Hill walking is an adventurous activity that can be immensely rewarding and test many of the skills of scouting. Hill walking is described as the movement through and over hills and mountains without the planned use of a climbing rope or other climbing aids. It can take place under summer or winter conditions, within the UK or in any part of the world which has a mountainous terrain.

Because walking is an everyday activity for us all, the skills and experience needed for hill walking are sometimes under-estimated. In fact, a walk in the mountains can be dramatically different from a walk in the local park or along a canal towpath. However, mastering the skills needed is not difficult or overly technical.


  • Hillwalking Permits
  • Scout Rules And Requirements
  • Standards Used At Assessment
  • Am I Ready For Assessment?
  • Applying For Assessment
  • At Assessment
  • Getting Your Permit
  • Permit Scope And Validity

Hillwalking Permits

As with any adventurous activity, The Scout Association needs to ensure that hill walking for scouts is as safe as it can reasonably be. To ensure that leaders taking scout groups into the hills have the right experience and attitude, Scouts have developed a permit system. It is based around three types of terrain in which a leader or their groups might operate.

  • Terrain 0 is any terrain below 500 metres above sea level, and within 30 minutes travelling time from a road which can take an ordinary road-going ambulance or a building which is occupied (such as a farm) or another means of summoning help (such as a telephone box) and contains no element of scrambling (use of the hands to ascend).
  • Terrain 1 (T1) is any terrain below 800 metres but more than 500 metres above sea level or; is more than 30 minutes but less than three hours travelling time from a road which can take an ordinary road-going ambulance or a building which is occupied (such as a farm) or another means of calling help (such as a telephone box). In addition, although the route may pass through rough or rocky ground, there must be no scrambling.
  • Terrain 2 (T2) is any terrain over 800 metres above sea level or requires an element of scrambling or; lies more than three hours travelling time from a road which can take an ordinary road-going ambulance or a building which is occupied (such as a farm) or another means of calling help (such as a telephone box).

In addition to the type of terrain, Scouting also differentiates between summer and winter conditions. If there is snow or ice on the ground, it counts as winter conditions. Leaders that wish to supervise groups undertaking expeditions on their own should also have a supervisor permit.

Scouts allow restricted permits, which specify the area or circumstances in which you can lead. Personal permits are designed to allow those under the age of 18 to undertake hill walking activities as a Scout. They cannot be used to lead or supervise groups.

Scout Rules And Requirements

The Scouting movement requires leaders to possess the right permit for the terrain and conditions they are operating in. In addition, there are rules on the size of the party and a requirement for someone in the group to have a valid first-aid certificate. For more information, see the ‘Rules relating to Hillwalking’ section here.

You will wish to familiarise yourself with them before venturing into the hills with a scout group or applying to be assessed.

Standards Used At Assessment

The Scout Association uses the syllabus of the relevant national qualification as the standard against which you will be assessed.

For terrain one permits, the equivalent national qualification is the Hill and Moorland Leader award. A copy of the handbook, which sets out what is required and provides further information about the award, is at:

For terrain two permits, the national qualification is the Mountain Leader Award (ML). A copy of the Mountain Leader Handbook, which sets out what is required and provides further information about the award, is at:

Am I Ready For Assessment?

We expect candidates to have logged approximately 20-30 quality mountain days before applying for assessment. A quality mountain day is a route that would take over 5 hours and, normally includes the ascent of a peak over 600m.

Candidates should also be familiar with the Scouting rules on hill walking and ideally have experience of leading or helping to lead a group. If you are in doubt about whether to apply for an assessment, why not come along on one of our regular weekends? We will be able to give you a good idea of how you might fare and provide training in areas that might need a little further work.

Applying For Assessment

Assessments take place on our regular weekend trips (see calendar). To apply, complete the following application form and send it together with a copy of your logbook to Email the same address if you have any questions. Applications must be received 4 weeks before the date of assessment. This is to allow assessors enough time to review your application and make the necessary arrangements.

At Assessment

GLMW has two aims. To get leaders qualified and to ensure that scouts are as safe as they can be in the mountains. At assessment, a qualified assessor will assess you on all areas of the relevant syllabus. Assessors will use the appropriate checklist for this:

There are three types of permits available for Hillwalking. These are:

  • Personal – Allows a young person (under 18) to take part in Hillwalking with others with a personal Hillwalking permit
  • Leadership – Allows the permit holder to lead Hillwalking for a single group
  • Supervisory Assessment – Allows the permit holder to remotely supervise more than one Hillwalking group.

Click here to download the assessment checklist.

There are three possible outcomes at assessment – Pass, Fail and Deferment. The assessors will make a decision based on what was observed at the assessment. The final decision on whether to recommend that a permit be issued will be taken by a GLMW qualified assessor. You will also get appropriate and confidential feedback on areas of strength and areas for further development.

Getting Your Permit

If you have passed, the assessor will recommend to the responsible commissioner the level of permit they believe you should get based upon the technical ability you displayed at the assessment. The actual permit is granted by a responsible commissioner (See factsheets 120100-120104). You should forward the assessor’s recommendation together with the Application Form for an adventurous activity permit to your commissioner.

The commissioner may check your knowledge of the rules (the assessor may do this), assess your personal suitability and ensure that you have a DBS check. When these steps have been completed, your permit card will be issued and recorded on the Membership Services database.

Permit Scope And Validity

Permits are a national scouting award valid for a maximum of 5 years, after which you need to renew them. In some cases, a restricted permit of a shorter validity is issued. The permit is valid for the areas listed on the permit. If an unrestricted permit is issued, it is valid for the UK in the terrain and conditions specified (i.e. T1 or T2 summer/winter).

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls