01690 720214

Navigation Skills

Course Overview

If you need to develop your navigation skills or your navigation is not as good as you would like, then this two day course provides an ideal opportunity to refine your technique. You will cover all aspects of advanced navigation and leave capable of finding your way confidently, day or night and in bad weather. A practical night navigation exercise will be included on dates between the beginning of September and end of March.

Experience Required

basic navigation skills.

Scheduled Dates

Detailed Course Notes

You should be 18 years old to attend this course.

Who's it for?

This weekend is for anyone who ventures out into the hills, but is not confident in their ability to reliably navigate in poor conditions. You should have a basic knowledge of map reading, including following linear features and basic use of compass. Students will be in groups according to their experience and aspirations.

Course Content

We start with the basics, and progress at a rate which suits the group members. Each day we will go out onto the hill, and learn in a practical way. This will be backed up by evening sessions in the classroom. We intend to look at the following areas:

  • Orientation of the map

  • Symbols and scales

  • Grid references

  • Ground shape and contours

  • Strategies for finding a feature (micro navigation)

  • Identifying the mountains and ridges all around

  • Pacing and timing distances

  • Measuring and walking on a bearing

  • Relocation strategies (how to find where you are if you get lost)

A practical night navigation exercise may be included on dates between the beginning of September and end of March. Bad weather is ideal for learning to navigate! The course will adapt according to the prevailing conditions to make the best of any weather.

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

Good Skills taught

G Pemberton

Focus was on reading contours, navigating to a specific point and then reading the contours to confirm position. This was at the right level for someone who is confident reading a map, using a compass and really wants know where they are when a GPS is not available. The major plus for me was an improvement in my ability to visualise the ground from the map contours and the reverse i.e. reading the ground and knowing how the contour would look.

Great course and course leader

Paul K

This was my first visit to PYB and I really enjoyed it. I'll be coming back for other courses as soon as I can. Four stars rather than five only because of the points under 'Accommodation' below. Course:
A really good introduction to navigation skills, I now feel I have the basis to get through most situations I'll encounter in my adventures. It was good to brush up on skills and knowledge I'd half-forgotten and mis-remembered, and really good to leave the paths behind and just wander across the hills under our own compass. Course leader:
Martin was fantastic, imparting his knowledge clearly and concisely, shepherding us over the hills efficiently without making us feel we were under control. The fact he was a local and a Welsh-speaker was an added bonus, particularly as my next stop after this course was a Welsh-language course. The way he introduced elements of local folklore and place-name information into the course added a huge amount of value for me. The places he took us to were so perfect for testing the skills that we found it difficult to believe he hadn't been to them before. But he proved the point at the end of day two when he challenged us to find a path marked on the map that turned out not to be there on the ground, and we ended up doing an entertaining slide down through wet, unstable and very steep woodland floor to get back to the van. Food:
Copious and good. Big cooked breakfast, adequate packed lunches, and an evening meal just on the right side of stodge. Soft drinks in the bar not cheap, though.
This was my first visit to PYB, I was travelling alone, and I was not aware I would be sharing a room. Reception told me the website makes clear accommodation is based on sharing. But the website really doesn't make this very clear up-front - you have to click purposefully through a few pages before the information is there. It wasn't a issue per se: I've no problem sharing with a stranger if that's how things are. Now I'll know for the future. It's possible to ask for a single room when booking, but this is 'pot luck' and can't be guaranteed, reception told me. And that night there were no spare rooms.

But the problem on this visit was my bed, which was very creaky. Not quite enough to stop me sleeping myself, but when I woke at 4am for the toilet, my room-mate asked me angrily if I could 'move less in my sleep'. He had been unable to sleep all night, was tired, frustrated and annoyed, and I was the target. I offered to switch beds so that he could control the noise himself, but he didn't want to. So this created an awkward, almost hostile atmosphere, which made me uncomfortable - especially since the guy was to be on the same course as me. In the morning he complained and was given his own room, after which all was well. And it meant I also ended up with a single room. But the beds are not great quality and I wonder how many other creaky ones there are. Otherwise the room was fine - basic but clean.



