01690 720214

Complete Navigation

Course Overview

Over the course of these five days you'll develop from having little or no navigational experience to having a firm understanding of mountain navigation techniques. You'll look at the traditional methods of navigation, using a map and compass before moving on to examine the benefits that modern technology can bring, using a handheld GPS system. All of this will, of course, be wrapped up with plenty of walking in the hills, putting everything into practice in real situations to further your understanding.
A great way to rapidly develop a well rounded knowledge of mountain navigation or to consolidate and expand a basic grasp of traditional technique.

Experience Required

none required.

Scheduled Dates

Detailed Course Notes

You should be 18 years old to attend this course.

Who's it for?

This week is ideal if you have an interest in hill walking but lack the skills or confidence to venture out and find your way. As we could be out on the hill all day, every day, a reasonable level of fitness is required.

Course Content

Throughout the week you start with basic mapwork building up to more complex contour interpretation and map and compass skills. At an appropriate time your Instructor will introduce the mysteries of GPS whilst at the same time emphasising the basics (after all, gadgets can break!) By the end of the week you should feel confident about navigating effectively using a variety of means throughout the UK or abroad both on and off the beaten path. In addition to the practical daytime programme there will be a variety of evening sessions to include some or all of the following:

  • Mountain weather

  • Equipment

  • Emergency procedures

  • Planning a mountain day

Dependant on the time of year there will be a Night Navigation Session.

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 (MLTUK Official Publication)
  • Mountain Navigation by Peter Cliff
  • Best Walks in North Wales by Richard Sale
  • Nature of Snowdonia by Mike Raine
  • Navigation in the Mountains (MLTUK Official Publication) -  Due for sale 2012

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

Five days of pure enjoyment

Kathleen Hughes

What a wonderful place I've found! I didn't quite know what to expect when I made the booking, but I was pleasantly surprised by everything and everyone I encountered. The bookings procedure was simple and straight forward. My room was clean, warm and spacious, the food was fantastic, the staff were all pleasant and helpful, and as for the views from the windows - what more can I say? Our instructor for the five days was Brad. He was completely professional in every way and made sure we all enjoyed the days we spent with him on the mountains. He taught us everything the course promised, plus more from his own knowledge and experience. He encouraged us to think for ourselves and to move a little outside of our comfort zones whilst staying safe from harm. He did this with a sense of humour, diligence and a keen insight into the needs of each individual member of the group. My personal objective was to gain the confidence to plan and navigate myself safely over a chosen route without getting lost or stranded, and to do so within a realistic time frame. I achieved my goal by the end of the week and am now ready to begin the adventures I've been promising myself during my retirement years.

Highly recommended course

Garry weston

There is no substitute for good professional practical instruction,which was evident on each of the five day course. We had 4 different instructors (David,Simon,Mike and Harry),each giving consistent advice with the added bonus of different past experiences which proved entertaining and useful. The only improvement I could suggest would be to offer the night navigation that was impractical in June,at a later date in the year .( this would involve a simple admin task of e-mailing previous summer course students who might be interested ,and creating an "add on" course of perhaps 3-5 people to keep costs down) The accommodation was to a high standard,the food outstanding. I am hoping to return later this year for the introduction to scrambling course.

Happy Days

Lol T

What a hugely enjoyable week, our instructor was a hoot and fate also gave me a good group to be with. Every day was spent up in the hills getting to know our maps and techniques. Walking a distance of around 10Km a day we enjoyed some great scenery and some tricky tasks too. The evenings saw an interesting talk and/or a short classroom session and of course piles of excellent food.

My only comment on the course content is that I think that we should have spent more time up in the poor visibility of the clouds to try to find our way around.

The centre is well looked after with perfectly acceptable rooms - hot showers were never a problem. I look forward to returning on another occasion.

Excellent course

Jonathan Borthwick

An excellent course, outside in the hills from Day1. The instructor, Emma, was excellent. She rapidly guaged the correct level at which to pitch the course. Irrespective of previous knowledge, I believe all of us came away with considerable enhancement to our navigation skills.

Teaching navigation

Marcus Richardson

A very good and well run course. Lots of very interesting strategies for engaging learners on this subject. a end of course certificate for CPD would have been beneficial.

Very helpful

Julian Sinclair

I found the course very helpful. There was plenty of practical work which is what I really needed to help me develop my navigation skills.

It might be good to move the night navigation from the first day to mid-week. This was quite challenging so it would give attendees more time to learn before trying out their skills in this more difficult environment.

Overall Excellent, 29 Nov to 3 Dec

Leon Winnert

I came to the course with some experiance of navigating and was looking to improve my skills and correct some of my bad habits. I got what I came for and in the proces learnt how to navigate over a variety of differing terrain in a variety of weather conditions. Moorland, desolate valleys, woods mountains in the mist. bogs in the dark. Yes, we did the lot, plus a bit more, and I was not disappointed.

