EOEU1S1: Navigation and Mountain Skills

CO-ORDINATOR: Prof Alistair Jump

This module covers the basic skills and competency required to safely navigate and operate effectively in the UK Mountains. This module will also prepare you for the Mountain Leader Training Course, which you will complete as part of second year module EOEU3S3, and will equip you with the ability to independently gain Quality Mountain Days (QMDs) as defined by Mountain Training UK. The ability to navigate and know where you are is fundamental, but the module will also look at weather and access legislation in taught tutorials. Throughout the module emphasis will be placed on understanding the landscape – its ecology, geology, and morphology, as well as competing land use issues. These environmental aspects will all be covered while on the hill, and we will expect you to research them in advance for each venue used.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate the role of adventure activity in remote environments within outdoor education.
  2. Plan and undertake journeys safely in UK mountain and wilderness environments in summer conditions.
  3. Recognise a ‘quality mountain day’ and have undertaken 5 ‘quality mountain days’.
  4. Explain the basic ecology and landscape features of mountain environments.
  5. Identify human-landscape interactions at various geographical scales and justify the need for management and conservation activities in sensitive and or popular areas.
  6. Identify the role of NGB awards and register with Mountain Training (Scotland)
  7. Demonstrate best practice in mountain safety.

Key Skills and Competencies

On successful completion of this course students will acquire skills in:

  1. Basic navigation skills including using compass and maps at various scales.
  2. Recognising weather systems and interpreting forecasts.
  3. Selecting and using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  4. Safe travel on mountainous terrain, managing risks and hazards.
  5. Route planning.
  6. Interpretation of landscape features and geographical and ecological processes.
  7. Incident management.

Teaching will be in the form of a series of day-long residentials and workshops incorporating lectures and field visits.


As a guide, you will be expected to:

1)    Produce a detailed plan for Hill Day 1  This should include not just a route plan, but a ‘field guide’ – detailing anticipated flora, fauna, terrain, geology, topography for the area. A basic risk assessment should also be provided. Students will be expected to deliver sections of this plan to each other during Hill Day 1.  Note that as this is the first time that you will have produced such a plan, the assessment will be preliminary to the full field plan (below). 

2) Complete min of 3 and max of 5 QMDs 

For ONE ONLY of these QMDs produce a field guide (as per Hill Day 1) to include anticipated flora, fauna, terrain, geology, topography. This should be for a different mountainous area to the Ochils, and should show clear improvements based on feedback from the first field guide.  

3) Undertake a Class Test on Mountain Weather, Access Legislation & Map Interpretation. Towards the end of the module. This test will be undertaken in exam conditions and will assess your basic understanding of the above. 

4) By the last Hill day, demonstrate your Navigational Competency, measured by the National Navigation Award Scheme (Bronze, Silver or Gold standard).  Goldis the level expected at ML Assessment.  Over the course of the two days of the associated residential you will be both coached on and given opportunities to display your competency. 

Suggested Reading

Long, Steve Hill walking : the official handbook of the mountain leader and walking group leader schemes / written by Steve Long with contributions from MTT staff.. 2nd rev. ed. Plas y Brenin : Mountain Training Trust, 2005

Forte, Carlo Navigation in the Mountains: The Definitive Guide for Hill Walkers, Mountaineers & Leaders - the Official Navigation Book for All Mountain Leader Training Schemes

Hill, Peter The mountain skills training handbook / Pete Hill and Stuart Johnston ; foreword by Nigel Williams.. Newton Abbot : David & Charles, 2000

Kempe, Nick Hostile habitats : Scotland's mountain environment / editors, Nick Kempe [and] Mark Wrightham. [S. l.] : Scottish Mountaineering Trust, 2006

Pedgley, David E., Mountain weather : a practical guide for hillwalkers and climbers in the British Isles / by David Pedgley. Milnthorpe, Cumbria : Cicerone, 2006

Thomas Malcolm, Weather for hill walkers and climbers, Allan Sutton (1995)

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
Portal Logon