an excellent understanding of navigation which was explained in layman's terms.
Ben, who was our instructor, demonstrated his excellent skills and also safety at all times in some testing conditions.
Andy who ran the course was also very informative and conscientious
many thanks to both of them..
A possible addition would have been course notes pre printed to take home after as a refresher.
To summarise, enjoyable and I met some like minded people and very good value for money.
I will be back for further courses

Great weekend

Ian Warner

We attended this course with another couple so that the girls could get to grips with navigation without relying on others to do the work.

It ticked all the boxes and was excellent in content, so much so that on the Monday, the girls lead a walk in the woods above Betws y Coed and were able to pace, time and use all the skills gained in the previous two days to great effect.

Once again thnk you very much, a big thank you must go to Chris.

ian warner

Simply the best!

Cara Chapman

I attended this course to brush up on the navigation skills I first learned more years ago than I care to remember (Duke of Edinburgh awards at school!!) and so that I can play a more active role in my partner's walk guiding business at the weekends.

My partner highly recommended PYB, so much so that I was worried that it would not live up to the hype. However, it did NOT disappoint!!

The weekend was superb from beginning to end. The organisation and planning was impeccable and the level of teaching was excellent. The course did exactly what I needed it to and I couldn't wait to get home and try it out. I did so a week later and felt that I really had remembered a lot of what I learned.

I came away with some really practical skills, but not so overloaded with information that I would forget it straight away.

The facilities are excellent, there's plenty of excellent home cooked food and a well stocked bar. What more could you want after a day in the hills?

I thoroughly enjoyed the course and have spent the time since coming back trying to decide which course to do next - I can't wait to come back!!

Not found what you were looking for?

You can hire one of our coaches instructors or guides from only £250 per day. They'll tailor the day to suit your aims and aspirations perfectly.
You can enjoy one to one coaching for that cost or if you get together as a group, depending on the activity, you can split that cost between up to 6 of you. If you are a group we can run any of our courses on a date that suits you and your friends. Or you could just write your own agenda for a week or weekend and we'll price it up for you - with or without accommodation. What's more, just like out normal course fees, our private instructor hire charge covers all your equipment too. Click on the link below to fill in a request form and one of our coaches will call you back (or e-mail if you'd prefer) to discuss things in detail with you.

Fill in a Callback Form

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