Hill and Moorland Leader

Get away from the paths and enjoy our wild places as a Hill and Moorland Leader. This qualification is ideal for walkers who want to learn the skills required for effective group leadership in the hill and moorland areas of the UK and Ireland. It is used extensively by those involved with delivering the Duke of Edinburgh's Award as well as many walk leaders and outdoor instructors. Hill and Moorland Leaders operate in terrain that is generally more remote than that used by Lowland Leaders and not as steep or rocky as ground covered by Mountain Leaders.

In a previous life this qualification was called Walking Group Leader (WGL) - in 2014 we renamed it and made some minor changes. The 'overnight experience' element of the WGL was removed and we created a separate Expedition Skills Module which can be 'bolted on' to the Hill and Moorland Leader if you want to increase the scope of your qualification to include overnight expeditions.

Training in the Pentland Hills

Is it for me?

Find out more about being a Hill and Moorland Leader

The prerequisites for registration are as follows:
  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You should have at least a year’s worth of experience of hill walking
  • You should have an interest in leading groups in the hills
  • You must be a member of a mountaineering council: BMC, Mountaineering Scotland or Mountaineering Ireland (you can join one when you register if you're not already a member) - find out why
If you can tick all of the above boxes, here's what to do next:
  • Create an account on our Candidate Management System or log in if you already have one.
  • Register for the Hill and Moorland Leader scheme (this costs £47).

Frequently Asked Questions

If this doesn't sound like the right qualification for you, have you considered the Mountain Leader or Lowland Leader schemes? You could also read through our 'Which scheme is right for me?' page.


Before you book onto a Hill and Moorland Leader training course, make sure you have done the following:
  • You must be registered on the scheme
  • You must have recorded a minimum of 20 Quality Hillwalking Days on appropriate terrain (ideally on DLOG) which can have taken place at any point (pre- or post-registration)
Hill and Moorland Leader training lasts for 3 days and will be run by one of our approved providers in the UK or Ireland. A variety of cost packages are available depending on what's included; food, accommodation etc. so you can choose one that's right for you.

Find a course

Handbook and Skills Checklist

The Hill and Moorland Leader handbook is available in English and Welsh.

Hill and Moorland Leader Handbook Llawlyfr Arweinydd Bryniau a Rhostir

Guidance notes for trainers and assessors

Last updated 4th August 2015

The Syllabus

Hill and Moorland Leaders should be competent in the following key areas, all of which will be covered, to a greater or lesser extent, during your three day training course.
  • Walking and Route Finding
  • Navigation
  • Hazards and Emergency Procedures
  • Equipment
  • Responsibilities of the Leader
  • Group Management
  • Access, Conservation and Environmental Knowledge
  • Weather
Detailed information on each of the above topics can be found in the Hill and Moorland Leader Handbook and the onus is on you to be competent in all of them by the time you come to assessment.

Sunset in the Peak District


The period between training and assessment varies in length for each person and is an opportunity to develop your skills, paying particular attention to any weaknesses identified during the training course. You can use the excuse 'I'm preparing for assessment' to have as many adventures as you like; logging days has never been so much fun!


Before you book onto a Hill and Moorland Leader assessment, make sure you have done the following:
  • You must have attended a Hill and Moorland Leader training course (or have been granted exemption)
  • You must be familiar with the syllabus
  • You must have logged a minimum of 40 Quality Hillwalking Days in at least three different upland areas of the UK and Ireland
  • You must have physically attended and completed (i.e. not online) a first aid course which involved at least two full days or sixteen hours of instruction and included an element of assessment
The Hill and Moorland Leader assessment is 3 days long.

Assessments are run by one of our approved providers and a variety of cost packages are available, depending on what's included; food, accommodation etc. so you can choose one that's right for you.

Find a course

Support and Development

Join the Mountain Training Association and be part of a community of like-minded people on our schemes. The Association offers a range of workshops for trainee and qualified leaders and coaches across the disciplines, as well as a quarterly magazine, gear deals/discounts, a monthly newsletter and an insurance deal. You can join the Association at any point after you have registered on one of Mountain Training's leadership/coaching schemes.
MTA logo

Hill and Moorland Leader Profiles

Elen Huws
Elen Huws - Hill and Moorland Leader
Chris Kula-Przezwanski
Chris Kula-Przezwanski - Hill and Moorland Leader

The Book - Hill Walking

Hill Walking is the official companion to the walking schemes and it includes essential tips and information for every walker as well as for those who wish to lead in the hills. The book is split into three parts: Getting Around in the Hills, The Upland Environment and Group Management. Its functional design with easy-reference pages, striking illustration and images make this book an indispensable guide to the skills required for summer hill walking.

Hill Walking

Get Book

The Scope of the Award

The Hill and Moorland Leader award offers the opportunity to gain experience and demonstrate technical competence in leading groups on hill walks in areas of the UK and Ireland that fall within the technical definition outlined below. Such areas may often be subject to hostile weather conditions and require an element of self-sufficiency and this is reflected in the syllabus of this scheme.

Suitable terrain for the Hill & Moorland Leader will meet the following four criteria:
  • open, uncultivated, non-mountainous high or remote country known variously as upland, moor, bog, fell, hill or down
  • areas enclosed by well-defined geographical or man-made boundaries such as classified roads (areas that merge with mountain regions and do not have well defined boundaries are excluded)
  • areas of remoteness that are easily exited in a few hours, returning to a refuge or an accessible road
  • areas where movement on steep or rocky terrain is not required (in either a planned or unplanned situation)
As with all Mountain Training awards, it is the combination of technical competence and leadership skills supported by a wide range of experience that forms the basis for effective group management. The scheme addresses all these elements. However, the employer or operating authority must ultimately decide whether a leader possesses the personal attributes needed to take responsibility for any particular group of people.

Watch the video

This film is about the Walking Group Leader qualification which we stopped awarding in April 2014. Therefore, whilst there are some inaccuracies due to the mention of this scheme, rather than the Hill and Moorland Leader, it is a good introduction to the terrain and scope of the qualification. Please refer to the candidate handbook above for up to date information about the Hill and Moorland Leader qualification.

OfQual regulation of Mountain Training England