You see the weather was cold and snowy so our intructor said if we are to go navigatiing in high ground then we are goint to have to teach you some winter mountain skills. Are you up for it? Yes of course we are. So we got kitted out with 4 season boots, crampons and ice axes. Not only did we learn to use these items we were also taught some (winter) survival stratagies too.

OK back to navigating, Two excellent instructors taught us the basiscs of map reading, pacing, timing, comapss and GPS work and from there onwards we developed our new found skills in a variety of situations. Also I was disabused of my misconceptions about the relationship of paths and rights of ways and other things. And I was able to deal with my common errors in locating my position in relation to the map.

All in all an excellent course, does what it says on the tin, and I feel much moor confident in taking my self off across wild terrain. "I'll be back!"

Excellent Course

Mike Lawrence

I found the course etremely good it covered all aspects of naviagation that I was hoping for, with excellent tution from Steve and Paul.
The course wasn't rushed or structured allowing us to keep going over certain things until we were happy.
Steve was an excellent tutor didn't make things to complicated was extremely friendly, proffessional and highly knowledgeable.
The centre was very well equipped the rooms comfortable and the food was 1st class.
Would recommend this course to any one an will return.

Great weekend

Dorothy Chandler

Very enjoyable relaxed two days, micro navigating spurs and re-entrants. First day was very intense, but after a nights sleep, most of what we learnt on day one made more sense.
Chris, our instructor for the weekend was very patient, answered every question asked. The most important thing I did learn, was to study the map intensely and not just look at footpaths and ignore the surrounding terrain.
Hope to go back and do the weekend scrambling later in the year.

course 14th - 19th March

Jonathan Grice

Good facilities, good food, friendly and helpful staff and great instructors (Cathy, Sally and Tim) who were really enthusiastic about imparting their knowledge and making sure we fully understood what they were telling us. It was inspiring to have instructors with such CV's and track records willing and patient enough to teach us beginners. Even the weather played ball with the first two days being fine to learn the basics and then closing in with rain, wind and hill fog to put our new found skills to the test.
The night navigation was quite an experience with cloud and drizzle so no moonlight or stars to help! A suggestion would be to try and fit in two sessions of night navigation as in the first session we were also getting used to the somewhat 'alien' environment which compromised our learning ability a little and we would have got more out of a second session when we were more used to the conditions.
Overall though an excellent course and good value for the cost. I would highly recommend it to any hillwalker wanting to improve their skills and gain more confidence to cope with what might be encountered out there!

Helen Barnard was Excellent!

Jane Eggleston

A great week helped by great weather. I was a bit upset that I had a CONFIRMED place on an ML Taster course which is what I really wanted to do.

Having said that the quality of the tutor, accommodation, food nd location were all excellent and greatly exceeded my expectations.

I would have no hesitation in recommending it to others. I will be back for more

Excellent Course but no mist

Brian Kirkham

A very enjoyable course, which refreshed the basics of hill navigation and using a GPS.

The course was hands on from the first day as Helen was an excellent instructor. Starting with the basics of pacing and location we were searching for sheep folds and hillocks in the endless bracken by the first afternoon. Never covered the same ground twice and the walks were challenging enough to appreciate the scale of hill navigation particularly for those with dodgy knees!

The only area that could have been improved was the weather, it was completely clear and dry apart for a few hours on Friday, so navigation was straightforward with all the target points visible. Strange one to complain about no mist in Snowdonia!

With respect to the course, doing it in the height of summer precluded any night navigation apart from locating your room from the bar at closing time.

I personally would have liked to use the GPS on 2 days rather than the single day we had, to reinforce this area of navigation.

Great mixed group of people on this course and other courses taking place at the same time, and tongue in cheek response to Robs comment there was no one 60+ on our course just a few of us appeared to be! Great social interaction and banter across all the different courses and the Brenin bitter is highly recommended.

Food and accommodation was excellent

I will definitely attend other courses, scrambling looks like fun

Good grounding in navigation skills

Robert Patten

A thoroughly enjoyable 5 days spent in the mountains.

I was initially worried that there would be a little too much theory and sitting in the classroom going over techniques. My fears were soon washed away when no longer than half an hour after meeting our instructor Helen, we were out of the building and walking. If only in the very local vicinity. Soon we set off further afield and didn't look back (except when we were practicing our navigation skills)

I really liked the fact that we didnt visit the same mountain twice and that the walks were long enough to really get stuck into without feeling out of depth.

The only down side was the absence of night time navigation but this was understandable considering it didn't get dark until 10pm.

