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What is a climbing permit?

The adventurous activity permit scheme is designed to ensure that only people with the relevant skills and experience lead adventurous activities for the young people in Scouting. Therefore all activities classed as adventurous can only be led by someone holding the appropriate permit. Additionally young people (under 18) can take part in adventurous activities for themselves with personal activity permits.

Click here to visit the Scout Association's information on Climbing. 

A climbing permit is required for all climbing and abseiling activities, except bouldering and those using auto belay systems.

Getting Started

Training Courses

If you are an adult in Scouting and have an interest in becoming a climbing instructor in Scouting, then all you need to do is have a read through our website and sign up to one of our climbing training courses

If you are an artificial climbing permit holder or have extensive experience and wish to further your skills to allow you to become a climbing instructor for natural rock climbing, then all you need to do is have a read through our website and sign up to one of our climbing training courses.

If you are an Explorer Scout or Young Leader and have an interest in becoming a climbing instructor in Scouting or obtaining a personal climbing permit, then all you need to do is have a read through our website and then contact the team's administrator


If you have already attended one of our courses or have extensive experience then please click on the link below to apply for an assessment:

Climbing Assessment Application Form

Permit Categories

There are five permit categories available for climbing. These are:

  • Artificial Top Rope
  • Natural Top Rope
  • Artificial Lead
  • Natural Lead
  • Multi-Pitch

Each permit can be restricted (such as through specific locations, no abseiling, etc.) to the competence of any individual. 

All natural rock permits cover the equivalent artificial permits, unless restrictions state otherwise.

Types of Permit

There are three types of permit available for climbing. These are:

Personal – Allows a young person (under 18) to take part in climbing with other youth members who also hold a personal climbing permit.

Leadership – Allows the permit holder to lead climbing for a single group.

Supervisory - Allows the permit holder to supervise more than one climbing group.

Permit Limitations

Personal – If you hold a personal climbing permit you can go climbing with other youth members (under 18) who also hold a personal climbing permit. Climbing undertaken must only be to the level of the person with the lowest permit held within the activity group. It does not allow you to go climbing with anyone not holding a climbing permit.

Leadership – If you have a leadership permit for top rope climbing you can lead up to two top rope climbing systems at a time, unless a restriction is in place reducing the number of ropes to one.

If you have a leadership permit for lead climbing, you can lead one climbing rope system at a time.

If you have a leadership permit to lead multi-pitch climbing you can lead one rope system at a time.

Supervisory – If you hold a permit to supervise climbing then you can supervise up to three rope systems at a time. You should remain in a position to be able to effectively supervise and assist all rope systems. You remain responsible for all the groups you are supervising, but can designate someone with the appropriate skills to be the rope leader of each group.
Note: No supervisory permit is available for multi-pitch climbing.


When supervising more than one rope system, the holder of a climbing supervisory permit needs to designate a rope leader for each group. This rope leader can then act as the belayer. This designation lasts only for the current activity while the permit holder is supervising.

People designated as rope leaders should hold the relevant skills; including being able to competently belay, and be responsible enough to lead the rope system that has been set up. There is no problem with making young people rope leaders if they are up to the role, and it can be used as a useful development tool to encourage people to work towards gaining permits.

Climbing and Hillwalking

Where any element of climbing involves walking in Terrain One or Terrain Two then the relevant Hillwalking Permit is required by a member of the group. This includes walking to or from a climbing area.


The weather can create risks for all adventurous activities. Permit holders should know where to find local weather information and should take historical weather conditions into consideration. Knowledge of weather conditions relevant to climbing is included in the assessment checklist.

National Governing Body Awards

If you're involved with climbing in any way shape or form, then it is likely you would have heard of the Single Pitch Award (SPA), Rock Climbing Instructor (RCI), Climbing Wall Award (CWA) and Climbing Wall Instructor (CWI) etc. 

These are awards achieved through the national governing body for climbing and mountaineering, Mountain Training

Click here to find out a bit more. 

Upcoming events

belmont house
7th - 8th September 2024

Explorer Climbing - Peak District
13th - 15th September 2024

District Camp - Cudham Shaws
27th - 29th September 2024

medway district
28th September 2024