You will be taught safety in the hills skills on your course but here are the essentials


Check the weather before your trip and plan an appropriate and safe route for the weather, your abilities and your group.

Check you have the minimum safe gear, know how to navigate and how to move across the terrain planned.

Minimum Safe Gear
  • Waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers
  • Hat & Gloves and spares in wet / cold weather.
  • Base layer, Mid layer and Insulation layer
  • Hill walking trousers (definitely not jeans or sports leggings)
  • Hill walking boots and socks (test comfort before your walk). Gaiters optional.
  • Rucksack
  • Head torch and spare head torch (even for day walks)- check batteries before heading out.
  • Whistle, up to date OS 1:25 or 1:50 map of the area, and spare map, compass. GPS and spare batteries if you have one. Pencil and paper. A PLB if you have one.
  • Food, Water.
  • Survival shelter and survival bag.
  • First Aid kit.
  • Walking poles if you use them.
  • In hot weather sun cream, extra water and sunglasses.
  • In cold weather ice grips, goggles, helmet, hot drink, extra food and additional layers. Ice axe and crampons and know how to use them, if appropriate. Consider a survival bag such as Blizzard or similar.
  • Fully charged mobile phone and spare if you have one. Power pack for mobile. Keep it dry and warm in wet/cold weather.
  • Any medication prescribed to you.

Wrap all gear in waterproof bags inside your rucksack.

Leave written details of your route, any escape/bad weather routes, number of people, and time you will return, with a responsible adult. Instruct them to contact Mountain Rescue at a given time. Notify them if you are to be late and when you are off the hill. Download our free route card here.

On Route

Keep an eye on the weather, and how your group is doing. Turning back or cutting the route short should be considered, if you are unsure. Drink and eat regularly and assess how everyone in your group is feeling.

If you have an emergency on route, stop in a safe place and assess whether you can self help or you need the emergency services.
Ensure you and then everyone else in the group is safe, then make the casualty safe.

Give first aid if needed.

Insulate your group and casualty from any bad weather using your survival shelter.

Determine your location as best you can, and write down the grid reference and description.
e.g.. SK 08320 88940 TOP OF KINDER DOWNFALL on Edge Path, Kinder Scout, Peak District, England.

To call Mountain Rescue dial 999 or 112 and ask for Police, then ask the Police for Mountain Rescue in the area you are in. (We recommend using 112 which we will explain on your course.)

Area example – “Mountain Rescue for the Peak District please”. or… “Mountain Rescue for the Lake District please”. (Your mobile phone may have latched onto a mast in a different area to the one you are in).

Give your name, mobile number, location (as example above), what you can see near you, number of people (ages, sex), number of casualties, condition of group and casualty, injuries/medical conditions,the weather near you, if you have lights showing or not.

If you do not know exactly where you are say so, and be prepared to describe what you have seen on route, where you last had a fix, what you can see now and so on. Be specific, don’t just say near some rocks for example – how big are they, as big as a house, or car, what direction do they face etc. Provide as much information as you can when asked.

Follow instructions given. This will usually be stay where you are if it is safe to do so.

Stay inside your survival shelter and leave lights externally flashing at your location. Look out and listen from time to time for lights/noise of Mountain Rescue or a search dog, and whistle/flash 6 times in one minute to signal help. Keep doing it if you see or hear anyone.

If you cannot get a phone signal it is usually best to stay put than wander about if you are unsure of any dangers around you.   Activate your PLB if you have one. (Covered on your UNS course).

But if you have no mobile signal and it is safe to do so and you think appropriate, select your two best navigators/most experienced hill walkers. Write down your location and note the route they plan to take off the hill, and the time they left. They should take their gear with them and move off the hill using a safe route to the nearest place they can make contact with the emergency services. They should have a written and mental description of where the casualty party is, and the route they took off the hill.

Most Smartphones have GPS’s that can give you your position. Your course instructor will show you how to use them in an emergency. We can also advise on PLBs, SPOT GPS trackers etc.

You can also text the emergency services BUT must have registered before hand. Your instructor will also cover this on your course.

When help arrives follow Mountain Rescue’s instructions. If a helicopter arrives, stay still, secure loose items, do not shine lights directly at it when it is close by, follow any instructions given.

See our shop for necessary and emergency equipment you may wish to purchase.

Three Seasons Rucksack Contents

Be Tick Aware  – In some hill areas of the UK there are ticks.

Some ticks carry Lyme’s disease. Check your body over for ticks periodically on the hill and after a hill day.

For information and advice on Lyme’s disease please see the BMC’s article on ticks at BMC Article on ticks. If you have a dog, check your dog too.

The Mountains are a safe and beautiful place – enjoy them, with a few simple precautions you can keep safe and have fantastic adventures.

Remember – Navigation sets you free!