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  • What's included?
    You are getting a highly experienced guide and instructor. Whether it's Fabian or not, we'll only work with guides / instructors that we know well and trust to provide you with a great experience. Our courses are run to give you the maximum benefit and experience in the time we have and provide a friendly environment where everyone can contribute. There is no such thing as a stupid question! For other trips, you are getting out to places you may not have ever felt confident to go to alone, also in the knowledge that the route planning, continual risk assessment, navigation and guiding is taken care of leaving you to enjoy the trip, chat and take photos. I can provide bits of equipment such as harnesses, helmets, ice axes, crampons and camping paraphenalia. The only charges are on consumables such as camping gas, sleeping bags (they need to be washed) and if you want us to buy exped food for you. For indoor climbing courses, the entrance fee and equipment hire is included in the course cost. For outdoor climbing you will need to have had some indoor experience and it is expected that you will have your own harness, climbing shoes and belay device by the time you are wanting to try actual rock climbing. It is advisable that you get your own climbing helmet and harness but we can provide these. We don't have a warehouse of boots, climbing shoes of every size, ski goggles or masses of ice axes and crampons etc. You may need to hire these out separately either locally to you or from gear shops near where we are going - and we'll provide advice if needed. It is your responsibility to ensure you have been fitted appropriately before the start of the event. We will teach you how to use the equipment on the trek/course where appropriate!
  • What equipment should I bring?
    If you're new to the hills and mountains, just bring clothes that you are comfortable in and that are NOT cotton (such as jeans / cotton teeshirts / cotton underwear). You will need good walking boots - and ones that fit you is the most important aspect of selection. You will need a rucksack to carry it all in. You can view (and download) the gear list for various activities here and if there are things that you are missing just get in touch and we'll see if we can muster something up. If you are a beginner then we can talk about different equipment with you - there is no point spending a fortune on gear before coming out on a hill with us. For the more experienced, please bring as much of your own kit as you have. It will make whatever course or event more meaningful for you if you are using your own gear.
  • What's not included?
    Transport to and from the event (and during if meeting in different places - though with prior notice we are happy to shuttle around), accommodation, personal equipment, travel insurance (which is highly recommended in case of cancellation by you or us), bikes and accessories where relevant, and other essential equipment shown on the gear you'll need page if you've not asked us to provide it (where applicable).
  • What are your terms and conditions?
    Please see the link here to our terms and conditions. Please read it. It's boring but will outline exactly what to expect and what happens in different circumstances. Force Majure includes pandemics and we're still in one. That said, we refunded, allowed last minute postponements with positive tests etc. However it made it nearly impossible to maintain a business and it was a real hit for us to the point we nearly had to cease. Most other providers did the same but we're all having to be rather more 'normal' now as we are coming out of the worst of the pandemic. We will always try and accommodate folks - especially where the dreaded covid test comes back positive the night before an event but it's at our discretion.
  • How do I get there and where can I stay?
    We provide a Google Maps link to the start point on all our events and courses on each relevant page. This can give you an idea of where the location is, whether there are any train stations nearby and where the nearest town / city is. If you need someone to fetch you en route as public transport has run out please get in touch. As for where to stay, we can make recommendations in most places but it will depend on your budget and preference. In summer, anywhere near Aviemore & Braemar (Cairngorms), Fort William (for Ben Nevis), Snowdonia, the Lake District (especially) and the Yorkshire Dales gets booked up well in advance so if there's something you're interested in, please book it earlier rather than later and your accommodation for anything in these localities.
  • How do you grade walks?
    This is a rough guide to how difficult or challenging a walk is. It cannot take into account your own personal level of fitness but along with the description given in each of the activities, should provide a snapshot of the likely terrain. If you are still unsure but interested, please get in touch Level 1 - Short, easy hill walks. These are either quite short routes and/or following good paths and tracks on approach, ascent and decent. There may be short steeper sections but on path. Moderate level of fitness is required. Level 2 - Longer, easy hill walks. Approach on tracks or good paths, May include grassy ascents and descents. Decent level of fitness with moderate level of stamina required for the day. Level 3 - Moderate mountain day. Approaches and terrain not necessarily on paths. Some steep ascents or descents, may include occasional boulderfield or scree and some ridge-walking. You will want to have undertaken some previous walks in the mountains (e.g. Ben Nevis Tourist Track, Llanberis Path up Snowdon, Scafell Pike from Wasdale). Good level of fitness and stamina required. Level 4 - Challenging & long mountain day(s). Long approach which may be over rough terrain. Several steep ascents or descents, some rough terrain (boulderfield, scree, bogs or deep heather). Possible and occasional easy ungraded rock-scrambling which will be highlighted in the route description. You will need to be a fairly regular hill walker in different weather conditions and have a good level of fitness and stamina. Taster wilderness trips will come into this category. Level 5 - Challenging & long wilderness mountain days. These will be similar to a red level walk except that we will be wilderness backpacking - therefore carrying our camping kit and food for several days. The additional weight and bulk can add to the difficulty on even quite easy terrain. You will need to be a fairly regular hill walker in different weather conditions and have a good level of fitness and stamina.
