Trainee Leader Programme

The Trainee Leader Programme is a selective course for the next generation of expedition leaders looking to level up their experience and lead in a challenging environment.

If you have an interest in Expeditions and taking on professional outdoor leadership roles in the future then this is the course for you. You will gain both specialist and transferable leaderships skills as well as gain relevant industry qualifications, develop practical expedition leadership skills and invaluable in-field experience. Candidates will complete a series of modules in the UK and overseas including participation in a challenging 6-week overseas expedition to destinations including the Peruvian Amazon, Canadian Yukon or Indian Himalayas.

To download the programme info pack click here.


Click on your preferred link below to apply to be a Trainee Leader on our Amazon, Himalaya or Yukon expeditions.

Apply Amazon TL 2018

Apply Himalaya TL 2018 

Apply Yukon TL 2018

What's involved

• Mountain Leader (Summer) Training Course delivered by the National Mountain Centre at Plas Y Brenin
• RGS (IBG) Off Site Safety Management
• Expedition First Aid (16 hour)
Level 1 NWSMP - Water Safety Management (accredited through the Royal Lifesaving Society)
• Guidance and advice from experienced expedition leaders.
• Insight into the logistics surrounding planning and delivering an expedition.
• In-field expedition leadership experience.

Expedition breakdown

Cost: £4,950 
Duration: 6-week expedition (departing as part of the advance party)  
Locations: Amazon, Yukon or Himalayas
Includes: A series of UK training residentials in the Spring followed by 6 weeks on expedition Certification post expedition worth over £1000 (Excludes international flights, transport for residential weekends & personal kit) 
Age Range: 18 - 35 

Graduate Testimony: James Borrell

"British Exploring gave me my first taste of adventure with purpose, totally changing what I wanted to do with my life. If it wasn't for the training and experienced I developed with British Exploring, I'm certain I wouldn't have had the skills or confidence to eventually lead my own expedition. It also gave me the opportunity to help give that life changing experience to the next group of young people"

Click here to read more about James and for more testimonials from our graduates. 


The Programme is designed for those looking to take the opportunity to use their passion for the outdoors and develop their natural leadership capability. You will gain relevant skills, mentorship and experience. It is our hope that you will become the next generation of expedition leaders.  

In order to be ready to make the most out of the Trainee Leader course, applicants should already have had the following experiences:

Active Leadership  

Candidates should be able to demonstrate prior experience of active leadership. Previous trainee leaders have held positions of leadership at youth organisations including the Scouts, the Guides or the Combined Cadet Force, leadership positions at their school, or captained or coached a sport including outdoor and water sports.

Overseas Experience  

In order to have the confidence and skills to lead we do require previous overseas experience. Candidates must have experience of at least one of the following:
a. Overseas expedition (minimum duration - 3 weeks)
b. Independent travel (minimum single trip duration - 4 weeks)
c. Overseas fieldwork or equivalent (minimum duration 2-3 weeks)

Outdoor Experience  

Our Trainee Leaders, in addition to our leaders, must have a passion for the outdoors and we would expect them to be active in the UK (e.g. hill-walking, camping, climbing, kayaking). Candidates will normally be expected to have been mountain walking in the UK for at least 1 year prior to signing up to the course.

Mountain Leader Pre-requisites  

Before embarking on the Mountain Leader Training course, all Trainee Leaders must have;
- Registered with the Mountain Leader Training Board and set up your Digital Logbook (Dlog)
- A member of a mountaineering council (eg. The BMC, Mountaineering Scotland or Mountaineering Ireland) Recorded 20
Quality Mountain Days in your log book  


These qualifications along with the personal experiences you will undertake will provide you with a suite of recognised professional qualifications that will give you a step up into the expedition leading world. 

The Mountain Leader (summer)  

The Mountain Leader scheme is designed for people who want to lead groups in the mountains, hills and moorlands of the UK and Ireland and offers valuable transferrable skills for those wishing to lead further afield. For many organisations and providers of overseas expeditions it is viewed as a highly desirable and in some cases essential pre-requisite for professional expedition leadership. The course covers everything from equipment to navigation and weather systems to emergency use of a rope in steep terrain. For further details relating to the Mountain Leader course see the Mountain Leader Training Board (MLTB) website

The Expedition First Aid Course  

Delivered through leading industry providers this 16hr nationally recognised first aid course specifically designed for expedition leaders. Content includes the standard protocols for emergency first aid, CPR, dealing with wounds and fractures, incident management, as well as specific procedures and theory around expedition related injuries and illnesses, prevention, treatment and management.

