Mountain Leader

The Mountain Leader scheme is designed for people who want to lead groups in the mountains, hills and moorlands of the UK and Ireland. If you love being out in the mountains and want to share your enthusiasm with others, become a Mountain Leader and you’ll never look back (unless you’re checking your group’s still there!).

Mountain Leaders operate the length and breadth of the country with all sorts of groups of people; from scouts and schoolchildren to outdoor instructors and OAPs. The qualification is what you make it and there are countless opportunities for passionate Mountain Leaders.

Loving life on Mountain Leader training

Is it for me?

Find out more about being a Mountain 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 mountain walking
  • You should have an interest in leading groups in the mountains
  • 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:
Frequently Asked Questions

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


Before you book onto a Mountain 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 Mountain Days (ideally on DLOG) which can have taken place at any point (pre- or post-registration)
Mountain Leader training lasts for 6 days and will be run by one of our approved Providers in one of the key mountain areas of 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 Mountain Leader handbook is available in English and Welsh.

Mountain Leader Handbook Llawlyfr Arweinydd Tir Isel,Llawlyfr Arweinydd Mynydd

Guidance notes for trainers and assessors

Last updated July 2015

The Syllabus

Mountain Leaders should be competent in the following key areas, all of which will be covered, to a greater or lesser extent, during your six day training course.
  • Group management
  • Navigation
  • Access and the environment
  • Hazards (including steep ground and rivers) and emergency procedures
  • Equipment
  • Expedition skills
  • Weather
  • Background knowledge
Detailed information on each of the above topics can be found in the Mountain Leader Handbook and the onus is on you to be competent in all of them by the time you come to assessment.

Learning to navigate as a leader on Mountain Leader training


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 mountain adventures as you like, so get out there and explore this beautiful country of ours!


Before you book onto a Mountain Leader assessment, make sure you have done the following:
  • You must have attended a Mountain Leader training course (or have been granted exemption)
  • You must be familiar with the syllabus
  • You must have logged a minimum of 40 Quality Mountain Days in three different regions of the UK and Ireland
  • You must have logged at least 8 nights camping, including at least 4 nights wild camping
  • 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 Mountain Leader assessment is 5 days long and includes a two night expedition.

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

Mountain Leader profiles

Cressida Allwood
Cressida Allwood - Expedition leader
Laura Simpson
Laura Simpson - Freelance instructor
Plateau du Trient cDan Aspel
Dan Aspel - Leader and outdoor journalist
Simon Pearce
Simon Pearce - Volunteer support
and activities coordinator

See also I want that job - Mountain Leader (link to article)

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 illustrations and images make this book an indispensable guide to the skills required for summer hill walking.

Hill Walking

Get Book

Mountain Leader training course in Capel Curig Snowdonia

The Scope of the Award

The Mountain Leader scheme offers the opportunity to gain technical competence in leading walkers in the hills and mountains. It does not provide a rock climbing qualification, nor does it cover the skills required for the planned use of the rope. Completion of a training course, without a pass result at assessment, is not a qualification in itself.

It is the combination of technical skills, wide experience and personal leadership qualities, which form the basis for effective group management, and the scheme assesses all these aspects. However, the employer or operating authority must ultimately decide whether a leader has the personal attributes needed to take responsibility for a particular group of people.

The scheme is intended for those leading groups in mountainous or remote country. For a full list of areas in the UK and Ireland defined as mountainous country see Appendix 1 of the Handbook. The Mountain Leader award is recognised by the Health and Safety Executive and the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority as being an appropriate award for leading 'trekking' in summer conditions (see Guidance to the Adventure Activity Licensing Authority L77, HSE Books).

The Mountain Environment: mountains mean freedom, adventure, beauty and solitude. Therefore, whilst fostering a love of the hills in others, group leaders should show appreciation of the needs of hill users, rural communities and upland habitats and encourage an understanding of the problems of mountain conservation and access. Consideration of these aspects is vital if the mountain environment is to be protected.

The term 'summer' is used to describe any conditions not covered by winter. Winter can be defined as the time when snow and ice prevail or are forecast. Neither term can be defined by a portion of the year. The Mountain Leader scheme does not provide training and assessment in the skills required to cope with the special hazards of winter conditions, particularly snow and ice. The Winter Mountain Leader scheme provides specific training and assessment for winter conditions in the UK and Ireland.

OfQual regulation and Mountain Training England