The Hill Skills course is your key to getting started in countryside and moorland walking. No previous hill walking experience is required because the content of the course is aimed at beginners.
If you do have some experience of hill walking but aren’t confident about planning walks, navigating and understanding the equipment required, then the Hill Skills course is an ideal way to learn.
Delivered by our qualified and experienced mountain professionals, the course is nationally accredited and developed with Mountain Training, the awarding body for qualifications in walking, climbing and mountaineering.
The courses takes place entirely outdoors and cover a range of topics including what clothes you should wear, what equipment you should carry with you, how to plan your day out, what routes you can take, understanding the weather, how to navigate using paper and digital mapping and dealing with emergencies in the outdoors. You can view the full syllabus in the FAQs below. Our experienced instructors will share their knowledge with you and answer any questions you have about exploring the hills and mountains of the UK.
Each day begins with a short ‘classroom’ session over breakfast at The Penny Pot Cafe in Edale in the heart of the Peak District. The group will discuss the plan for the day, look at the weather forecast and talk about clothing and equipment before heading out to continue the learning in the local hills. The end of the day finishes with cake back at the cafe whilst the group recaps the day.
Public courses take place throughout the year or if there’s three or more of you in your party you can pick your own date. Book online using the live availability checker or contact us to find out more.
You might also be interested in our Mountain Skills courses in Snowdonia.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Great question! There’s actually not a huge difference between the syllabus for the Hill Skills and the Mountain Skills courses. The main difference is the terrain in which they take place and what they’re designed to prepare you for.
If you plan on walking mainly in lowland or hill and moorland areas then the Hill Skills course in the Peak District is for you. If you’d like to explore the mountains of the UK then the Mountain Skills course in Snowdonia will be more suited.
Absolutely! Children aged ten and over are welcome on our Mountain Training Hill and Mountain Skills courses when accompanied by a parent, guardian or carer. Discounted prices are available for children aged 10-15 and for family groups.
Both the Hill Skills and Mountain Skills courses take place over two consecutive days and typically run from around 9am to 5pm each day (with a little bit of homework in between!) The aim is to enjoy the weekend and the pace reflects this. Each day starts with a short ‘classroom’ session before heading out into the hills for the practical element.
Our Hill Skill course takes place in the heart of the Peak District in the small village of Edale. Only around an hour’s drive from Manchester or Sheffield and easily accessible from the M1 for London and the North, the Peak District is perfectly located in the middle of the country.
Many people choose to make a weekend of it and there are lots of accommodation choices around the area. You won’t find any big five star hotels so we recommend sites like booking.com and airbnb.co.uk to seek out a local gem. In the summer there are numerous camping options in and around the village too.
Each day begins and ends at the fabulous Penny Pot Cafe where Chris and his team offer homemade cakes, delicious snacks and hot and cold drinks (and local ice creams when the sun comes out to play).
If you’d like to stay over and make a weekend of it (always recommended!) then there are a few very local accommodation options available:
- The Rambler Inn is the pub just around the corner from where the course meets. It has nine en-suite rooms available as well as a one bedroom cottage.
- The Old Nags Head is just a short walk away in the centre of Edale and offers two small cottages which would ideally suit couples, families and small groups.
- Fieldhead Campsite is a small 45 pitch site again just a few minutes walk from where we meet. It’s a bit ‘rustic’ (there’s no electricity, wifi or even phone signal!) but it’s a lovely little site to get away from it all.
- Newfold Farm in the centre of the village (a five minute walk) welcomes tents as well as campervans and caravans or you can book to stay in one of their luxury bell tents. They also have a cafe and make great pizza at weekends!
If you have a car then you can also look for accommodation in nearby Castleton, Hope, Hathersage and other surrounding villages and small towns. Use your favourite accommodation booking website such as booking.com or airbnb.co.uk and search for ‘Edale’.
You’ll need outdoor kit for a whole weekend in the hills whatever the weather! You’ll also need an Ordnance Survey 1:25 000 Explorer map for the Dark Peak area (OL1). If you happen to have an OS 1:50 000 Landranger (110) or Harvey Peak District Central map then bring them along but don’t go out and buy them specially. The only one you definitely need is the OS OL1 map. You’ll also need a compass. We recommend the Silva Expedition 4 but any long-edged compass will do the job.
Remember to bring enough food and drink with you to last the whole weekend and some money for breakfasts and cakes!
There’s a full kit list below. Please have a look at the weather before setting off and dress accordingly. Better to have an extra fleece and woolly hat in your bag just in case. Remember we’ll be outdoors all weekend in all weathers so be sure to have the right gear. If it’s looking wet then keeping spares clothes to change into in your car is also a good idea.
- Comfortable hill walking clothing – personal base layers and trousers (not jeans)
- Waterproof jacket with hood
- Waterproof trousers (separate to your walking trousers)
- Spare warm/fleece jacket
- Walking boots or walking trainers
- Comfortable walking socks
- Warm hat and gloves or sun hat and sun screen (weather dependent)
- Vacuum flask for hot drink and/or re-usable water bottle
- Personal first aid kit and personal medication
- Ordnance Survey 1:25 000 Explorer map for the Dark Peak area (OL1)
- Compass (long-edge type such as the Silva Expedition 4)
- Day walk rucksack – approx. 20-25 litres
- Packed lunch and snacks for each day
You can get hold of OS maps direct from Ordnance Survey or from any book store including Amazon but we recommend Dash4It – the map superstore. They guarantee the latest maps at the cheapest prices all with free delivery. They also stock a wide range of compasses.
The Hill Skills course requires a moderate level of fitness. It is a practical course where you will be walking for a good part of each day, and learning along the way. Any health issues should be talked through with your instructor prior to the start of the course.
Of course. The requirements for the Hill and Mountain Skills courses are set out by Mountain Training, the awarding body for qualifications in walking, climbing and mountaineering and can be found below. Don’t be too worried if you don’t understand all the terminology as that’s what our instructors are there for but it might help you decide which level to start at.
- Overview of the hill and moorland walking areas of the UK and Ireland
- Use of walking guidebooks and online resources
- Route planning
- Health and fitness considerations for hill walking
- Walking techniques and additional equipment
- Managing pace for a day walk
- Nutritional considerations for hill walking
- Movement skills over undulating or loose terrain
- Hill clothing overview
- Footwear selection
- Equipment selection and functions
- Seasonal differences in clothing and equipment selection
- Additional emergency equipment
- Effect of weather in the hills
- Obtaining an appropriate weather forecast
- Effect of weather on route planning
- Introduction to different maps and scales
- Introduction to basic map features and symbols
- Measurement of distance on maps
- Calculating walking time
- Use of Grid References
- Introduction to pacing and timing
- Strategies for navigating a planned route
- Compass selection and features
- Methods of relocating
- Introduction of basic use of GPS devices
- Understand the impact of humans in hill areas
- Gain an understanding of the upland environment
- Environmental considerations when walking
- Good practice associated with hill walking
- Understanding the role of different organisations
- Identifying potential hazards in hill areas
- Managing risk while hill walking
- Gaining an understanding of common hill walking incidents related to hill walking
- How to call for help while in hill areas
- Introduction to the role of Search & Rescue teams