01690 720214

Welsh Winter Hillwalking

Course Overview

Designed for those with some hillwalking experience who want to travel the mountains confidently at a time of year when the length of day may make visibility uncertain. The winter time offers great opportunities for developing navigation and safety skills in the mountains. The course also includes an introduction to ice axe and crampon technique.
Please Note: The Welsh winter can be fickle, and snow and ice conditions cannot be guaranteed. Throughout the course we will have a flexible approach to the programme to make the best possible use of the prevailing conditions. If there is no snow the course will still run.

Experience Required

some summer hillwalking.

Scheduled Dates

Detailed Course Notes

You should be 18 years old to attend this course.

Is it for me?

This course is for anyone who wants to take their summer hill walking a step further, and discover the delights of winter walking in the UK. No previous experience of winter hillwalking is necessary, however you should have some summer hillwalking experience. As winter days can be strenuous, a reasonable level of fitness is important.

Course Content

We plan to be out on the hill each day, and during a mountain journey we will look at the following areas:

  • Terrain + route choice

  • Winter navigation

  • Hazard avoidance

  • Dealing with incidents

  • Use of ice axe and crampons

Theory sessions in the early evening will support the practical days out, and may include:

  • Snow and avalanche hazard

  • Winter mountaineering equipment

  • Cold injuries and snow shelters

The Welsh winter can be fickle, and snow and ice conditions cannot be guaranteed. Throughout the course we will have a flexible approach to the programme to make the best possible use of the prevailing conditions. If there is no snow the course will still run.

Useful Books

  • Scotland's Winter Mountains by Martin Moran
  • Handbook of climbing by Fyffe and Peter
  • Mountain Navigation by Peter Cliff
  • Hillwalking by Steve Long (MT official publication)
  • Rock Climbing by Libby Peter (MT 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 e.g. walking trousers, thermals/base layers, fleeces, good quality walking socks

  • Warm hat, balaclava (if you have one), neck gaiter/buff

  • Gloves and mitts - 1 pair to wear and 1 for spare plus mitts to go over the top (if you have them)

  • Mountaineering boots B2 or B3 - if you don't have B2 or B3 boots then bring your normal walking boots for any days you don't need crampons

  • Crampons (with anti-balling plate)

  • Ice Axe

  • Helmet

  • Harness (for Mountaineering and Winter Ridges courses only)

  • Gaiters (optional)

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers

  • Day rucksack 30-40 litres

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

  • Drinks bottle

  • Flask

  • Lunch bag/box

  • Personal first aid kit

  • Blister kit

  • Head torch and spare batteries

  • Snow googles (if you have them if not sunglasses)

  • 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 points 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 and but them. If you are wishing to borrow any of these items please ensure you return your equipment loan form. Download your equipment loan form here.

  • Walking boots/mountaineering boots (B2/B3)

  • Day rucksack

  • Gaiters (optional)

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers

  • Compass

  • Crampons

  • Ice axe

  • Helmet

  • Harness

Customer Reviews For This Course

Welsh Winter Hillwalking


The accommodation was excellent and kept to a high standard. The food was very good for this type of activity holiday. A nice bar overlooking the lake proved a great area for a 'get together' at the end of the day. The staff were genuine in wanting to help with enquiries. The administration both prior and during the course could be improved slightly, but this is an active place and any shortcomings in this area are understandable. The course itself was excellent it delivered what it described and more. The instructor was extremely capable, knowledgeable and pushed me to and at times beyond my comfort zone. I have returned home wiser with loads of new skills (and without a single bruise on my body). Thanks to her these new skills will open up many opportunities for me. I will now travel more confidently not only on the hillside in all weathers but also more widely. If you are female, slightly over 50, of reasonable fitness reading this I would highly recommend this course. It is physical and at times a little stressful but the knowledge and skills gained will more than compensate. Maybe have a one to one chat with an instructor beforehand. I would have got more out of the course if I had spoken to somebody first.

Amazing introduction to winter hillwalking!

