Rock Climbing CompanyAssociation of Mountaineering Instructors

Navigation and Mountaincraft Courses in

Snowdonia and North Wales


Refugio at Frey


Summit of El Jobo in Malaga


Walking to El Corral


Mountain Skills and Navigation



Good mountaincraft and navigation skills are crucial to enjoying and staying safe in the mountains.

Mountaincraft covers a broad range of skills that essentially are built on experience gained from many days in the mountain - we will accelerate the learning process so that you gain that knowledge over a much more condensed time period. These mountain skills include such diverse topics as route planning, access issues, security on steep ground, river crossing and emergency procedures right through to what clothing system works best for you and how to pack a rucksack.

Learning to navigate involves building a multi-layered skill set that ranges from a basic use of the map and compass, through the techniques involved in map interpretation, micro navigation and low visibility navigation to the more advanced topics that use relocation and altimeters.

We can help you gain these skills at all levels of ability.

The information in the tabs below outline the mountaincraft and navigation instruction that we can offer, but this is only a starting point because every persons needs are different - some will want a introduction to navigational techniques so that they can explore more adventurous and wilder places, whilst others will want an advanced refresher prior to taking their MLTA awards.

In addition there are answers to common questions on the General Course Information page



Introduction to Navigation


Mountain walkingThis course is for those who want the map and compass skills needed to move independently and confidently in the hills and mountains of the UK.

We will help you learn the navigation techniques necessary to plan your own trips, so that you can move away from the beaten track whilst understanding the terrain that you will cover and being able to estimate the timings and distances accurately.

Initially we will run over the basic theory behind using a map and compass - map scales/distances, map symbols, map orientation, understanding contours, grid references, bearings and the concepts needed to cope with the three norths - before heading outside to carry out a series of practical exercises on low level ground.

Here we will look at identifying features on fairly flat terrain and then navigating between these features in a straight line; this is to hone the core skills of setting and reading the map, calculating a bearing and distance and then following that bearing. All this time we will try to help you visualise the map as a three dimensional image of the landscape.

We will continue to navigate between features that are fairly close together to consolidate the skills of setting the map, taking a bearing, estimating the distance between the two points and then following the bearing.

Once theses core skills are firmly in place we can look pacing so that you can estimate time and distance over a variety of terrain. Accurate pacing will give you the confidence to move across featureless ground with incredible accuracy

We will try to follow the Bronze NNAS itinerary and often manage to take you beyond it. The Bronze itinerary is as below:

  • Understanding the nature of a map as a two dimensional plan.
  • Understanding map symbols, scales and the underlying principle of the magnetic compass including cardinal points. Ordnance Survey maps at scales of 1:25,000 and 1:50,000,
  • Orientating the map to the ground with and without a compass and using the ‘set’ map to identify features on map and ground, to pinpoint current map position and to make route decisions.
  • The use of linear features (e.g. paths and streams) as handrails in simple navigational exercises using the thumb to indicate position on the map.
  • The ability to judge approximate distances on both map and ground.
  • An appreciation of the relationship between land forms and other distinct objects as indicated on the map. This will involve a basic understanding of the contour system and the ability to match major land forms like hills and valleys to their map images.
  • The ability to plan a safe walk or course in wild country in line with set criteria on duration, difficulty, and objectives.
  • The application of relevant safety procedures to navigation including simple relocation on paths.
  • Knowledge of how Rights of Way are shown on maps and the practicalities of their use in the countryside in harmony with the Country Code and access constraints



Advanced Navigation


WaymarkerMost walkers and climbers will have some familiarity with the principals of using a map and compass, but often lack the core understanding necessary to move confidently to safety when the weather suddenly deteriorates and viability drops.

Using simple techniques we will help build on your existing knowledge so that you to learn how visualise the map as a three dimensional image - in this way the mass of contours and symbols start to become hills, valleys and mountains with unique shapes.

Initially we will hone the core skills of estimating distances whilst taking and following a bearing. Once theses core skills are firmly in place we can look pacing so that you can estimate time and distance over a variety of terrain. Accurate pacing will give you the confidence to move across featureless ground with incredible accuracy.

We also explain the concept of micro-navigation and teach you some basic relocation techniques. These key relocation techniques teach you a variety of skills so that you can work out where you are when you think you are unsure of your position. This lets you either work out your precise position or teaches you how to move safely to a point where you can do so.