We had a really mixed group ranging from 18 to 60+ which made for an interesting dynamic. Never the less, we all got on well and enjoyed the good food and local ale in the evening.

Great course to start off with and I will be returning to do my Mountain Leader training in the near future.

Alice Wood

course OK
had hoped to do night navigation

Course delivered everything I expected and more.


My only previous experience of navigation was at primary school where they drove us out to the forest and left us there with maps and compasses (now being a teacher myself, I can understand why they did it). We'd eventually find our way back although not with the aid of map and compass and not without losing confidence in our ability to navigate. I decided to take this course after spending my last holiday in the hotel - too scared to get lost on the walks I'd planned.

This was my first visit to Plas y Brenin. Every aspect of it was thoroughly enjoyable. The organisation of the course, its content and instruction were excellent.

Before we set off each morning, Helen - our course director - would involve us in discussing the weather and how it would affect our choice of venue and route. Being made part of this process meant that we could grow an understanding of how to choose venues/routes, ourselves, in the future.

We navigated our way through each route, from start to finish. Yes, even when 'tea and cakes' (Play y Brenin) was right in front of us and in clear view. Because every minute was spent on practicing all the new skills we'd learnt I was able to develop my confidence over those five days. For example, on the last day, it was foggy at the summit of Y Foel Goch and I remember realising that it wasn't possible to tell, from sight, that we were on a mountain top, let alone know which way we'd come up or how to get down; I found it really satisfying to navigate our way down safely.

Another very valuable aspect of the course were my course mates - discussing and confirming our navigation/observations with each other - and I share Natalie and Joanna's sentiment (below) of feeling sad when it was time to leave on Friday.

Top Tip: borrow a compass from stores at PYB if you don't have one and don't know which type to buy.

Gaining Confidence

Natalie and Joanna Sweet

Have you ever followed a guide when walking and sometimes lost your way as things have changed since the walk was published? or thought you were where you are supposed to be, but in fact your miles away? Then, like us, this course is for you!

We had a fantastic week covering micro-navigation, walking on a bearing, timing, pacing, GPS, weather forecasting and choosing suitable routes, and looked at contour lines in a new light!

The week started with a classroom session, looking at maps, identifying general features and identifying symbols before heading out from the centre onto Craig Wen (548m). After several hours of taking bearings and finding features (without getting lost!) and getting to know the other people on the course, we arrived back to tea and cakes (yummy!). Day 2 - we set off in the mimi bus to Penmaenmawr (on the north coast). Staying fairly low-level, we did lots of micro-navigation around Druid settlement remains that over-looked fabulous views of Anglesea. Day 3 - following discussion about the wather forecast for the day, we braved the wind to reach the summit of Moel Siabod (872m). We got dropped off and left at the base of the ridge and practised our bog-avoiding techniques before looking along the ridge. Having worked out our paces for 100m on the flat, it was a great opportunity to do the same on the ridge and add in timings (Naismith's rule included for contours). Day 4 - playing with gadgets, GPS! If you've never used one before, the centre has plenty for you to use and our instructor, Paul expertly went through step-by-step inputting our own grid references and marking waypoints - we were all amused by the pictures we could add! Day 5 - the idea was to put everything together that we had learnt and become more confident at stearing away from paths. Helen tested our navigation skills around Braich y Ddeugwn (ridge) leading to the summit of Y Foel Goch (805m). Lots of bogs around to get stuck in! and plenty of opportunities to test our newly developed contour knowledge.

It was sad to leave on the Friday afternoon, having created new friendships, enjoyed the scenary and learnt enough to feel confident about navigating in even the fowlest of weather (we did pray for fog each day just to make sure!) and in places we know without going on the course we wouldn't have dared venture.

Every member of staff at Plas y Brenin made us feel welcome and we can't wait to visit again. THANK YOU!!!

What a week!!!

Vinny Gidley

What a fantastic time I had! The instructors Matt, Dave and Helen put everyone at ease very quickly the speed of the course and content was excellent from day one.
We managed to cover every stage of Navigation fitting the training around rain, high winds and laughter. The night Navigation was a challenge nearly as much as the local pub shutting at 9 pm with 8 thirsty walkers standing at the bar?
One of the highlights for me was the day we covered G.P.S the equipment came to life after a year of ownership. We even managed to convert Matt to the ease of G.P.S.

I really did enjoy how everyone had his or her questions answered in a fun professional manner. Also on 3 nights we had evening lectures, which managed to stimulate the mind after a full day on the hill, with a pint in hand.
The P.Y.B environment and food also eased everyone into team building. I would without question go back again to attend other courses; maybe a winter course is next for me.

I only have three complaints that the week went too quickly, Dave..s jokes and singing!!!!!!