  • ​What food should I bring for a day activity?
    Firstly and most importantly, ensure that you've had a good breakfast. This is perhaps the most important aspect of a day walk and your leader will want to ensure everyone has eaten before we set off. If the weather is spectacular (it does happen in Britain) we will stop for a short lunch break for a sandwich. But even on a hot day it is alarming how quickly we can get cold if we stop, and it can make getting going again harder. In winter we won't stop for more than a few minutes unless it's exceptional. You will need to have food you can easily eat, stuffed in pockets or easily accessible in your rucksack. Your leaders will generally have an assortment of Snickers, Mars Bars, Tracker Bars, All day Cereal bars, peanuts and a sandwich. Bananas are good for energy (but easily squished). Between 1-2L water can be drunk depending on the nature of the walk and the weather. But these are rough guides. Clearly if it's a baking hot day you'll need more water. Ultimately you will want food that you can easily and quickly eat if we stop for a short period, that's high in energy, and that you like!
  • ​What food should I bring for a wilderness trek?
    There are numerous blogs about food when out backpacking written by some long distance experts. Please note that we'll be out for 1-2 nights. It is always a good idea to bring some spare/emergency food. It's better to have more than you need. In the highlands we tend to refill water from higher streams. Your leader will have some chlorine tablets should you want them but this is not usually necessary. We can provide advice about expedition food - just ask! We can also provide Wayfayrer foods for you in advance (and depending on availability). If you are needing us to get you some then please ask. We will go to the local gear shop and buy it. We can give you an idea of the range on offer but we'll ask you for a few back up meals in case. It's literally a matter of what the gear shop has in stock when we go. Each item is (currently) £6.00. They are pre-hydrated so heavier than freeze-dried foods but absolutely worth it. For the selection of Wayfayrer foods please see here
  • Can I bring my kid(s)?
    Children under 18 are welcome so long as they are accompanied by their legal guardian or parent. There are certain activities which will be unsuitable for children (e.g. long wilderness treks). But climbing and learning to navigate would be great for kids. I have an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) Certificate and any other guide who works with me will also hold the relevant qualifications, first aid certificates and DBS Certificate. If in doubt or you want to discuss suitability, please just ask.
  • Can I bring my dog(s)?
    Well behaved dogs are welcome on private events. Not on open events. Open events are for anyone who wants to book on and we may have folks who are allergic to dogs or scared of them. Should you really want to, please ask nearer the start of the event and we'll ask everyone who is booked on whether they mind. Just so you know - Although he's a biologist by background, Fabian is sadly very allergic to dogs, but out and about in the hills he's ok. Just please keep them away from him or jumping on him! If you are wanting to book a private a wilderness trek it will be your responsibility to bring the supplies your dog will need. Your dog will need to be housed in your tent and you will need to clear up dog mess and dispose of it responsibly once out of the wilderness. Dogs must be kept under control on a lead in particular areas and at particular times of year and you must agree not to let your dog off the lead unless the Leader tells you it's OK. Some routes will be unsuitable for dogs and could pose a risk for their humans too. In such cases we'll let you know.
  • I'm really interested in an event or course but I can't make the dates
    Simply get in touch to see whether we can run it as a private event. Please bear in mind 1:1 on a course is never ideal. We also need to keep trips viable so the minimum number on trips is also to enable us to afford the bills. If you are absolutely determined you want a trip for yourself, please note that you'll be charged for two. For clubs / societies, We're happy forming a strategic partnerships to deliver services on a regular basis (even if it's just once a year). We can offer discounts for repeat business.
  • I'm really interested in climbing a particular range but you're not offering it
    That's no problem, just get in touch and we'll look to organise a private trip for you. Please note, that booking for one person can be rather expensive as we have to cover the overheads and pay the bills.
  • What if there is a medical emergency
    All Mountain Leaders and Mountaineering and Climbing Instructors are required to hold a wilderness first aid certificate to deal with medical emergencies. We are also registered with the police to access 999 in remote areas to call for Mountain Rescue if required. Alerting us to any medical conditions is therefore vital so that we can look out for signs that something may be happening. All such information is kept in strictest confidence and only shared with the leader on a need to know basis. Any electronic copies or paper copies are held for 3 years afterwards in case of any legal dispute and then destroyed.
  • Are there any mountains in Britain?
    Most of Northern Britain is in some parts hilly and mountainous with deep dales and glens. We don't have the longest river or the highest mountain or the great plains on this small island, but we've got a bit of everything! Our highest mountain (Ben Nevis at 1,345m / 4,411ft) isn't Alpine but is partially snow-covered all year round most years though this is becoming less so as climate change bites. We have the Gulf stream hitting us straight off the Atlantic. That means we regularly have all four seasons in one day in the hills. White-out blizzards on the summer solstice are not unheard of. We typically lose a degree celsius every 100m vertically up and despite the lack of glaciers characteristic of the great mountain ranges - some of the best narrow knife edge ridges, scrambles, and big face rock/ice climbing anywhere. The North Face of Ben Nevis is on any serious mountaineer's tick list for winter climbs.
  • I can plot routes on my phone/watch/GPS. Why do I need a guide?
