January 31, 2014

Tips To Help With Navigation

1. Introduction
Every year, tourists and walkers get into trouble due navigation errors. If you intend to go into the hills, it is essential that you plan the walk using appropriate maps of the area. Both Ordnance Survey and Harvey's produce maps that are detailed and easy to read.
Estimate how long your walk should take, and also consider:
·         Steepness of the Ground - is there much ascent/descent?
·         Terrain - what is the terrain like underfoot?
·         Weather - bad weather and poor visibility can dramatically affect estimated times
·         Rivers and Streams - crossing may become impossible after heavy rain.
2. Planning Ahead
If you are a first time visitor to the area, do some research.
If you lack confidence in the use a map and compass, seek instruction and continue practising until you are competent in all weathers.
A compass with a long baseplate  is much better when it comes to taking bearings. We recommend Silva compasses, particularly the Expedition 4. You may find it useful to note any important bearings that you may require on the walk.
Have a plan B. Conditions may deteriorate, or circumstances may change. Returning to base can often be the best option; the hill will be there another day. Leave details of your proposed route with a responsible person, and don't forget to contact them on your return.
3. On The Hill
Keep a check on your position. Tick off features as you pass them, and check your direction. If unsure of your location, return to your last confirmed location and re adjust. Do not wait until you are "temporarily misplaced" to do this.
4. In Poor Visibility
If mist or cloud begins to close in, note the ground features, estimate their position and distance from you and judge how long it will take you to reach them. Use a combination of timing, pacing, and a bearing. Contours can be a good friend in this situation. They are particularly useful in winter, when many smaller features such as sheepfolds may be under snow.
Use the same techniques if you become "temporarily misplaced".
Have a safety bearing: what bearing will get you safely off the hill?
Don't panic. If need be, get yourself in a group shelter, have a drink, and take stock.
5. Important Points to Remember
·         Study the map and plan your route so that you know where you want to go and how long it will take
·         Always set the map in relation to the ground
·         Learn to use the compass before you need to use it for real
·         Have the map and compass to hand during the walk
·         Check your position regularly - know where you are
·         If you leave a note of your intended route and time of return with a responsible person, remember to check in with them

If you would like to improve your navigational skills, book a place on one of our courses. We have one day courses available which are suitable for beginners, or as a refresher. We also run  two day NNAS courses at Bronze and Silver Level.