This was an excellent course. No classroom theory, just straight out into where it matters and practicing/learning on the ground, in the rain ;-). Had some stunning walks, ascents, views. This course assumes previous knowledge, and I think is perfect for those that can already navigate but want to hone their skills or learn important points they may have been missing. The instructor (Martin) was excellent and let everyone do their own thing as well as making sure they were safe and learning the skills needed. Everything covered was pertinent and to the point. Great course. Great accommodation. Great food. Will be coming back for more.

Great micro navigation refresher course for Summer ML assessment.


I was lacking in confidence with my micro navigation and thought that this course would help. I am very pleased to say that I was correct. After two days I was suitably 'refreshed' and the night navigation was a fantastic help. Going out on your own is very different from going out in a group, and I learned that I had a tendency to veer to the right. After this was pointed out I was able to correct myself. I am pleased to say that I sat my Summer Mountain Leader assessment in the Cairngorms and passed. I know that Plas y Brenin's help in micro navigation and night navigation was a significant help in me passing my Summer ML assessment.
Thank you!

Great course

Andy Moss

Great course. very knowledgeable instructors. Valuable skills and safety experience learned.

To be recommended!

Newbury Mountain Club

We booked two instructors through the Plas y Brenin Centre to update and develop our members personal navigation skills.

Our instructors Karl and Adam were great and took into account the range of abilities in the two groups that they took out. A lot of patience was required for some-thank you!

We all came away feeling more confident with our map reading and navigation skills so hopefully we can go out and lead walks, not just to follow or rely on others.

Top Tip! Don't rush out and buy a compass before starting the course as it may not be good enough. You can buy the recommended one when you are there.

Thanks for putting the photo's on your Facebook page.

We will definitely be back!

the penny dropped.

Stuart Murray

Had a great weekend with Harry & Ollie. I'd previously done similar training but still struggled with the basics.
The way they describe things and the techniques they use are very visual and easy to understand, and miraculously over the course of the weekend the penny dropped and things appeared much clearer.
These guys have a lot of experience between them and they are able to explain things to all people on different levels. prior to this weekend I have always walked with a group but now would have no worries venturing out on my own. Cheers lads.
PYB itself was very clean the food was great and the atmosphere in the bar is very welcoming.One last mention for Chris who gave the evening lecture on white water kayaking, great talk, very entertaining.
Thanks all for a great time, see you soon !

Great Course


This is an excellent course for improving navigation skills, with a day close to PYB going through key techniques and then a day on a bigger walk. The instructor was very knowledgeable, made sure he knew what we all wanted to get out of the weekend, and went at a pace that worked for everyone. He was also hilariously funny. Job done, Harry!

Plus you get a lovely, warm, comfortable place to stay with great food. Thanks to all the staff involved.

Great nav course

Matt & Will Walker

Attended this course in April 2014 with my son Will(age 18). We were looking to improve our nav skills and learn some new techniques and tips. Well the course really delivered. High quality instruction from our mountain leader guide Harry. Really impressed with Harry's enthusiasm, knowledge and humour. Learnt a lot more than we expected. The PYB centre is excellent, good food, accommodation, beer and very good company too. The evening lectures were very interesting. Planning to book on more courses to improve our skills in scrambling and winter hill walking. Downside - weather was too nice, long drive to suffolk - but cant do much about that. Matt Walker
Bury St Edmunds Suffolk

First time

Mike Gregory

After hearing a lot about Plas y Brenin I thought it was about time I gave it a try.

I signed up for the Navigation skills course to refresh what I already new as a result of hill walking and orienteering.

