01690 720214

Mountain Skills (5 days)

Course Overview

Covering the more advanced skills of summer hillwalking and mountaineering, this five day course concentrates on the techniques required for multi-day journeys and travel in the sometimes hostile conditions and rocky terrain encountered in the British mountains. Perfect if you are an experienced hillwalker who wants to develop the necessary techniques of navigation, route finding, expedition camping, basic ropework and hazard awareness needed to look after yourself and your friends or family in the mountains.

The course includes a two day expedition with an overnight camp.

Experience Required

Summer hillwalking.

Scheduled Dates

Detailed Course Notes

You should be 18 years old to attend this course.

Who's it for?

This week is designed for anyone who has done some hill walking in the UK, and would like to challenge themselves with harder walks away from paths and perhaps involving some scrambling. As we will be out on the hill all day, a reasonable level of fitness is required.

Course Content

Each day we will undertake a journey in the mountains, and discuss various topics as we go. This will be supported by evening classroom based sessions. Towards the end of the week we will go for a mini expedition and spend a night wild camping. Over the week we will cover:

  • Mountain navigation, including night navigation, relocation techniques, micro navigation and an introduction to GPS

  • Walking Skills - what things you should consider while out walking, what can make life easier (pace, nutrition, movement skills), travelling over a variety of terrain and basic scrambling and ropework skills

  • Mountain weather - how it affects the mountains, your day out, how to cope with it and interpreting forecasts.

  • Planning a journey - how to successfully plan a walk in the hills and mountains of the UK or Ireland

  • Mountain clothing and equipment - what to wear and carry, including all those extra kit is always handy to have with you, as the right kit can make the difference between good day out and a bad one

  • Campcraft - how to wild camp in the UK and the equipment you need

  • Environment - learn about the upland environment and how human impact has affected it, how to minimise your impact on the hill and good practice

  • Hazards and Emergency Procedures - how to deal with any hazards you encounter and what to do in an emergency

The week will adapt according to the prevailing conditions to make the best of any weather.

This course exceeds all the requirements of Mountain Skills an accredited scheme by Mountain Training if you wish to receive a Mountain Training certificate of attendance then you will need to speak to your instructor and register with Mountain Training. You can do this on the Mountain Training website here

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

  • Gaiters (optional)

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers

  • Head torch (winter months)

  • High factor sunscreen

  • Midge repellant

  • 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)

  • Tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat

  • Expedition rucksack (around 50 litres)

  • Stove (plus fuel), pans, cutlery, mug

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

  • Gaiters (optional)

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers

  • Compass

  • Tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat

  • Expedition rucksack (around 50 litres)

  • Stove (including fuel) & pans

Customer Reviews For This Course

Mountaineering Skills

Guy Martin

This course went beyond my expectations and was certainly very practical. I had some experience in navigation and leading from university cadets years earlier although I had lost a lot of confidence during the intervening years. The course is perfect for those who might be aspiring to attend the Mountain Leader Training Course but would like to know where they stand whilst brushing up and learning new skills.
Our instructor Jamie was highly knowledgeable and approachable and struck the perfect balance in delivering a course that was both challenging and rewarding but at the same time a nice holiday for all of us!
This was my second visit in the same summer to Play y Brenin and I will no doubt return for other training opportunities. The centre staff are very helpful and polite and it's a very relaxing place to be after a day of adventure.

Brilliant course :)

Rachel Porter

I thoroughly enjoyed my mountaineering skills course.
I had a fair amount of experience in the hills, but wanted to brush up on my navigation, and be able to use a compass so I could go out into the mountains, mist or not, with confidence.. and also do multiple trips on my own.

I definitely came away with far more skills, and we covered more on the course than I expected - rope work, weather interpretation, emergency techniques, plus advice and discussion about different kit and camping gear.

Our instructor was really good (Harry) and the course well paced, and fun. We had a mixture of lengths of days out, with a two day camping expedition at the end of the week. It worked really well having the trip at the end of the course, because we could then take all we'd learnt 'out into the field', and use the skills. Great fun :)

Plas y Brenin is in a beautiful location, the accommodation and facilities are very good, and the climbing wall was great.