Off Site Safety Management Course  

This is a course recognised by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) as the standard for teachers, youth leaders and expedition leaders planning safe educational Off-Site trips. It includes planning, risk assessment, safety systems, legal considerations, incident management, reviewing and learning lessons.

How is the course designed?

Following a competitive selection process which includes a competency based interview, the course is delivered through 6 modules. This includes pre-expedition training weekends, practical field experience, reflective learning sessions and feedback. To support your development there will be independent assignments and a curated reading list. You will receive mentor-ship from experienced expedition leaders throughout the process and gain a unique insight into the logistics surrounding planning and delivering an expedition.

The Programme culminates in you putting what you have learnt into practice on an extended 6-week expedition to one of our open expeditions – in 2018 this will be to the Indian Himalayas, Peruvian Amazon or the Canadian Yukon. During expedition you will be part of a fire (group) working alongside the Leadership team to deliver a transformational expedition. It is designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge to train others in safe expedition skills, plan expeditions and take on leadership roles as part of an expedition team.

Modules 1 to 4 will be delivered during the spring of 2018, offering Trainee Leaders a raft of valuable skills and knowledge to take with them on the overseas expedition phase. Please note, dates for the following modules have not yet been finalised but will be scheduled to take place over weekends and during academic holidays where possible. It is expected that final dates will be published in September 2017.

Module 1: Introduction  

Date: 23rd-25th March 2018
Location: Lake District TBC
An intense two-day training in leadership and practical expedition skills. You will learn expedition planning, camp craft, navigation skills and safety, and risk assessments.

Module 2: Briefing Weekend  

Date: 13-15th April 2018
Location: Oxfordshire
Explorer Briefing Weekend: This weekend is designed to brief the Explorers with the knowledge they need before embarking on expedition. You will be an integral part of the weekend and will put your new knowledge into practice, helping to design and deliver sessions and ice-breakers.

Module 3: Expedition First Aid  

Date: 12th-13th May 2018
Location: TBC
First Aid Course: A highly comprehensive 16hr nationally recognised first aid course specifically designed for expedition leaders and delivered by industry specialists.

Module 4: Mountain Leader Training Course  

Date: 26th May – 1st June 2018
Location: National Mountain Centre at Plas Y Brenin
Accompanied by instructors from the National Mountain Centre at Plas Y Brenin, the team will complete the Mountain Leader training course; the first step in becoming a fully qualified Mountain Leader.

Module 5: Six-week expedition  

Date: +/- 20th July – 29th August
Location: Peru, India or Canada
Going out as part of the advance party you will help finalise logistics in-country before embarking into the field to help construct Base Camp. During this time you could be leading and running training sessions, helping with logistics in Base Camp, developing science projects, debriefing and reviewing with young people or assisting in leading groups through the expedition. You will continue your own leadership development journey with frequent mentoring and coaching with your Trainee Leader Mentor.

Module 6: Debrief, Off Site Safety Management and Water Safety  

Date: 5th- 7th October 2018 (TBC)
Location: TBC
The final part of your incredible nine-month journey. On this weekend, you will complete your Off-Site Safety Management course and get the opportunity to add an additional couple of days to your ML log book.

Graduating from the TL course

Graduates from past British Exploring TL programmes have chosen to pursue their expedition ambitions in a range of ways on completion. Many have continued to expand their experience through independent travel and expeditions around the world, some have taken up roles working as outdoors instructors in the UK and still more have specialised in scientific research and used their TL experience to deliver field research projects around the world, furthering our knowledge of the world around us.

Many TL graduates go on to work for British Exploring as Assistant Leaders, and ultimately Adventure Leaders. Whilst being a TL doesn’t guarantee you a place on one of our future expeditions, we will always try to invest in the career progression of our TL graduates; could you be a Chief Leader of tomorrow?

Who is the course delivered by?

The Course Director is James Dyer, former Operations Manager at British Exploring and a veteran of expedition leadership. James is an experienced and professional expedition leader. He has set up and led expeditions and adventurous projects across the world for a wide range of client groups from young people, adults, scientists and TV production companies. His background is in outdoor and adventurous sports coaching and instructing, and he has been involved in developing young people and expedition leaders for nearly 20 years. 

In addition to James, the course is delivered by a range of expedition professionals and subject specialists including the team at the National Mountain Centre, Plas Y Brenin. Whilst on expedition you will have a dedicated Trainee Leader Mentor who will coach you throughout your time on expedition.
See a full interview with James here.