Xiaosu Jiang

The course was brilliant. By the end, we were reasonably confident in walking up steep snowy/icy inclines with crampons and ice axe. The scramble up Tryfan was tricky but really satisfying. Learning how to use the rope in the hills was great fun. It far exceeded my expectations!
Everyone at Plas y Brenin were really friendly and helpful, especially our instructor. The food was fantastic, and just what you need when you spend all day trekking in the snow. The accommodation was clean and comfortable.
All in all, a great experience. I would highly recommend it to all those interested in hillwalking.

Winter Hillwalking

Janet Greenslade

This 5 day course was thoroughly enjoyable.
The staff at the centre who took us out on the hills were extremely professional and very knowledgeable.
I was impressed with their patience, positivity and "can do" attitude.
The accommodation is clean and comfortable. The catering staff were pleasant and the range of food available was very good.
I learned new skills from day 1 through to day 5, and brushed up on others that had been lodged in deepest darkest recesses.
I was taken out of my comfort zone in such a way that I found myself on one afternoon at the top of the climbing wall, something I had not anticipated or expected to complete - I have a particularly bad fear of heights, but after the initial shock wore off, I had a euphoric feeling of achievement such as I have not felt for many years.
Well done Dino and huge thanks to Paul for 2 fantastic days out.


Rhys Owen

Course was great. Really enjoyed. Was at the right level, with the rightt balance of theory and time on the mountain. Matt stygal is a good instructor and delivered it well.

The auxillary staff were great also in the reception and canteen, everyone was very friendly and helpful. Room was lovely clean and tidy.

it was amazing


This course has shown me the parts of snowdonia I always wanted to see. It took me out of my comfort zone and I have learned and have been given the confidence to go of the beaten track.
I worked hard on my general fitness at home, with walking, mountainbiking, gym etc. I would like to advise to add some walks with a heavy pack. My full pack was between 10-12 kg with crampons and helmet etc every day. I'm only small so this is something I will include for the other courses I want to do. You don't have to be a hero,but some welsh walking experience is recommended.
Thank you to ALL the staff at Brenin. You have made me very welcome and I can't wait to visit you all again.

great experience-a challenge but rewarding 5 days

Julie Nedin

The 5 days spent on the hills from 23-27th January were an inspiration. Our instructor, James, hit just the right note for me. He's a clear communicator, encouraging and supportive at the right level for an adult learner. And I certainly had a lot to learn, especially navigation skills. James had the grace not to laugh when I headed off in the opposite direction on the first navigation task of the last day! Yes, lots more to learn but I'm motivated to practice and plan to get out onto the Brecon Beacons next weekend to do just that.

I found the Centre very comfortable and friendly and have recommended it already to lots of people. I have even made the pyb flapjacks from the recipe on the site. They went down a storm in work, not bad accolade from a bunch of NHS dietitians who are very keen on their grub! In fact they have demanded more so I better get back to the cooker, but not before another walk. Can't stop now- James it's all your fault,
many thanks
diolch yn fawr iawn

Great Course for brushing up on winter skills

Stewart McWilliams

Was a great course with superb instructors. Even though there was no snow I still learnt alot about crampon use, winter navigation and had a great day out in on Glyder Fawr on the Sunday.Would recommend.

I'll be back!

Adam Turner

An absolutely great week, I was sad to leave!

Although we didn't have a lot of snow, our instructor found some regardless, allowing us to practice all of the neccessary skills. I have never learnt so much in the space of one week. The evening talks were also enjoyable and informative.

The centre itself is fantastic, with good facilites such as the drying rooms after a day of rain! And the food was amazing!! All the members of staff that I spoke to during my stay were all really friendly.

All in all I would not hesitate to return, a fantastic week!

Welsh Winter Skills Jan 30/31

Brian Clieve

What a fantastic weekend.
On Saturday, learnt lots of new skills, use of crampons and ice axe, self arrest. Spent about 5 hours practice in brilliant sunshine and different snow conditions. Lots of good info about kit and staying safe on winter mountains.
On Sunday, we put it all into practice for real. We were hit by a full blown blizzard whilst ridge walking - quite scary, but very satisfying to know that you can cope after the training on Saturday.