The course threw a completely different angle on what I already new. Emphasis was on planning, strategy, awareness and safety on the hill, as well as a lot of navigation exercises "in the field". Our Instructor was brilliant, explaining things along the way, and letting us make our own mistakes. There were only 5 of us in the group which was really good. I came away from this course with a whole new approach to walking on the hills, just need to go out and practise now.

My son was also at Plas y Brenin the same weekend on a Winter Skills course, which he also thoroughly enjoyed.

The staff at PYB were all very friendly and nothing was to much trouble, if you wanted anything you just asked and it was done. The food was great and plenty of it. Once I have got competent with the skills I have been thought I will be going back to PYB for the next course.

There was only one downside to the weekend, and PYB could not be blamed for that "the weather", high winds and plenty of rain. But looking on the bright side, it was good practice to navigate in bad conditions.

To sum it up A GREAT WEEKEND,

Thanks PYB

Oh nearly forgot, PYB were in the process of upgrading TV and Wi-Fi in the rooms so these were not working - a minor detail.

Great Weekend on Nav Skills Course

Paul Morton

A fantastic weekend with great instruction provided by Karl from the centre. I would thoroughly recommend this course to anyone who is new to the mountains or who has not been in the hills for a number of years who merely wish to refresh their skills. The accomodation is dry, clean and warm with plenty of facilities to dry out your gear, food was plentiful and sustaining. As is the case with all of these types of events the weekend can be enhanced if the group you are with are like minded people and for me personally we had a great group which consisted of Kate, Sarah, Dave, Nick and Rich who ensured we had a number of laughs along the way to becoming "navigators" in the true sense of the word. In the words of "Arnie - I'll be back!"
Paul M

Great course but may not have been needed if previous course were better structured

James (Bryn)ly Roebuck

I attended the course as I got deferred on my ML Assessment for navigation, the main reason for this was my lack of experience on 1:50,000 maps and having the tools to relocate when out of position for example aspect of slope and taking bearings on known features to assist in identifying my location.

Simon covered this (and much more) and we spent a whole day on 1:50,000 maps which is just what I needed to give me the confidence to book my ML re-assessment. Overhaul the course was excellent and well delivered and met all my needs. The feed back was that I should have no problem on my ML re-assessment, based on my performance over the course.

My only criticism is not of this course but the previous courses I have attended for ML Training and ML Refresher courses. At no time on these two courses did we ever use or get trained/experience on 1:50,000 maps. I think this is definitely a short fall on these two courses as navigation on 1:50,000 maps was a major part of the ML assessment, which is where I struggled.

Bryn Roebuck

Just great - did exactly what it promised!

Claire J

Terrific weekend - learned a huge amount from Mike, who was a really patient and professional teacher, and now feel confident heading out into the wilderness with a map and compass.



Fantastic weekend at Plas y Brenin. Instructor James was excellent in how he taught Navigation skills. 5 star all the way!

Comprehensive and fun - an excellent course


I couldn't believe how much I learned in a very short space of time. This is a great course for people who can read maps, but want to get out beyond defined paths and feel really confident navigating using a compass and features in the landscape.

Our instructor was kind, patient and professional, and made sure everyone in the group was participating and confident in navigation skills. By the end of the weekend, I was really happy with taking bearings, walking off a bearing and using contours to work out where we were.

We had foul weather, which was ideal for navigating - there's no cheating when the mist is down and visibility is less than 200m; you have to use the navigational tools you're taught.

If it looks as if you're going to be stuck in 6 or 7 hours of heavy rain, consider borrowing an extra waterproof to go on top of yours from the stores (or bring a spare cagoule) - another layer/double-bagging makes a world of difference for keeping dry.

The course catered well to a range of abilities - people doing their mountain leader qualification, as well as those of us who are just about OK with an OS Explorer, but still get occasionally lost, even on designated paths...

I can't recommend this course enough if you want to brush up your skills - and centre is really nice: warm, comfortable rooms, and lots of food!

Value for money.