Testing basics in field

Daryl Peagram

Shared rooms and four meals a day together make this quite a social affair.

The tendency to go out and try basic theories rather than stay in the classroom to learn advanced theories would suit the more outgoing types. Certainly this proves the size of the challenge by trying what looks easy on paper in the dark, wet, cold and wind. Those who are up for it might prefer the chance to learn and practice contouring, resecting and slope aspect, to build on what is mostly day after day of bearings. Maybe that would need a seven day course though. One day's walk extends to late afternoon to experience how dusk slows you down and interferes with your judgement. Another day is spent in a range of the instructor's choosing but on a route of the delegates' choosing, resulting in potentially scrambles off paths. You have to live with a certain amount of institutionalisation for the centre to function, like mealtimes, bunks and cleaning facilities; having to leave keys at reception can become a bind due to not being allowed to go there in boots just as you are dressed up for a day in the hills and trying to get out the door. The cost, distance and effort may be what filters out youngsters and beginners - most delegates were white male experienced hillwalkers or climbers. The self-employed instructors tended to be personalities, quick witted and fun to be around. The evening lectures will be familiar to hardened explorers and a taster for beginners. Due to the modular nature of courses, you should check which stuff you have already covered or which you will cover subsequently, eg in hillwalking skills. You'll need headtorch and gaitors, and either strong legs or motivation.

Great Course, Great Instructors, Great Place!

Nathan Morrow

This course delivered everything that it stated in the brochure which was just what I was after! If you want to improve your own navigational skills then this is the course which you should take!

Although I would say that I am a experienced hill walker my navigational skills were pretty non-exsistant before this course. I had relied on my mates to navigate due to my lack of skills and confidence in navigation. I was looking for a course to provide me with these skills and also the confidence to utilise them so that I can head out into the mountains on my own.

This course covered a wide range of subjects from navigating with a Map and Compass, G.P.S, Mountain weather and Route Planning. Our instructors Paul Warnock and Carlo Forte were excellent, and put you at ease and delivered all the knowledge in a very informal way which made it even easier to learn. All of this was taught outside on the fantastic mountains of Snowdonia which was another bonus as I was expecting quite a lot of indoor theory work. ( This may have had something to do with the weather being hot and sunny but luckily enough it had been arranged for us to have low cloud and poor visibility for the last day so we could put our new found skills into practice! )

The facilities were much better than I'd expected, the centre was clean, the bed was comfortable, the shower was hot, the staff were friendly and the food was great ( Especially the cakes! ).

This was my first course at Plas y Brenin and I can't recommend it highly enough, well done to all the staff for making it an enjoyable experience. It was definately great value for money as you recieve quality tuition from experienced and qualified instructors. Now what course shall I do there next!

Complete satisfaction, with Complete Navigation!!!

Nathan Gallon

If you are in to your hillwalking and want to have the confidence with you navigation skills to go just that bit further, higher, or off the beaten track then this is the course for you.

The course content was just right and the instructor (Paul Warnock) certainly knew his stuff, which he delivered in an informal and relaxed way. He was full of knowledge and only too happy to pass it on. We all had a great time, banging round the hills and being taught all we needed to know about navigation, actually on the hills, which enabled us to see first hand what we were being taught. From taking and using bearings, through to contour interpretation and poor visibility navigation.

This course has given me the confidence to strike out on my own and be able to achieve more, with the knowlegde that my navigation skills are now a lot better than they were before.

I can thoroughly recommend this course to anyone who wants to learn about or improve on their navigation skills.

Next stop for me........ a scrambling course!!

1st visit, 1st impressions, 1st class.

Paul Gratwick

This course was excellent, we covered everything that was described in the brochure, and much more.
Cath Wilson and Dave Percy, were excellent instructors; Mike Raine was also very good on his classroom talk.
They covered all that I needed to find my way around the hills and mountains, taking time and patience to ensure that we all understood what we doing.
Both instructors pointed out wildlife, flora, fauna and geological and weather features.
They explained the need to keep warm, dry and wear the correct clothing, and ensured that we did when conditions were deteriorating.
When I expressed an interest in some basic scrambling, Cath took the opportunity to show me a few things on the way up the North East ridge of Moel Siabod.
Dave took good care of me and helped me scramble safely up Gribbin ridge, pointing out the safest route.
I felt very safe with both of them.
The centre and facilities were far better than I imagined, good food, friendly helpful staff, hot showers.
This was the first time I'd been on a course, or visited, Plas y Brenin and I'm pretty sure it won't be the last.
Thanks to all involved, excellent value, thoroughly recommend it.

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?

Discover Navigation

Also consider this

REC Emergency First Aid

Also consider this

Winter Fourteen Peaks Challenge

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.