Instructors were great, food was great, beer even better, fantastic value for money, especially with your 15% discount voucher at Cotswold Outdoor! I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to get to grips with winter walking.

P.S. Thanks to my wife for buying me this as a wonderful Christmas present XXX

Plas y Brenin was a fantastic centre


having done a little winter walking and realised I needed the right 'kit' - and how to use it safely I booked on this with my two sons. I had fairrly high expectations, but expected something quite institutional and formal. Instead I had two days of real quality advice and experience from two leaders who lived and breathed what they were talking about as well as two really FUN days.
Of course the weather helped - day one was cold, with good snow and ice - and sunshine, whilst day two gave us everything, from white out, wind and snow to sun, allowing us to practice what was learned the day before for real.

I was suprised at the high instructor / pupil ration (1 to 6), which made for real personal tuition.

For anyone considering learning how to walk safely in winter conditions, this course is a must - I cannot speak more highly of it.

I should add too that Plas y Brenin was a fantastic centre, and the facilities and food were great (and I am quite fussy).


Carl Sprake

Having done some hill walking during spring summer and autumn, and a little bit during the winter, I chose this course to build on my current skills and learn new information that would ensure I am able to make the correct decisions to stay safe on the hills during the winter. Since the course content includes some ice axe and crampon work I was hoping for a bit of snow and ice. I wasn't expecting the whole country to be covered in white stuff though.

Having established what all the course participants wanted to get out of the course the instructors led us over the slopes of Snowdonia imparting knowledge as and when relevant situations arose. All the staff were extremely helpful and willing to offer advice on all aspects of walking and gear choice.

We experienced the whole spectrum of conditions from complete white out to glorious sunshine atop snow covered mountains to torrential downpours. Throughout it all we were learning - both from the instructors and each other, as well as having fun.

The course information mentions taking summer hillwalking further and that a reasonable fitness level is required. This week certainly took summer hillwalking further - almost to the point of winter mountaineering given the amount of snow and ice there was around. Because of the snow the going was often very hard work so I would say that being fit would be a huge advantage.

In summary; an absolutely excellent week, a huge thanks to Mike and Spike for all their support and encouragement. PYB is a fantastic venue with excellent facilities. The accomodation and food was tremendous.

If you haven't got kit like ice axe, crampons, etc, don't go out and buy them, as practically everything can be borrowed from stores - with lots of free advice and help with fitting.

I can't wait to go back and am already looking at which course to do next.

What a week!

Denise Pallett

Had a great time, PYB is a fantastic place, with lots of friendly people willing to offer help and advice. Learnt lots on the course and had the full range of weather to learn in, still snowy days, white outs, howling gales and glorious sunshine, oh and of course - the obligatory Welsh rain. The course description suggests some summer hillwalking - I found the level of fitness required to be much higher than I thought, walking through deep snow, thawing slush and icy paths is incredibly tiring. So thanks to Mike and Spike for their patience and hints and tips that you wouldn't find in a guide book. As well as learning lots (including about myself, I never thought I could be so tired!) the course has also improved my confidence in many areas. A great way to spend 5 days!

Very enjoyable course

Martin Walters

Very good course, I enjoyed it very much. The standard of tution was very good, and presentation of the information with the right mixture of facts and demonstration. This was followed by plenty of well guided practice. The whole group got on very well, and all asked qustions that were expertly answered by the trainers.

The standard of equipmen availasble to couse members was very good with all course members getting correctly fittting boots and crampons.

All the staff were both friendly and very helpful.

The food was very good and quanities more than enough.

A couple of minor things that could be done better are :-
1) I would have liked some tomatoes available for the packed lunch.
2) I would have liked to hasve had a daily de-brief session with the cakes.

I enjoyed the course so much that I will be booking another one latter this year.

Winter Skills Weekend


Myself and some friends booked onto the weekend Winter Skills course at the last minute in February 09. I have to say, I wasn't sure what to expect as there was not forecast to be much snow around - which one would think was essential for the course. However they have an excellent set up in the woods in which to practice using crampons, and the 2nd day we walked up high and found some snow slopes after all. The tuition by Helen and Tamsin was excellent, as was the availability of equipment to hire, included in the course price. Accommodation was fine and the meals were good. Overall - an excellent course.