Anne Green

I attended the Navigation Skills course this weekend and thought that it was great value for money. I learned a huge amount and felt that the instruction was excellent, progressing at just the right rate. Murdo gauged the level of the group very quickly and was flexible in his approach to what we were doing, particularly on the second day, when the weather was closing in. I felt we were in safe hands at all times. Thanks to this course I now feel much more confident about navigating when out walking on my own.

Many thanks

Great and Fun time

Fred Umney

I did not want to attend the course at first as I was by myself and same old story did not know anyone. My first encounter was with my roommate Alex what a real gentleman we had more in common in our backgrounds than I have with some of my closest friends.
In the morning I meet with the other students and our tutor, we set off walking and the instruction was from the off. For me the instruction was at a good level not rushed and if I did not understand what was being said it was put in a manner that I could I felt at ease with the instructor he always had a smile on his face and he listened to us the students.
The night navigation was of great use and help develop my own skills. I was used to doing things my way but when I listened to what was being said I picked up new skills I feel more confident in myself and my ability to map read.
It was a great course full of fun and lots of happy memories of the two days.
If you want a two day course and you are new to navigation this course is for you. Even if you’re an old hand at navigation you can still learn new techniques.
Forgot to say you will put on weight as the food is that good great choices and really friendly staff.

Mountain Navigation Skills


There were 6 of us on this course which was a good number to ensure we all learnt at a good pace. The course tutor was Dave Evans who was excelllent in all respects - a great laugh too! The course assumes you have some map reading knowledge but if you are a bit rusty don't worry because the basics will be reviewed at the start. If you go on this course you will spend a bit of time in the classroom but most of it on the hills. By the end of the two days you will have enough information to be very competent on the hills and to find your way to very detailed features on a map - features you may not have even realised are on a map! It was great fun and my thanks to Kirsty,Saad, Ann,Lucinda and Del for a great weekend. PS the food and beer is very good

Excellent course


In these days of GPS and smartphone you can be forgiven for thinking a map and compass are no longer required but this course will demostrate otherwise. I had no idea you could get so much out of a map - finding new routes to places, finding out where you are and being able to visualise the terrrian (and therefore its suitability) before you get there. The level of instruction was first class (our leader was Mo). Bad weather is actually best for this - it really brought our learning on when the clouds came down. You'll learn to take compass bearings from the map and objects, pacing, timing, back bearings and discover the real importance of reading contour lines.... You'll be walking all day so good boots and the right clothing for hill walking is essential. I also appriciated the flask of tea I made up in the morning at the lunch stop. Our course had beginners like me, through to people preparing for their ML assessment as well as a few people who had interest in the geology or flora and think everyone got something out of it. If you think your map reading skills could do with either improvement or formalising then I totally recommend this course.

Map and Compass Feb 4-5 2012

A Griffiths

Thoroughly enjoyable and informative course. Very "hands on". practical learning while hill walking in awful weather. Very good instruction - made you use your brain as well as giving confidence. Plas y Brenin is a great base to learn from, good food and bar, basic but clean, warm and comfortable rooms, cracking views. Am definitely looking for another course soon and will bring some friends. Went out today with map and compass : )
Thank you, Spike

Great skills


A really great 2 day course. Covered all aspects of navigation using maps, a compass, and GPS.
Used different scale maps and not just 1:25,0000. Therefore giving experience of different map features, content and scales.
Spent time on all aspects of good hill walking, including distance measurement and walking speeds on differing terrains. All of which are imperative to successful route planning and execution.
Really great instruction from Steve and good course content.
Steve gave us plenty of time for skills practice and was always ready and eager to answer follow up questions.
The night navigation was brilliant and really put into practice everything learnt during the first day.
thank you :)

Learning and practising kep map and compass skills

Bruce Matheson

This is based on learning a key skill out in the field then trying it out immediately in the complex terrain near the Centre.

Well organised presentation of information and mnemonics to remember what to do.

Good way to learn and just the right amount to fit in over a weekend.