    The rise in GPS technology has been phenomenal. However batteries run out (especially when cold), tracking Apps chew up power, and smartphones don't mix well with rain. Every year mountain rescue services across Britain are called out because people are ill equipped for the conditions, the phone has died and they have no back-up navigation to fall back on when the mist comes in. Mountain Leaders, Instructors and Guides will use GPS technologies but generally only as a quick confirm location in an especially complex terrain where going wrong could lead to serious consequences - or on long days when we really don't have time to mess about. Nothing beats a map, compass and confidence using them. In the Highlands of Scotland, many mountains are so remote there are few if any tracks on them and it can be a gruelling slog through bogs and steep heather to get anywhere. Wilderness camp-craft is an art in itself - especially working with the environment to minimise impact. The relative accessibility makes some areas extremely popular - such as the 'tourist track' on Ben Nevis, built for donkeys to take Victorian ladies up to the observatory at the top. However visitors on this route miss absolutely anything of the mountain except a grassy slope and human traffic jams as a result. Mountain Leaders can take you off the beaten track to see some of the most stunning views and places, reduce the collective impact on a particular route, point out interesting features, and help pass on some of the skills needed to experience the mountains more independently.
  • We're doing a charity challenge. Can't you help us for free?
    However much we'd love to say yes to everyone who asks, this is our profession and day (and night) job and it's how we pay the bills. We cannot offer special discounts for charity events no matter how great the cause or how much we might support it.
  • What is a Munro?
    A Munro is a mountain in Scotland which is over 3,000ft high (or rather less romantically, 914.4 metres). There are currently 282 Munros listed by the Scottish Mountaineering Council. Just to add to this there are another whole host of mountain categories - the other most popular lists being the 222 Corbetts (Mountains in Scotland between 2,500ft and 2,999ft), 214 Wainwrights in England's Lake District, and the 14/15 Welsh 3,000's (depending on which ones you include...), and the Dales 30 among many others. It's all rather anorak and geeky but on the flip side, a major achievement to complete any of the 'listings'.
  • ​What if I need the toilet when we're out in the mountains?
    This shouldn't be a problem on day walks. If you need to pee you can usually find a discreet spot. Please avoid having a pee near obvious places where others may sit for a break such as view points, summits and near paths and streams. And definitely not near dwellings and farms. Climbing crags can become busy so it's important that you go somewhere discrete and away from the crag. Water is a strange molecule and it takes a lot of energy to heat it (just think of the amount of energy a kettle uses to boil it). If you are holding in your wee because it's a hassle, your body is having to consume vast amounts of energy to keep that internal bladder warm as well as keep you active. This can easily lead to fatigue and hypothermia. If you need to go - no matter what the conditions are, then go. We do carry a small trowel, some loo role and some sanitising hand gel if you need a poo on wilderness treks. We will advise on where to go and where not to go to protect the environment (and dignity!) - this is especially important when there is a group of us. But wilderness treks tend to be in really quite remote locations and it's actually rare to encounter another person for several days!
  • Do I need insurance?
    That's up to you but highly recommended - There is no guarantee we will reach a summit and in autumn / winter with named storm systems moving through, we may have to cancel an event last minute for safety reasons. We will always try and reschedule but we cannot factor in accommodation you may have booked. The British Mountaineering Council are worth googling as they provide insurance for those going out on treks. Normal holiday insurance will cover you if you need to cancel. We have our own liability insurance that covers us for the activities we provide as does any additional guide who joins us.
  • What risks are there?
    The British Mountaineering Council Participation Statement is a standard piece of information activity providers ask you to read and accept and this will be in the booking form. "The BMC recognises that climbing and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own involvement. By booking a course you are aware and accept these risks and will be responsible for your own actions and involvement." Your guide is trained to manage these, but can never completely remove them.
  • What's with the minimum and maximum numbers?
    The minimum numbers are to enable the events to go ahead. At the end of the day, we've still got bills to pay! For courses they are also there because part of the experience is to learn from others and share experience. This is absolutely crucial to the courses. We can run courses on a 1:1 basis but it can often be a bit intense and you won't get as much from the course. We make exceptions for those wanting a refresher before a Mountain Training assessment as the more intense the practice, the easier the assessment (well, that's the theory at least). One of the missions of AFS Mountaineering is to provide quality training to enable you to go and start planning and having your own adventures safely. The learning environment and a working number of people is vital. The maximum numbers are to enable us to manage a group safely. We can take more than the advertised number but that adds a cost as we need to bring in another guide. For NNAS courses the maximum numbers are stipulated by NNAS.
  • Do you run trips to the Black Cuillin Ridge on Skye or the Aonach Eagach?
    We work with guides who specialise in these areas and schedule these in as trips. If you want a private trip here please note that they get booked up long in advance so it may be a year's wait. We only work with guides we trust and know well. We can only take 1 or 2 people on these trips for safety reasons as you will be roped up. We will provide a harness and helmet if you don't have your own. Prices are advertised on the relevant page and won't change if private! It's absolutely back breaking work day in and day out on these ridges and however experienced they are, they are taking you into a potentially fatal environment.
General FAQs
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