We like to run this course over 2 consecutive days as we find this more effective than two separate one day courses.

We will try to follow the Silver NNAS itinerary and often manage to take you beyond it. The Silver itinerary is as below:

  • The ability to plan a safe walk or course.
  • The ability to use a compass for accurate bearings and the checking of footpath direction, including an introduction to different types of compasses and their workings.
  • The ability to judge distance accurately by step-counting between given points.
  • The ability to ‘break down’ a navigational stage into coarse and fine navigation i.e. the coarse section could easily involve easy handrail navigation along a path while the fine section could require accurate map reading and use of the compass to execute a subtle route where no clear linear feature exists.
  • The ability to choose an appropriate attack point as an obvious starting point for the fine sections of a stage and to use clear features en route to confirm that you are on course.
  • Understanding the use of navigational strategies, such as aiming off to hit a chosen point on a linear feature [e.g. bridge over a stream.]
  • Understanding the physical factors that affect your choice of a route e.g. height gain or loss (Naismith’s rule), the severity of terrain or vegetation, the degree of difficulty in executing the chosen route and the ability to decide on an effective route in the light of the experience and navigational experience of the participants.
  • Understanding how to implement simple relocation strategies when lost - i.e. heading for the nearest known point for precise location or choosing a safe route to a linear feature.
  • Understanding of the effects of fatigue and physical discomfort brought on by navigational activity in open countryside and/or extreme weather conditions, including recognition of the symptoms of hypothermia and hypothermia and their treatment.
  • An understanding of the formal and de facto rules governing access to the countryside.





This two day mountaincraft course will give you the skills and confidence to explore the hills and mountains of Britain independently. The skills covered will include: Mountain navigation, route planning, equipment, emergency procedures and movement on steep ground.

We will be spend most of each day exploring Snowdonia's mountains whilst learning and practicing the skills required to confidently plan, pack, and walk in the mountains whilst keeping yourself and any colleagues safe.

Topics covered normally include

Map scales, signs, symbols. .
Grid references, distances, terrain, gradients and topographical features

Compass work
Grid and magnetic bearings.
Plotting compass courses from the ground and map.
Calculating a position using back bearings (resection)
Navigating with a map and compass.
Night Navigation
Alternative technologies: GPS units and Altimeters

Route planning
Choice of route.
Planning a route with bearings, distances, estimated times and bad weather / emergency alternatives.

Personal equipment and clothing
Emergency equipment
Hill food and and the importance of hydration.
Camping equipment
Camp craft.

Moving through mountainous country
Techniques for moving over steep ground, simple rope techniques and moving on loose ground.
River crossings
Mountain hazards, hypothermia, heat exhaustion, dehydration, environmental hazards and lightning. Weather
Forecasts, Information sources, weather charts, cloud formations.

Environmental awareness
Access and access agreements



Equipment provided by the Rock Climbing Company: We will provide all technical equipment needed for any work on steep ground including ropes, climbing equipment plus a helmet and harness for each client. We tend to use the relevant OS 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 maps and can back this up with a GPS so that the days track can be downloaded at the end of the day for further analysis.

What you need to provide: You will need to provide suitable clothing for the time of year; this can vary from a full set of waterproofs and a multitude of thermals to shorts, sunglasses and sun cream. The key is to come prepared for anything. Always bring spare socks, hats and gloves - little things that keep your extremities warm and you comfortable.

You will likely be tramping over a variety of terrain so bring good. supportive boots that have been weatherproofed and are well broken in.

You will need a decent compass (Silva Type 4 or similar) and the relevant maps. Walking poles can be useful in helping lower the stresses on your knees.

Finally you will also need rucksack to carry everything in (30 - 40 litre capacity) and plenty of (hot) food and drink for the day. Isotonic drinks work well especially on hot days.

What is not included. Prices do not include, transport, accommodation, meals or personal insurance.

Ratios and course sizes. The Mountaincraft and Navigation courses can be taught at ratios of 1 - 4 clients to 1 instructor.

Prices. A list of all prices are found below: All prices include VAT.

Type of Course
Cost per person
Mountaincraft and Navigation Courses in Snowdonia
1 Day Course
2 Day Course


The full terms and conditions are on the booking page

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information



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