Accomodation and food good. Fun to meet others with outdoor interests and a wide knowledge.


Barbara Wilkie

Thank you, Cath, + all at PYB for another fantastic energy-filled weekend! I learnt so much, + it was pitched just right! I've got by with maps + vague compass stuff, cos stuck with paths, but thanks for teaching me so much more, Cath, + keeping me + my walking group safer in future! I also loved room 70, loved the food, loved the friendly atmosphere + smiles - hits as soon as you walk into reception. I'll be back!! (Sooner, rather than later) All bests to all at PYB xxx

An eye opener.

David Turner

However basic your level of skill with a map and compass may be, this course will give you the knowledge and mental tools to plan routes safely and with confidence. I have experience with underwater and ariel navigation but found the detailed talks about local features and scale on the maps showed there was so much more there than I was seeing. A real eye opener.

The centre itself has a warm and friendly feel about it. You immediately feel like part of the place rather than a user of it.

Many thanks to all the staff, especially Cath and Blair our instructors.

Great course!


I realy enjoyed the course and thought it was well-taught. It really taught me to look at a map in more detail to help me identify things on the ground as I go. The use of Naismith's law was also very handy for calculating timings. The food and accommodation was excellent too - I'd strongly recommend this course for anyone that needs to sharpen up their navigation skills.

Did what it said on the tin

Diane Owen

I took this course to brush up on my skills to give me the confidence to navigate on my own, maybe in poor weather. I feel far more confident now and can see there is far more detail in a map than you see at first glance. Now I just need to find the time to get out there and do it more often. John, thank you for your encouragement. I have had my hip treated today- it was considerably out of line! No wonder I had difficulties.

I think the welcome meeting would be far better at a given time in the bar on the evening of arrival with a welcome printout for late arrivals, especially the fire alarm info. It was as if there was an assumption that everyone had visited before which was not the case and some of us were a bit confused at first! That said it was a great weekend.

Complete Navigation Jan 2011

Dermot Maxwell

Brilliant course, I was lucky in only having a small group so we all had plenty of practice. by the end of the week the skills being so well implanted by Mike were becoming second nature. Mike tailored the course to suit our requirements, for us we didn't want gps instruction so we did more compass and map practice with a little taster of crampons and ice axes thrown in for interest. Our night navigation evening gave us a wonderful sunset on top of the Glyders followed by a magnificant full moon!!
Highly recommend this course, the centre and the staff.
Will be going again to do a different course later this year.

Really good course

Helen Sellers

Really good course, got much more out of it than I thought I would, realised how much I'd been ignoring on maps! Good atmosphere for learning, plenty of time to think things through.

Also, excellent accommodation/food. Can't recommend it enough for anyone who's done some walking but wants to improve their skills.

Will definitely be back to do another course.


Highly Recommended - whatever your experience level

Tim Worrall

The course started slowly and gently but the pace of learning accelerated as steeply as Moel Siabod (which we were climbing). Each section progressed neatly from the last - looking back at the first day I think now how easy it would be (but wasn't at the time!) - and we all made terrific progress. Day 2 was very tricky and we all made loads of mistakes but the group was incredibly supportive of one another and Dave very gently corrected us and was a very patient teacher. While I am inspired to go and practise as soon as possible, after finding our way to about 100 ring contours I may avoid those for a while...

Excellent Course: Most Highly Recommended

Bill Rea

I'd done a fair amount of hill navigation some time ago and wanted to refresh the skills lost in the interim. As it turned out, this course did that and much more- I learned many more new skills than I had expected, as well as having forgotten techniques refurbished.

One day was spent on small local hills with fairly bumpy terrain. This introduced micro-navigation challenges and taught appropriate skills. A night navigation exercise proved challenging but both fun and a good learning experience. The second day saw us on Cnicht, putting the previous day's learning into practice on a larger scale walk. Along the way, some basic hillcraft skills were looked at and revised.

