What is the Mountain Leader qualification?

The Mountain Leader award was established to promote the safe enjoyment of the hills and mountains. The scheme provides training and assessment in the technical and group management skills required by those who wish to lead groups in the mountains, hills and moorlands of the United Kingdom and Ireland, other than in winter conditions. It integrates experience, training and assessment in what could be challenging and testing conditions in mountainous country.

The scope of the award.

The Mountain Leader award trains and assesses candidates in the skills required to lead others on walks in the lowlands, hills and mountains of the UK and Ireland. The scheme does not cover the skills required for the planned use of a rope.


Course programme (Training)

The Mountain Leader training is a 6 day course. The programme below is an example of how your course will look. Due to weather conditions and unique circumstances may require the order to be changed however the content will remain the same. 

Day 1, Introductions and Navigation Skills

On day one time will be spent in the morning introducing and getting to know the staff and other candidates on the course. There will be an overview of the Mountain Leader pathway and a recap on what the next 6 days have in store. The majority of the day will be spent out on the hill developing micro navigation skills. 

Day 2, Security on Steep Ground

As a Mountain Leader it is possible that you find yourself operating on steep terrain. Day two will look at the techniques and tactics associated with leading and support group members in this environment. The use of ropes will be explored and how these can be used to safeguard and support members of your group.

Day 3, Environmental hazards and emergency procedures

Today will be a combination of presentations and practical. We will look at medical emergencies, the rescue services and water hazards.

Day 4, Mountain Day

Today is all about planning and leading a quality mountain day in the mountains. As such, you’ll be involved in planning a day out in the mountains and you’ll take turns leading the group and get the opportunity to put into practice the various skills you have learned thus far on the course.

Day 5- 6, Mountain Expedition

The last two days of the course will involve planning and undertaking an overnight expedition. This will involve being self sufficient for two days and one night. There will also be an opportunity to undertake so night navigation practice

Pre requisites
  • You must be registered on the scheme
  • You must have recorded a minimum of 20 Quality Mountain Days (ideally on DLOG) which can have taken place at any point (pre- or post-registration, see below for a definition)

In terms of experience, the quality of a mountain day lies in such things as the conditions experienced both overhead and underfoot, the exploration of new areas, the terrain covered and the physical and mental challenge. Such days make a positive contribution towards a person’s development and maturity as an all round mountaineer.

Usually some or all of these criteria would be fulfilled:

  • the individual takes part in the planning and leadership
  • navigation skills are required away from marked paths
  • experience must be in terrain and weather comparable to that found in UK and Irish hills
  • knowledge is increased and skills practised
  • attention is paid to safety
  • five hours or more journey time
  • adverse conditions may be encountered
  • ascent of a substantial peak would normally be included in the day

These criteria mean that days as a course member under instruction (for example on a training course or military exercise), assisting a qualified leader, as a member of a group practising skills, or days spent repeating familiar routes are very unlikely to meet the requirements of a Quality Mountain Day.

Do I need to register with Mountain Training?

Yes you will need to register

To do so click here

How do I complete a D-Log entry.
Useful documents

Download the candidate handbook here

Download the skills checklist here

To view the frequently asked questions click here

Recommended reading

Here is a list of excellent books to support you. 

Navigation in the mountains:  Click here to buy

Hillwalking: Click here to buy 

Field studies guides: Click here to buy