The course was very well taught, enjoyable, and a happy investment.
Thank you

This course takes you from a hill walker to a walker in the mountains

John Short

The course does exactly what it says in the brochure - it takes you from an experienced hill walker to a walker confident in the mountains - I am now able to navigate in the most trying conditions, wildcamp and do basic scrambling. These skills will let me explore monutains over two or three days at a time, be confident in my navigation and enable me to explore away from the well trod paths to give me new perspectives. Excellent instruction.

PS We had atrocious weather but this just made the course more of a challenge and ultimatley will give me even more confidence

Great week Nagivating and Scrambling in Snowdonia


Having done a reasonable amount of hill walking and some long guided treks abroad I was looking to improve my skill levels in more challenging environment. The week did not disappoint starting in ideal sunny conditions on Moel Siabod and becoming increasingly challenging through the week culminating in an East gully assault on Tryfan by Friday.

There were 3 or 4 activities that ran through the week; navigation, scrambling, an over night camp, and weather.

It was my first introduction to the precise navigation required in the mountains and it is something that I shall now practice. We did some great scrambles .. no going up on a path for us. The overnight lakeside camp was great - if a little chilly to stay up after boil in the bag dinner.

We were lucky with weather as although we got wet most days we did also get good views each day. We did see snow at 1000m - but what do you expect in June?

If you are considering this course make sure you bring enough warm clothing .. most other things can be borrowed from the stores which has loads of good quality kit.

Thanks to Matt and the rest of our team for an informative and fun week.

Hard work but an amazing experience!

Carolyn Kendall

Mountaineering skills is a five day course aimed at those who have experienced summer hill walking but have little or no experience of navigation or map work. There's also an introduction to scrambling and basic rope work techniques as well.

The navigation skills are incredibly useful to those who want a better idea of designing and following their own hill walking routes and would suit those who wants to get off the beaten track. The scarmbling and rope work are really exciting, demanding (for those who have never done it before) and, depending on the weather, can be a real step outside of the comfort zone. Even those who were fitter and more confident walkers than me were placed in 'uncomfortable' situations at times!

The group (there were six of us in total, plus the course leader and an occasional 'trainee leader') also took part in a mini expedition that took us into the hills for a night and gave us an experience of wild camping. Some of us were less than comfortable with the idea of using 'the trowel' to go to the bathroom! This part of the expedition was great fun, except when it started throwing it down (as the Welsh weather is wont to do, even in June) when we were putting our tents up, only to brighten up less than fifteen minutes later.

We 'conquered' seven peaks in five days, learned LOADS of new skills, made good friends, got bitten burned and very bruised- I won't be able to wear a dress for a couple of weeks without looking like I've been beaten), so if your previous experience is that of a few hours on the mountain in good weather (as mine was) and you aren't sure of getting involved in some sticky situations try a gentler course before trying this one. If, on the other hand, you are feeling adventurous- get stuck in!

I can't fault Plas y Brenin or Matt (the course guide). The days flew by, although on Wednesday (2 days in), I wasn't sure how much more I could take. Indeed, it is credit to him and the rest of the group that I managed to get my second wind on Thursday and Friday when we attacked Mount Doom (Tryffan) in style. Matt was inspirational but not in a weird 'American' way- he hardly ever used the word 'awesome' for example. He did, however, give you the confidence to try simple climbing techniques and had a neat line in gentle ribbing to get you to see the funny side when you've been walking for seven hours and your legs are about to drop off. I honestly don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow without a mountain to climb!

Oh, and by the way, the food here is amazing. You always have more than enough really tasty food to eat AND if you do the right course you simply can't eat enough to replace all the calories you burn up.
Single girls- remember that (on most weeks) females will be heavily outnumbered by males. So, a holiday where you learn new skills, makes lots of friends, lose weight (whilst eating what you want) and meet loads of men? It's a no brainer really!

A dream becomes a goal when you put a date on it !