The only problem we had was the good weather- excellent visibility made it a bit too easy to guess your way out of a problem. The night exercise did help with this, though, and the instructors posed appropriately difficult problems to compensate for the good visibility.

Plas y Brenin provides great facilities, food and accommodation [oh, and beer]. What it really excels at is the quality of instruction. The two instructors on our course, Mark and Chris, were expert, informative, friendly and great teachers. World class, I would say.

This isn't a course for navigation beginners; an amount of basic map reading and compass skills is assumed. The "basic" level of fitness meant, for me at least, something a little more strenuous than I'd expected: worth getting in shape for, if you aren't already.

If you want a chance to learn or relearn hill navigation skills, beyond the basic level, then this would be an ideal course for you.

Great place for a friendly tution experiance

Philip O'Loughlin

I arrived at PYB to be greeted warmly by the reception staff who in a clear manner outlined the general Health & Safety information for residents.

The three berth room I was allocated had an ensuite and was functional, I would comment that perhaps it was nearing a refurbishment soon but was clean and adequate.

I visited the bar which was quiet at the time (Friday night), I did notice that on the arrival of a young lady attending another course, the bat tender lept into a deep conversation with her, obviously having met before and supplied wine at what appeared to be no cost which I felt I was in some way subsidising?

We assembled in the main lecture room the following morning for an overview of PYB which was delivered in a witty and enjoyable fashion.

We then went off to our respective courses and had an overview of the next few days. David was very approachable and friendly and answered questions or pointed out user errors in a very non patronising manner.

On arriving back from a day on the hills, the meal we had was excellent, as were everything else we were given to eat during our stay.

The course delivered what I wanted, but I wanted it to last perhaps another day just to nail things down. Perhaps a little more theory in the classroom but all in all was good.

I will be coming back again!

A navigation course that's really enjoyable, fun and very helpful.

mr steven hiatt

I found the instructor really helpful and really down to earth if we had aproblem he really tuck his time to go over it and made sur everybody was ok,
He made the course fun, really interesting and made the course really easy to understand and really got the group into it and really motivated, I know the other members of the group will be back and I know I will to do other courses that will help me improve and to move forward in the directions I want to be going in.

You..ll never look at a map in quite the same way again

Paul Wells and Lindsay Rowley

Really interesting and enjoyable weekend - if intentionally wandering around on a Welsh hillside after dark in the pouring rain is your thing. But then you know that the instruction is top class and there..s a warm shower, comfortable rooms and a nice bar waiting for you at the end.

The two days were a nice mix of theory (everybody benefits from a refresher session) and lots of practice in micronavigation and all that goes with it. We got out for three good sessions near P-Y-B, down near Pen y Pass after dark and above Nantmor on the second day to really put everything to the test.

We..ll feel a lot more confident above our navigation next time the weather turns bad in the hills. And we..ll never look at a map in quite the same way again.

O'r diwedd!

Dafydd Wyn Morgan

Finally it all fell into place! A two day course at PYB is the best way to learn navigation.It has consolidated everything an no not only am I happy with the topic myself but am confident to teach others as well...something I would never have considered a year ago.
Night navigation was perfect and route planning made negotiating your chosen leg on Sunday much easier.
Try to visualise your route from looking at the map.
Better prepared now for the ML assessment.

Diolch yn fawr iawn i'r tiwtor, Owen, am ei arweiniad.
www.walktregaron.co.uk (If Carlsberg made walking clubs........)

Helen Taylor

I had a good weekend, refreshing my memory on stuff I learned in my D of E 20 years ago. It seemed there was a hell of a lot to be found on a map that i had basically ignored and not noticed, which gives you such confidence when you put it all together. My sister and i have just got back from a week in The Lake District. Weather not fantastic, but we did get a few Wainrights under our belt. One walk was cut short when we navigated off Brandreth to Green Gable in very low cloud and wind we struggled to stand up in. We decided there was no point in going up Greta Gable at that point, but we had put our skills and compass to use.
Really enjoyed the course and felt it met all my needs. Would recommend it to anyone with a bit of knowledge and wanting to feel more confidence

Are we there yet?

