Contour Masterclasses in the Lake District

A person holding a map case containing a contour only map – Chris Ensoll Mountain Guide

This is a great opportunity for hilwalkers and mountaineers to take their navigation skills to the next level, and it is perfect as a refresher before a Mountain Leader assessment. Learn how to navigate using only the shape of the ground with contour-only maps, and then transfer this knowledge back to normal maps, again focusing primarily on the shape of the ground. This will really sharpen your navigation skills so that you no longer rely on line features, such as streams, walls and paths, which can all change. Open to Mountain Leader trainees and award holders, Lowland Leader trainees and award holders, and anyone with comparable personal experience.

Venue: meet at the Stickle Ghyll car park, Langdale valley, Lake District

Dates: see the Masterclasses section on our online calendar

Times: 9.30am to 4pm approx

Cost: £55 Mountain Training Association members, £60 non-members

Counts as 1 CPD point for MTA members who are Mountain Leader holders or trainees

Equipment list:
~ the usual personal gear for a full day out in the mountains
~ compass
~ watch
~ mapcase (essential because the contour-only maps are not waterproof. Ortlieb is best)
~ 1:25000 map (OL6, Lake District SW sheet)
We will be using contour-only maps which we will provide, and which you can keep at the end of the day.

Useful blog posts::
How to Navigate Like a Pro
So What Do You Actually Do On A Contour Masterclass?
What's The Future For Maps?
5 Reasons Why You Should Learn To Navigate Using Contours

What do our clients say about us?

I thoroughly enjoyed my day. Chris has years of knowledge to impart. He has an easy going yet clear way of approaching the learning experience making absorption of new information quick and enjoyable. Thank you.
Alvina Labsvirs, October 2016

A very simple but effective approach to navigation using contours only and incorporating other strategies to support this. I particularly enjoyed the discussions on movement and walking on different types of terrain and have started coaching pupils in my DofE groups these techniques with the aim to increasing their stamina on expeditions. Chris is clearly a knowledgeable and passionate mountaineer and is keen to support and encourage others. It was great discussing Chris' passion for other mountaineering areas outside the Lake District such as Skye and the Cairngorms.
Andrew Wilson, March 2017

I thoroughly enjoyed this day. The group size (6) was perfect and we all seemed to have very similar goals which was good. At the start of the day we were handed the contour map - which I initially found really disorientating! However, thanks to Chris's excellent teaching I soon began to make sense of it all - and to be honest, by the end of the day it seemed like a perfectly 'normal' map. The usual maps seemed ridiculously cluttered in comparison. Although we didn't cover a huge distance on our feet, we learned a lot, concentrating on the lie of the land around us at each small stage. Thank you Chris!
Kaye Cantlay, March 2017

This was like three CPD days in one, with a little of movement on steep ground as well as flora and fauna, but neither of these detracted from the main focus of the day which was the excellent Contour Masterclass. In fact they were excellent distractions to make us constantly relocate! A brilliant day all round. I can't thank Chris enough - I have since been up in the central Highlands putting so much of what we learned on that day into practice. Thank you!
Euan Mackenzie, September 2017

I learnt a lot and feel far more confident about using those tiny bumps and blips on the map now!
Caroline Larkman, September 2017

Booking procedure was straight forward and the information and updates provided were excellent. The course programme covered everything I was looking for plus the added bonus of tips on movement. I shall never walk the same way again! Initially, looking at a map with just contours marked was daunting but by the end of the day I felt I had a significant addition to improving my navigation skills. It was a pleasure to spend the day with Chris. His easy relaxed manner made it a great learning experience and I have taken so many tips from the day that I can work on leading up to the ML assessment.
Ian Barnes, September 2017

Chris was fantastic - a great wealth of knowledge and experience, and passing on useful information not only in navigation but with flora and movement as well.
Ross Gellatly, May 2018

Chris is a true professional who has mastered his craft to the highest level.
Mike Hide, May 2018

The programme was excellent, with plenty to challenge the mind and not just on the topic of the day but loads of other excellent feedback and knowledge dispensed. Straightforward and enlightening instruction at every given opportunity. I had a great fun but learnt loads at the same time and the criticism was great even though it hurt (to be made to stand straight !!). Well done Chris for highlighting it in such a constructive way . Thanks so much for a great day.
Stuart Bratton, August 2018

Quick communication and really helpful with letting me know about a cancellation place which had occurred and fitted with my availability. Excellent programme covering the aspects of steep ground and group management skills required by ML assessors. The course also included some additional information which is not required on ML assessment but would be useful for anyone out leading groups in the mountains to be aware of. A really enjoyable day out in the mountains. Chris is obviously extremely knowledgeable and experienced. He provided a wealth of information, he was patient and understanding that everyone learns differently when delivering the course content. He was also aware when brain saturation had occurred towards the end of the day. I really like the way Chris delivers his courses and was glad it was a small group which didn't require an additional instructor on the day. I love your dog!
Liane Shaw, March 2019

three people navigating in the mountains using contour-only maps - Chris Ensoll Mountain Guide