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Become an independent hillwalker with our beginners navigation course

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Available dates:
  • Duration

    2 Nights
  • Accommodation

  • Food

    Some provided. Details below
  • Difficulty Level

    2 Two

So you’ve found the delights of strolling through the countryside and are perhaps thinking you could do with acquiring skills to help navigate the umpteen trails and routes crisscrossing the rural landscape.

These, then folks, are the weekends for you as we’re taking small groups out for short daily walks (maximum six miles) in the company of an expert who will help you sharpen your navigation skills.

By the end of the weekend you’ll have gone from saying ‘where the heck are we?’ to: ‘this way’ armed with a map and compass.

For those who want to take it up a notch from beginner’s level we also run a mountain navigation course. For all our courses though, the aim is to learn while enjoying being part of a sociable group where it’s impossible to feel intimidated or daunted!


This course is run in a variety of locations: 

Lake District

  • Friday 17th – Sunday 19th April 2020 – Derwentwater Hostel
  • Friday 24th – Sunday 26th July 2020 – Derwentwater Hostel


  • Friday 5th – Sunday 7th June  – Dol Peris

 North York Moors

  • Friday 18th – Sunday 20th September – Helmsley

Peak District

  • Friday 13th – Sunday 15th March – Castleton
  • Friday 11th – Sunday 13th September – Castleton


  • Friday 2nd – Sunday 4th October – Clun

Yorkshire Dales

  • Friday 19th – Sunday 21st June – Kettlewell


What we cover on the course:

  • Introduction to the map and compass
  • Locating features
  • Reading the landscape
  • Following a route
  • Where are you allowed to walk?
  • Planning a hill walk

The weekend in a nutshell:

  • Two days’ navigation tuition with a qualified instructor.
  • Food and accommodation in our cosy hostel where you can relax in the evenings in a sociable atmosphere with other peeps who are also relative navigation-newbies.
  • Learn new skills in a supportive group that will enable you to stride out with more confidence knowing you can read the landscape and the map!

This course is aimed for beginners. If you have navigation experience and already know how to use the compass and map, we do offer a more advanced navigation course – ‘Independent Mountain Walker’.

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You’re welcome to arrive at the hostel at any time after 5pm, where you’ll be greeted by your Large Outdoors host and quickly settle into the charm of the place. Relax in the lounge with a hot drink or take a stroll down the lane to get some fresh air!

Those of you on the navigation course will be sharing the hostel with other Large Outdoors members who are on a normal walking weekend, but as a navigation group you’ll have a dedicated Leader, who will arrive the next day.



In the morning you’ll meet your navigation instructor and head out into the hills. Our instructors are very experienced, and will have thought about where to run the day’s course depending on the weather and the location.

The day will be spent solving navigational puzzles, learning and picking up tips. Don’t be intimidated though as the emphasis is very much on making the experience one of learning while having fun rather than any of that unnecessary business of putting you on the spot and making you feel uncomfortable.

The activities will include looking at things like the gradient of a slope and see how the contour lines on the map show you how steep or level the path will be; using a compass and looking at other features on the map such as woodland, rivers and sheep folds to help find your way.

Once back at the hostel there’s plenty of time to freshen up and just chill out before we enjoy our evening meal.



Today’s navigational activities will depend on how much the group completed the day before, but needless to say there’ll be plenty of time to brush up your techniques, ask questions and enjoy walking a different route.

The day will end at approximately 4pm, where you’ll have a final de-brief over afternoon tea in a café before you head home.

Top tip number one: Remember to keep practising your navigational skills after the course as the best way to retain all that new-found knowledge is to continue using it. So get out there with friends or even on your tod for an easy stroll along a new route and soon it will all start to make sense! Have a look at some of our blogs on navigating for some more tips on getting out there!

Our Base:

Lake District

  • Friday 17th – Sunday 19th April 2020 – Derwentwater Hostel, Borrowdale, Keswick CA12 5UR
  • Friday 24th – Sunday 26th July 2020 – Derwentwater Hostel, Borrowdale, Keswick CA12 5UR


  • Friday 5th – Sunday 7th June  – Dol Peris, High St, Gwynedd, Llanberis LL55 4HA

 North York Moors

  • Friday 18th – Sunday 20th September – YHA Helmsley, Carlton Ln, Helmsley, York YO62 5HB

Peak District

  • Friday 13th – Sunday 15th March – YHA Castleton, Losehill Hall, Hope Valley S33 8WB
  • Friday 11th – Sunday 13th September – YHA Castleton, Losehill Hall, Hope Valley S33 8WB


  • Friday 2nd – Sunday 4th October – YHA Clun, The Mill, Clun, Craven Arms SY7 8NY

Yorkshire Dales

  • Friday 19th – Sunday 21st June – The Kettlewell Hostel, Whernside House, Kettlewell BD23 5QU

What’s Included:

  • 2 nights hostel accommodation.
  • 2 days learning navigation in the local area, we include the use of maps, compasses, you just need your regular walking kit.
  • Free navigation guide book.
  • Welcome meal on the Friday plus Saturday night evening meal. Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday and then a packed lunch for Saturday.
  • As well as meals, we also provide a variety of complimentary soft drinks and beverages – tea & coffee which includes herbal, fruit and decaffeinated options and fruit squashes.

The Basics:

Age Limit:  You must be over 18 to attend this trip, there is no upper age limit.

Dogs:  I am afraid dogs are not allowed on this trip, unless they are registered assistance dogs.

Arrival Time:  You are welcome to arrive any time from 5pm onwards and settle in before we serve an evening meal at about 8pm. Please let us know if you intend arriving after 10pm.

Solo Travellers:  This trip is perfect for solo travellers and although couples and small groups of friends are always welcome the majority of people do attend on their own.

Alcoholic Drinks: We do not supply any alcohol for this trip but you are welcome to bring your own drinks to enjoy over the weekend.

Useful Links:

Kit lists – You can view our kit lists here…

FAQ’s – For important information on what’s included with our standard trips, such as what food we supply, arrival times and answer to our most commonly asked questions please visit out our FAQ’s page

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What our members have to say...

  • My first Large Outdoors and (Ulster & the Giant's Causeway Walking Weekend) Irish experience was absolutely fantastic. Everything was organised perfectly and Gareth is a joy to be around. I loved every minute and will definitely book myself onto another trip. #toldallmyfriendstheyhavetocome
    Member Since 2018
  • Well, for a non-walker it was certainly challenging but my word was it exhilarating! The feeling of achievement after every day, was just fabulous. The group we went with were all strangers on day one, but firm friends by the end of the week. The comradery on some of the tougher walks, helped me to the top…..and wow what views. Anyone thinking of doing it - don’t worry….just go for it!
    Member Since 2016
  • “I didn’t really know what to expect on my first ever walking holiday and wasn’t very prepared if truth be known – lesson to all read the essential kit list especially waterproofs! It was great fun and what a lovely group of supportive and encouraging people, especially Gareth who did a great job looking after us all. I must admit at times I found it a bit challenging but what a great sense of achievement when we reached the top of the mountains (hills) I will definitely do this again.
    Member Since 2016
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