Chris Pittaway

After 2 days of great practical navigation in superb surroundings 'There' takes on a different meaning.

I wanted to leave with the confidence to be able to navigate across any terrain, day or night in any weather conditions and the course certainly gives you the instruction and practical oppertunities to hone your skills to achieve this. It also gives you a chance to enjoy walking in the hills with friendly, like-minded people.

Part way through the second day, sitting in the sun, away from 'normal life' with views either across the Irish sea and the Great Orme, or back towards the snow covered mountains, Who wants to be there?, I was happy with here.

Great course!

Karl White

Keen walker but sometimes a bit unsure where exactly you are? Or have done navigation before but you are a bit rusty? If so then this is the perfect course for you. Great walking in great scenery and you learn a lot about navigation. Our instructor was great and it turns out he is quite a good climber too! Google him - James McHaffie. All in all a great weekend.

Great course! (there may be more to OS maps than you think :-)


The two of us knew our compass skills were weak but, having walked with OS maps for years, we didn't expect to learn more about the use of the maps as well.

In two (very) full days of intensive walking/study on various hillsides Dave taught us ways to measure the distance we travelled on compass bearings taken from the map to features we'd never have bothered to think about as landmarks. (Which was particularly useful in finding our way down the hillside back to PYB during the night navigation exercise.) We learned the importance of planning a route and sticking to it: walking a compass bearing into the teeth of a hailstorm wasn't a lot of fun, but it was a really... stinging... reminder that we're likely to need these skills in the worst weather conditions. We proved that features shown on maps may not be present on the ground, and that features on the ground may not be shown on the map .. and we learned how to handle the situation when we encountered them or failed to encounter them on the hill. The end result: we feel reasonably competent and reasonably confident that, if we continue to hone these skills, we'll be as safe as we can be in conditions that would once have kept us ambling on low-level trails. Thanks, Dave - we're going to enjoy our freedom!

All of this would have been much less fun if we'd been cold or hungry or uncomfortable. But the beds were comfortable, the shower fantastic, the meals ample and delicious, the beer excellent (of course there's a bar) and the drying room on which we relied for dry boots was unbelievably effective. More importantly, the atmosphere at PYB was simply amazing: it's full of people enjoying life, learning and teaching important skills as well as acquiring confidence that will sustain them in everything they do. We didn't know what to expect when we arrived, but we left knowing we want to come back and learn more.



A very enjoyable week. Our instructor, Matt, worked hard to ensure that we we learned what we signed up to do whilst also ensuring that we had an enjoyable time.

We were introduced at a steady rate to the practicalities of navigation with direct opportunities to put into practice what we had been taught.

The group ration to instructor (4:1) was excellent and it ensured that we all got a chance to get help and advice from the instructor.

All instructors were well informed and able to teach us in a engaging and interative way and also maintained a supportive and encouraging learning environment whilst also enabling us to have fun.

The accommodation was reasonable. Some additional thought needs to go into the appointment of thge en-suite bathrooms. There was not enough hanging space to hang up wet towels and it was a bit annoying to find that the cleaner put the wet bath mat on top of my shower towel (also wet) every day because there was no space to hang this up separately.

Food was plentiful and filling though it is a shame that the starter and main course have to be collected together as the main course gets cold on the plate before you can eat it - (hot plates perhaps may help conserve the food temperature).

It would also be a good idea if there were 2 less table spaces laid and the number of chairs reduced by two at each table. It was very cramped and detracted from the dining experience. In times of low occupation there is no reason why everyone should be crammed together.

Service at reception was good. Friendly and smiley staff are always a good start! At the start of the week one of the kitchen staff looked very fed up as she served the punters but by the middle of the week she had cheered up a bit (thank goodness!).

