Mountaineering & Expeditions

Mountaineering Courses In The UK | 7 Of The Best To Get You Started

If you are new to mountaineering, you will want to sign up to a mountaineering course - but where is the best place to start in the UK?

Mountaineering courses in the UK are mainly run in Scotland and Wales. Photo: iStock

Mountaineering courses in the UK mainly run in the Scotland and Wales, however there are courses you can do in other regions around the UK.

As we’ve explained before, mountaineering is a broad field – it can include anything from hill walking near London to winter mountaineering in the Alps and trekking up Everest.

There are two different types of courses you can do in mountaineering: skills based courses to improve your own personal mountaineering skills and instructor courses to help you lead expeditions and guide others around the mountains

If you are just getting into mountaineering, read our beginners introduction to mountaineering.


Mountaineering courses in the UK depend on whether you want to progress personally or learn to become a mountaineering instructor. Photo: iStock

Which mountaineering course you should choose totally depends on what you are interested in pursuing first. You can take courses in summer hiking and navigation, rock climbing, scrambling, winter mountaineering, winter climbing and ice climbing.

Needless to say, it’s best to hone your summer skills first before embarking on the winter courses.

Learning to climb? Check out our climbing tips for beginners here.


Peak Mountaineering run mountaineering courses in the Peak District for people of all ages and skills. 

Summitreks have a great winter skills course in the Lake District which will introduce you to navigating in the winter as well as how to use ice axes and crampons.


Glenmore Lodge is in the heart of the Cairngorms in Scotland. They run a full range of mountaineering courses from basic to advanced in both summer and winter.

Moran Mountain run winter mountaineering and climbing courses in Scotland, as well as ice climbing courses in Norway and guided treks to the Indian Himalayas.

Mountaineering courses can be found in places like Scotland and Wales. Photo: iStock


Plas Y Brenin have over 60 years experience guiding and teaching people about everything from hill walking, navigation to First Aid and mountaineering in Wales.

Snowdonia Adventures can provide you with guided winter mountaineering and climbing in Snowdonia North Wales.


Tollymore National Outdoor Centre have a range of mountaineering and rock climbing courses based in Newcastle, County Down.


Mountain Training run mountaineering instructor courses in the UK. Photo: iStock

Mountain Training is the main body that oversees the training of walking, climbing and mountaineering leaders, coaches and guides in the UK.

They have five branches – the main UK hub as well branches in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Here is a great graphic produced by Mountain Training to explain what it takes to become a mountaineering instructor and guide.

Mountain Training is the recognised body for mountaineering qualifications in the UK. Graphic: Mountain Training

You need to first start with gaining your Mountain Leader award. It’s a six-day course that will allow you to lead groups in the mountains in the UK and Ireland.

Before you sign up, you need to have logged a minimum of 20 Quality Mountain Days (you can find out what that actually means on the Mountain Training FAQs)

Then it’s a case of logging another 20 more Quality Mountain Days after you finish the course to validate your qualification, among other requisites.

From there, you can take other courses to become a Winter Mountain Leader and International Mountain Leader.

Climbing is an essential part of mountaineering. Photo: iStock

Climbing is a separate strand of training – starting with the Single Pitch Award – but will become necessary if you want to become a mountaineering instructor.

To become a mountaineering instructor, you will need to have completed the Mountaineering Instructor Award and Winter Mountain Leader qualification.

Alongside this you need to have 20 winter quality mountain days as a leader, plus led winter climbs at Grade 3 or above and logged 10 routes at Grade 2 or above and 10 routes at Grade 3 or above in at least 3 main mountain areas of the UK.

Becoming a British Mountain Guide is another big step up. There are 107 training and assessment days in total. It takes around three years to complete.

You need to have an extremely high skill level in both summer and winter rock climbing, ski instructing, guiding cascade ice climbs and evaluating avalanche risk.

Read our interview with Kenton Cool, once described by Sir Ranulph Fiennes as the “best mountain guide in the world”.

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