You don't need a qualification to go climbing, hill walking or mountaineering. One of the great freedoms that mountain users cherish is the ability to enjoy themselves without the presence of regulation.
It is common for people to walk or climb in groups, with those more experienced sharing their knowledge with those less experienced. In such situations, there is no requirement for anyone to hold a qualification.
What about coaching and leading others?
For people coaching and instructing climbing, hill walking and mountaineering there are fifteen national awards for the UK and Ireland and two international awards. Award holders have demonstrated their competence to work in defined terrains and activities. Holding a relevant qualification is often the easiest way for leaders to demonstrate their competence. However, those not holding a qualification may choose to demonstrate their competence in a different way.
According to the Health and Safety Executive there are four ways for leaders to demonstrate their competence, which are:
to hold the relevant qualification
to hold an equivalent qualification
to have received appropriate in-house training
to be competent through experience
A very useful document providing advice on good practice for leaders is the National Guidelines for Climbing and Walking Leaders.
Individual BMC members, and members of a BMC affiliated club, are covered by the BMC Combined Liability insurance. Such insurance is designed for recreational walkers and climbers, who may sometimes share their knowledge with less experienced mountain users.
However, it does not provide cover to those coaching and instructing in exchange for money or gifts in kind including, for example, free transport. In such situations professional indemnity insurance should be obtained.
Members of the Mountain Training Association and the Association of Mountaineering Instructors can access professional indemnity insurance at better rates than direct from insurance brokers.
If paying for coaching or instruction, ensure that the person or organisation delivering it holds the appropriate insurance.
Activities for U18s
A range of adventurous activities fall under statutory licensing. Any person or centre providing licensable activities commercially to U18s must hold a licence issued by the Adventurous Activities Licensing Authority unless a parent or guardian accompany the child whilst the activities are undertaken. This means that their safety and risk assessment procedures have been inspected. It is reasonable to ask a provider which activities they are licensed to deliver and to see a copy of their license.
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