Last weekend, I had an incredible experience at Scout Adventures – Yr Hafod, participating in the Hillwalking Tier 2 Permit course. From the get-go, the whole process was seamless. Booking was a breeze, and the joining instructions were clear and detailed. I wasn’t sure which course to take so contacted Kevin, the course secretary in advance and after a brief discussion with him he provided valuable advice on which permit to pursue based on my experience and offered to arrange a chat with an instructor. Talk about going the extra mile! In the end, I booked in for the Tier 2 permit instead of the Tier 1 due to my prior experience.

Hands-On Learning: Practical and Challenging

Friday evening kicked off with a safety briefing, weather forecast updates, and general instructions for the weekend. We got to meet the other participants on the course and it was great to have some time to get to know the instructors better and discuss our experience levels and what the rest of the course would entail. The availability of spare equipment, all in great condition, was a lifesaver for anyone needing last-minute gear. Gareth, our Leader in Charge for the weekend, ensured everything ran smoothly. Each course had a dedicated lead instructor—mine was Murray from Cheshire. It was reassuring to see strict adherence to safety protocols, with detailed dynamics risk assessments completed each morning.

I was worried that this was going to be a course that was death by PowerPoint as I have had the misfortune of that in the past. How wrong I was! What really sold this for me was the absolute focus on practical learning. 

We hit the mountains right away on the Saturday, heading over to Cwm Idwal and after some initial relocation tests we then headed up Devils Kitchen and up on to the lower slopes nestled between Y Garn and Glyder Fawr. The weather was turning beautiful and over the next 6-7 hours we spent plenty of time leading legs of a journey, working on practical navigation skills and really getting some quality experience working on our understanding of contours, pacing and relocating at challenging locations. You don’t get to use landmarks or obvious features on a T2 course, everything we were navigating to was a small spur, ring contour or rentrant and had to primarily be done by really understanding the terrain and what it looks like on a map. 

In the evening, we worked on our poor visibility skills. Eryri had blessed us with gorgeous weather during the day but at night it took ages for it to get dark. So, eventually we were out on the local area around Yr Hafod practicing night navigation and really delving in to the dark arts of pacing over rough ground, navigation tactics in the night and working as a team to keep us on the right bearings and distances. Super useful stuff and challenging for sure. It was amazing to see the intimidating sight of Tryfan looking down on us as we all skulked our way through the boggy but hilly ground.

Sunday was another early start and we headed back into Cwm Idwal, working more on our relocating skills and getting things slicker to answer questions and know exactly where we were at a moment’s notice. The instructors were really looking for an improvement on the day before and made it clear, so the stopwatch came out in earnest, the pacing and timings card was dusted off and the watch calculator was frantically used. I think I did ok and was definitely quicker and slicker. 

In typical North Wales fashion, we then had the treat of our Welsh summer and it started pummelling it down with rain, just in time for us to start practicing with the confidence rope on rocky ground, working on rope work to support movement over uneven ground and to support people who were less confident. Nothing quite like hanging from an South African belay in the cold, windy and wet weather to really force you to concentrate!

The course ended back at Yr Hafod when we had a debrief with our instructors and the next steps were explained. I will be heading back there in 3 months to do the assessment and then onto the Mountain Leader courses they are running. I am chomping at the bit to get back there!


Our instructors, Murray and James, were a treasure trove of knowledge, sharing tips and insights that made everything we did enjoyable and educational. I learnt more about Cwm Idwal, Llyn Idwal and the Glyderau in a weekend than I have in 40 years on the planet.

The course pushed my skills and helped me hone them. The delivery and requirements aligned closely with the advanced training I’ve received through working with the Royal Marines in the past and attending many other hillwalking and mountaineering courses. The level of instruction was impressive, matching the rigor of Mountain Leader (ML) training. Even though I’m no rookie in mountain work and land navigation, this course challenged me in the best ways possible and really forced me to dust off my skills.

Overhearing the Tier 1 course, I was equally impressed with the instructors’ expertise and enthusiasm. I have no doubt that they had a similar experience on the course.


The Hillwalking Tier 2 Permit course at Scout Adventures – Yr Hafod was more than just a training weekend; it was an adventure filled with learning, challenge, and camaraderie. I got to meet lots of interesting new people and the well-organised, practical instruction left me feeling confident and ready to lead Scouts in the mountains. 

Which course for you?

The Tier 2 permit for hillwalking is part of the Scouts Adventurous Activities Permit Scheme Adventurous Activities Permit Scheme | Scouts and is explained more in the Hillwalking section of the Scouts Website Hillwalking | Scouts

If you have no knowledge or experience of hillwalking, land navigation or mountain walking, or you are rusty on your skills and want to gain confidence, you really should be looking at your Tier 1 permit first.

If you have good experience and are already confident, maybe Tier 2 is for you. Note though that the Tier 2 permit is looking at Mountain Leader levels of accuracy and capability so expect to be tested in line with the ML syllabusMountain Leader (

Find out more

You can check out the website to find out more about Yr Hafod courses, ask questions and book in Scout Adventures – Yr Hafod – (

If you’re a potential volunteer looking to obtain a hillwalking permit, I can’t recommend this course and the fantastic team at Yr Hafod enough. Get ready to push your limits, learn from the best, and enjoy every step of the journey!