The facilities were good and the drying rooms really magnificent. It makes a real difference to know that kit will be dry for the next day.

Overall a very good first experience at PYB - I'll definitely come again.

where are we? how far is it?

Iestyn thomas

Two of the most commonly asked questions by people I take out on walks in the countryside and into the wilds of Mid wales. this course served the purpose of teaching us exactly how to navigate with confidence to an exact spot anywhere on the map you have with you. Andy did a great job of teaching us the four D's of navigation - Direction, Distance, Duration and Detail. Brilliant!
The added bonus was that this was the Valley Based navigation Skills course, so we didn't have to spend an hour or two walking up hills to start the training! Step out of the Plas and start navigating!
Two days of fun, facts, and laughter as well as inspiring us to do more and (hopefully) gain better appreciation of the British countryside and wildlife while simply walking through it with the skills to find ourselves home if we DID manage to get lost! Highly recommended, Well Done Plas y Brenin! llongyfarchiadau i chi gyd!!

Heulwyn Roberts

I have just attended the first Valley Based Navigation course at Plas Y Brenin and loved every minute of it. From the moment I arrived on Friday night to leaving on Sunday afternoon I was made to feel welcome in a relaxed but informative atmosphere by the staff.
As the title suggest the course was based in the Valley which meant no long slogs before the course could begin. We literally stepped outside the centre and had the first lesson of the day with our friendly instructor Andy. Much of the first day was spent learning the skills and repeating exercises to lock them in and prove our understanding after which it was back to base for some much needed tea and cake. The following day we took a trip further out to Cnicht to revisit what had already been learnt and hone our skills even further. We spent a day in the foothills, reaching a height of approximately 400m. We navigated to little used areas and points of interest and had fun doing so.
If you are new to navigation or even have basic skills I would definately recommend you sign up for this course to gain a better grounding and enjoy the outside world not to mention the friends you will make and the good time you will have just being at the centre.

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

Other Courses you should consider?

Complete Navigation

Also consider this

Fourteen Peaks Challenge

Also consider this

Scottish Winter Mountaineering

Also consider this

Got A Date Available - Need An Adventure To Match?

Contact our team on 01690 720214 or email - they will be happy to help you find something perfect.

Adventure Sports
Coaching Conference

Adventure Sports Coaching ConferenceOur inaugural Adventure Sports Coaching Conference will seek to explore the role of coach developers in adventure sports performance.


Christmas and New YearOn behalf of all the team at Plas y Brenin, we would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a H....


Scottish Winter Courses 2018Starting January 2018, our Scottish Winter courses are timed to make the most of the incredible wint....


Winter WarmersAs the nights begin to draw in and the temperature starts to drop, Plas y Brenin are pleased to offe....


Peak Performance For Plas y Brenin Paddling TeamWe are delighted to announce that we've launched an exciting new partnership with kayak clothing man....


BMC Women Outdoors Week 5-15 Aug 2017Come and get active for the BMC's Women Outdoors Week here at Plas y Brenin. We have talks, activiti....

What's On In Our bar?

Our friendly and lively bar is open to the public. From talks and lectures to film nights and live music, there's always something going on. Find out what's coming up next here

Adventure Sport
Summer Camps (Age 12-17)

Summmer Camps For Young People Aged 12-17Young climbers, mountaineers, paddlers and mtb riders aged 12-17. Develop your outdoor skills with our top coaches on one of our residential summer camps.

Enhanced Learning Credits

Enhanced Learning CreditsThe Enhanced Learning Credit Administration Service offers funding for armed forces personnel. Plas y Brenin is able to accept ELCAS funding for a few specific non residential courses.

Weather Forecast, Tides and Surf Conditions

Find out what the weather's doing in North Wales over the next five days.

Adventure Map

Working alongside UCLan
to educate
outdoor professionals

University Of Central LancashireFind out how we are working with one of the country's top universities to develop lasting careers in the outdoors.