Learn to stay safe and enjoy your time on the hill with a Mountain Training skills course
For the inexperienced, walking in the hills can be an intimidating prospect. To help you stay safe and make your time in the hills even more enjoyable, it is important to learn some basic skills and expertise to help you on your way.
We spoke to Mountain Training's Graham Uney, who told us what to expect from their hill and mountain skills courses.
What is the Hill & Mountain Skills scheme all about? What's it useful for?
The Hill and Mountain Skills scheme is a great introduction to all the skills necessary for walkers to be safe and enjoy their time on the moors, hills and mountains of the UK.
Who goes on the courses?
My own clients on these courses tend to be either complete hill walking beginners who have perhaps done some lowland, countryside walks, and want to progress onto higher things (for the Hills Skills courses), or those who have climbed a few hills and want to learn more skills so that they can tackle higher mountains (for the Mountain Skills courses)
What sort of experience do people need?
For the Hills Skills courses people can enter the scheme without any prior hillwalking experience at all, while for the Mountain Skills courses it is useful if participants already have a little experience of days spent in the hills.
What happens on the courses, are they all about navigation?
For our courses we meet on the first evening for an indoor session where we have introductions, then look at different types of map and scales, discuss the weather forecast for the weekend and how this might affect our choice of routes, and also talk about personal clothing and equipment. We then have two full days out in the hills covering all aspects of the syllabus, including hazards, emergency procedures, nutrition, personal walking skills and fitness, the environment, conservation, and of course navigation.
Where do you run them? Are there courses in other parts of the country?
Our courses are run throughout Snowdonia and Mid Wales, as well as occasional courses in the Shropshire Hills too. There are courses throughout the UK run by other approved providers.
Are they expensive?
Our courses currently cost £110 per person, plus the Mountain Training registration fee (£20).
What's the best thing about running Hill & Mountain Skills courses?
I love teaching people outdoor skills, especially as it allows me to work outside in all types of weather at all times of the year. Seeing people develop from being an absolute novice to a confident hillwalker or mountaineer gives me a real buzz, and a personal sense of achievement.
What's your favourite walking route in Snowdonia?
Too many to choose from, but I love exploring my local mountains in south Snowdonia, especially Cadair Idris and Aran Fawddwy.
Yes, on recent Hill and Mountain Skills scheme courses my candidates have been treated to blue skies, wind, hail, rain, and glorious sunsets, sometimes all in the same day, and we've even seen the odd Brocken spectre and a fog bow too (like a rainbow that appears in fog)!
Graham Uney is the author of several walking guidebooks, and owns the walking company Wild Walks Wales. He has twenty years' experience of running skills courses all over the UK for hill and mountain walkers, and is a course provider of the Hill and Mountain Skills Scheme, the Lowland Leader Award and the Expedition Skills Module for Mountain Training. He also runs guided walks and rock climbing taster days too. For more info see his Wild Walks Wales website.
Mountain Training's aim is to educate and train people in walking, climbing and mountaineering. We have developed the Hill & Mountain Skills scheme for beginner and novice hill walkers so that they can be confident about planning and safely enjoying their own walks.
There are providers the length and breadth of the country who deliver these courses on behalf of Mountain Training and they run throughout the year. We also administer a range of nationally-recognised mountain leadership, instruction and coaching awards, such as the Mountain Leader andClimbing Wall Award.