Angie Jaleel

So I put a date on it.
I loved outdoor activities when I was in my teens and early 20's . Hill walking , Climbing , Canoeing; even potholing. I thought of doing my Mountain Leader Qualifiation but never quite got round to it.
Somehow I ended up settling In Essex ( must be the flattest county in the country ) having four kids and I forgot how much I needed Hills and Mountains but it was always there in the back of my mind.
I had lost my confidence in Navigation and was not sure how to go about getting out there again and then I thought " i'm sure there is a place in Wales called Plas Y Brenan " ; so I looked it up.
I phoned and asked for advice on which course to do . After a long discussion on my past experiece I decided on Mountain Skills.

Such a good decision . The course was excellent covering Navigation skills on the first day : we all had a bit a brain ache after that. We did scrambling , back packing , wild camping , rope work and a finale of a day scrambling up and down Tryfan .Our tutor for the week , Chris was brilliant . He has that gift of always encouraging , building your confidence and never making you feel stupid.

I had wondered if at 46 years old I was a bit crazy trying to start up an old hobby . Perhaps I am but I am hooked again now and will be out there as often as I can. Infact I think I will finally make a goal of doing my Mountain Leader so Plas y Brenan : expect me back next year . I am getting my diary out now .

great experience

paul mack

Although I had done a fair bit of walking and climbing over the years I was, at the age of 72, becoming wary of trying anything serious - I was losing confidence in my ability to cope. Going on the Mountaineering Skills course seemed a good way of testing myself and my equipment with the knowledge that, if things went wrong the professionals would sort me out.
Well it didn't go wrong and I loved every minute of it, even on the last day when we trudged down off the mountain in pouring rain over seemingly endless bogs. The other guys on the course were good company, the instructors were first rate and the Plas y Brenin centre was wonderfully well run. The days were not particularly strenuous, but we were there to learn skills and not just to wear ourselves out. The instructors seemed to know how to teach us when we wanted it and to leave us alone when we didn't. Great memorable fun.
And did I achieve my objective? Well, at about 6pm on the Friday, at the end of the course, I walked out of Plas y Brenin with 35 lbs on my back and at midday on Saturday was sitting in a cafe near Llanfairfechan having camped overnight in the mountains and walked over many of the highest peaks in the Carneddau.



katie chetwood

Brilliant course content.
The instructers were excellent in experience, communication and friendliness and made it relaxed but also full of learning content, even including extra activities, which was great. The students got to express areas they wanted covering and these were willingly fitted into the course.
Would definitely recommend the course; I would definitely go back to do other courses.

Gave me the confidence to move onwards and upwards!