Gareth Pursey

I was luck to go on the 5 day course in the middle of the snow storms so had the perfect weather.
The centre is very well run, comfortable and friendly, and the staff all seem to love their jobs! well what an office to work in.
I got a lot more from the course than i was expecting so was very happy and will be booking another course very soon.
Thankyou to PYB and especially Helen our instructor who was very patient with us even when our crampons came off for the third time!
Thanks again, Gareth.

Welsh winter course

Adam Newson

This is a really good little course, perfect as a bridge between summer hillwalking and winter walking/easy mountaineering. We were lucky to have lots of snow and ice and it meant we could practice a lot of stuff - I don't know what the course is like without snow on the ground.
But basically everything at PYB is done well and this was no excpetion.

what a fantastic weekend of snowy antic!!! thanks ;0)

David Shelley

The Wels Winter skills course was all I hoped for and much much more!!
I learnt alot and my confidence on the snow has gone up ten fold.
the location the training took place in was amazing, the instructors were very confident and compitent they helped us in going further and doing more than we had ever gone before. the centre it self was fantastic and the food was the best and plenty of it.

Thanks Plas y Brenin for the best weekend ever!!


An amazing experience


First off, thanks to all the staff at PYB, not just the instructors but all the people working behind the scenes to make this such an amazing experience.

This course far exceeded my expectations. The instructors taught us 'on the go' so we didn't have to spend too much time in the class room and were able to put what we'd learnt straight into practice. As pupils, we set the pace and the intructors were happy to follow. Having said that, don't turn up expecting this to be a 'walk in the park', it is at times physically and mentally challenging if you are not used to this type of activity. I myself enjoyed this challenge and feel much better for having completed this course. l now have a greater knowledge and more confidence to take on the hills at this time of year.

With special thanks to Steve, Ben and Ollie.

What a brilliant week


Thanks very much to everyone at PYB. I've just come back from a week of winter mountains and it was excellent fun. We learnt loads, ate loads, drunk loads and made some good friends. The food at PYB is excellent which makes it even more enjoyable. Thanks to the instructors who had to put up with me all week. Will definitely return.

A fantastic week

SImon Whitehead

This was my first visit and I was very impressed the quality of the instructors (and by their patience). The centre was much more comfortable and welcoming than I had imagined and the food and beer (even as a real ale fan) was superb. I learned a lot but had an amazing time learning it.

I was lucky enough to pick a cold, crisp week of blue skies and snowy mountains though, which I'm sure makes a huge difference. So five stars for Plas y Brenin but five stars for the weather man too.


Catherine Over

Just what I was looking for. Tons of great walking in good company. I learned a great deal, but most of all I just enjoyed a very different holiday.

The centre is an amazing place. Really comfortable and the food is excellent. But the cakes... oh the cakes....they're too damn good! I'm sure I came back a stone heavier.

Exhausted but delighted

Emily Perkins

At 56 I think I overestimated my fitness a little but most people in the group (a real mix of ages, shapes and sizes) were either very understanding or just as tired themselves. Thanks to patient and encouraging leaders I lasted the five days but I'm not sure that I could have attempted a sixth day. One of the leaders let me into the secret about the bath which lies in a lone, detached room in a far distant corridor. So instead of showering in my room, I sneaked off for a long hot soak after dinner each day. It felt rather naughty but it was wonderful to sooth my aching limbs in a hot bath. Lovely.
We had all kinds of weather during the week and I learned a lot. I learned things I didn't expect to about the plants and rock formations/landscape too as the leaders were always throwing in comments which made it all extremely interesting (and gave me a chance to get my breath back).
I will come back in the future but next time I will get out and do a bit of hiking beforehand just to get my legs into shape.

I was delighted with the week as a whole and impressed with the Plas y Brenin Mountain Centre. It was nothing like the outward bound centre I had envisaged.

Not found what you were looking for?

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

Fill in a Callback Form

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