Jaki Wilson

I did the Mountaineering Skills course in November 2008. Before this, I'd been doing summer hillwalking and organized, group trekking holidays (e.g. with Exodus, up to grade C/D). Most of my summer hillwalks involved following marked trails or detailed walk directions in walking books. I had no map-reading skills whatsoever.
What I wanted to get out of the course was to make the next move beyond the tourist trails and written walks, which just weren't challenging me any more. I wanted to have more freedom to make my own way, with enough skills to give me confidence.
Considering what I set out hoping to gain from the course, it more than exceeded my expectations.
The course was almost entirely practical, with just two short classroom-based sessions in the evenings (one on mountain weather and one on the environment). Apart from those, all our learning was done on the move, out on the hills. Our instructor, Lee Roberts, was fantastic. He got us out and starting to navigate within minutes of lacing up our boots on day one! As the week progressed, we learnt to choose a route, taking the weather into consideration. As Lee always shared his decision-making processes with us, we learnt the factors he took into consideration when choosing the route we'd take each day. He ensured we were all clear on and in agreement with each day's plan of action.
Lee was pretty astutue in how he developed our navigation skills as the week went on, starting off slowly and then gradually building on each day's knowledge and reinforcing what we were learning. By the end of the week, I was really chuffed to find this map-reading caper was beginning to click. With a big grin on my face I realised I was able to tell where I was because I was getting the hang of visualizing how contours on the map looked on the landscape.
I could take a bearing between where I was and where I wanted to go, estimate how far it was and how long it should take me to get there, and I could also pace out the distance.
We were lucky to have had a great mixture of weather, from the hill fog that's great for learning to navigate, to the driving rain and hail that makes you feel like you've made the leap from summer hillwalking to winter terrain.
The course also covered movement on steeper ground, and basic ropework. It was my first experience of scrambling, and it pulled me right out of my comfort zone. The day we concentrated on scrambling was the most adventurous and scary day I'd ever had in the mountains in my life. But Lee's practical advice and skills gave me all the confidence I needed and I never once felt I couldn't do it despite how hairy it felt! Meanwhile it always helped to know that our secondary leader, Barney, was braced behind in case of any slips!
Lee took time to teach me how to walk properly over steep and rocky terrain, from how to kick steps on steep slopes to how to keep your weight centred over your feet to move more confidently over downhill bouldery slopes. I wish I'd done this course a few years ago, but at least I now have a basis to build on.
I learnt so much from Lee, and from Barney, about everything from gear and packing, to camp craft, and got a real kick out of spending my first night in a bothy. Lee went beyond the call of duty to answer all my questions and I'm a good deal wiser for it. It was a fantastic privilege to have experienced brains to pick for once!
So from a learning point of view, the course was brilliant for me. But it also felt like a really great holiday. Lee was great craic, and kept us entertained all week! Staying at Plas y Brenin was a real pleasure, too. The meals were as good as I've had in many a restaurant and there's a real sense of generosity about the place, with the stores lending us bits and pieces along the way and just wee things like free access to the tea/coffee machine all the time - for cup and flask! The rooms were as good as most of the hotels I've stayed in, and what hotel have you ever stayed in that has its own climbing wall, free for guests to use?!
I'd highly recommend both this course and Plas y Brenin.

Excellent all-round course for mountain climbing and trekking

David Bibby

I came to this course with a background in summer hillwalking and some relatively easy mountain climbing, i.e. predictably sunny days and popular routes up straightforward Scottish peaks. I had also done a bit of multi-day trekking, but only camping in campsites and never straying too far from civilisation. I subscribed to this course to expand my horizons, to open up longer, more remote treks across Scotland's bleak Highlands, to give me the confidence in my abilities to navigate successfully and safely up and down difficult mountains in adverse weather conditions, and to be introduced to scrambling - a technique new to me, and one that I avoided previously. A visit to Skye's Black Cuillin in April this year impelled me to learn scrambling, in order to enable me one day to attain these peaks.

In all these respects, this course was ideal. From a gentle introductory day up Moel Siabod, through scrambling up the North Ridge of Tryfan (Grade 1ish) and the West face of the Gribin Ridge, and navigating atop Glyder Fawr and Foel Grach in very thick cloud, to planning and executing a one-night wild camp in the Carneddau, all of my expectations were fulfilled. Additionally, there were evening seminars on basic ropework (as a non-climber, this topic was also new to me), mountain weather (very very informative), and the mountain environment (geology & ecology). Furthermore, the quality of the instructors, particularly our main one, led us to learn a myriad of useful hints and tips throughout the five days.

The centre itself is excellent, from the good, if simple rooms (not much time is spent here!), to the extraordinary amount and quality of the food available from breakfast through packed lunches, to dinner, and the well-stocked bar. There is even a range of single malts at very reasonable prices! The equipment store appeared well stocked for all eventualities, and although not a climber myself, the climbing wall was a much-used facility. And last, but not least here, the setting is simply beautiful. However, we may have been lucky to visit on a relatively mild week, as Capel Curig broke the UK record for a single day's rainfall earlier this year (2008).

The only downsides to the course were firstly that the breadth of skills learnt meant that the necessary middle ground struck by the instructor inevitably was too slow for some and too fast for others across each discipline, and secondly that it had to end!

Overall, this is an excellent course for those wishing to improve their range of skills for mountain climbing and trekking, and I was very impressed with the professional attitude and quality of the instructors and the rest of the centre's functioning. Five stars!

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?

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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.

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