Navigation Courses

Our National Navigation Award Scheme Courses are run all year round, usually within Northumberland National Park, but we are happy to provide them in the Lake District or Yorkshire Dales, if you prefer.

Navigation courses can help you to:

  • Enhance your enjoyment of the countryside
  • Develop sound navigation skills and practice including planning your own walking routes
  • Gain confidence at map reading whether the weather is clear or misty
  • Achieve a personal performance award in navigation at the NNAS Bronze, Silver or Gold Levels, validated to a national standard.

Bronze and Silver and Gold Courses are run over two days.

We are also Providers of the Young Navigator Star Award (YNSA) which encourages youngsters to actively learn outside the classroom.

One-day (not NNAS) and Night navigation courses are also available.

Are you preparing for an ML Assessment, or maybe been deferred on your navigation? We can tailor a day or days to suit your requirements.

One day courses

On one day courses, we cover as much as possible in a day, or tailor the day to suit the needs of the participants.

Typically, we will cover the following:

  • Setting the map
  • Thumbing the map
  • Pacing and timing
  • Estimating distance
  • Grid references
  • Relocation strategies
  • Use of the compass.

Important: candidates undertaking an NNAS Course will have their details added to the Online Candidate Management System. This can be done in one of two ways:

1. The candidate may sign up to the Management System themselves, and create an account.

2. This can be done on by us on their behalf, if permission is given by completing a Participant Consent Form.

Bronze NNAS Award

The Bronze National Navigation Award is a practical hands-on award.

It is aimed at people with no navigation experience whether you are new to the outdoors or have been relying on others, guidebooks or easy well-defined routes.

It is also the starting point for many Duke of Edinburgh students, scouts and guides and cadet groups who are looking to develop their outdoor skills. NNAS Bronze award is accredited by the Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework (SCQF) at Level 4, and 2 SCQF credit points are awarded on completion.

The syllabus of the Bronze National Navigation Award teaches navigation in the countryside using paths tracks and other linear features. Basic map interpretation and compass work is also included.

Bronze Navigator Award Syllabus

Navigate using a variety of maps and scales.
Use 4 and 6 figure grid references with worded descriptions to define the position of a map feature and to locate a feature on the ground.
Orientate the map using handrails, obvious point features and major landforms.
Use linear features (e.g. paths, tracks, clear boundaries) as handrails in simple navigation exercises.
Relate prominent landforms such as large hills and valleys to corresponding contour information on the map.
Orientate the map by aligning a compass needle against grid north and be aware that magnetic variation causes an inaccuracy.
Use an orientated map to confirm the direction of travel.
Use clearly identifiable features to confirm position along the route and to recognise when the target has been overshot.
Measure horizontal distance on the map and estimate distance on the ground using timing, pacing and simple visual judgements e.g.100m.
Plan and implement simple routes and navigation strategies based on the above skills.
Recognise a navigation error within a few minutes and apply simple relocation techniques using handrails and prominent features.
Demonstrate an awareness of local and national access issues, access legislation, personal responsibilities and the Countryside Code.
Demonstrate appropriate knowledge of walking equipment, safety equipment and emergency procedures.

Silver NNAS Award

The Silver National Navigation Award develops the navigation skills acquired at the Bronze level.

It adds skills required to navigate to features and places some distance from paths and tracks. It teaches accurate compass work. It will also teach you to select the suitable navigational techniques to cross open country.

Silver Navigator Award Syllabus

Utilise the skills and techniques of the Bronze Award in the context of Silver Award navigation strategies.
Relate small hills, small valleys, prominent re-entrants and prominent spurs to their corresponding map contours. Use prominent hills, ridges, spurs and valleys as a means of navigation in good visibility.
Use landforms and point features to orientate the map and as collecting and catching features.
Use a compass to: Accurately follow a bearing; aim off; check the direction of handrails and other linear features.
Deviate briefly from a compass bearing to avoid obstacles or difficult terrain and accurately regain the original line.
Use back bearings to check route following accuracy.
Measure distance on the ground in varied, open terrain using timing and pacing and make practical allowances for any discrepancies.
Simplify legs using coarse navigation, attack points and fine navigation.
Recognise dangerous or difficult terrain on map and ground.
Plan and implement navigational strategies based on the above skills.
Maintain route finding accuracy in poor visibility or darkness.
Recognise a navigation error within a few minutes and apply appropriate relocation techniques.
Understand how personal fitness and nature of terrain affect route choice both at the planning stage and on the ground.
Understand the potential consequences of fatigue and physical discomfort in demanding terrain and/or extreme weather conditions.
Select appropriate clothing, equipment and first aid items for walking in open country in all weather conditions.
Demonstrate an understanding of the Countryside Code, current access legislation and the environmental impact of walkers on the countryside.
Understand the responsibilities of walkers towards other countryside interests such as farming, forestry and conservation.

Gold NNAS Award

The Gold Navigator Award builds on the skills acquired at the Bronze and Silver levels and adds techniques and skills for dealing with complex contour features both large and small.

The Gold National Navigation Award has recently been review and updated, and now includes pre- and post- course question papers. These will be given to candidates when they book with their chosen course Provider.

Gold courses are run by Course Directors who not only have plenty of top-level navigation experience but also have been on a special NNAS-run course in tutoring Gold courses.

Gold NNAS Syllabus

Utilise the skills and techniques of the Bronze and Silver Awards in the context of Gold National Navigation Award navigation strategies.
Utilise contours and fine detail as the prime method of navigation.
Accurately: Follow a route, judge distance, check progress against time, use relevant compass skills and maintain continuous map contact.
Use back bearings and transits to confirm the current position.
Use aspect of slope as an aid to relocation.
Select appropriate techniques within an overall navigation strategy.
Navigate in intricate terrain in reduced visibility i.e. mist or darkness.
Select an appropriate, safe route in relation to height gain and loss, dangerous terrain and other major hazards.
Assess the route ahead in the field in relation to prevailing conditions or changing circumstances (e.g. weather, time, daylight, ability/fitness) and re-plan the route appropriately if necessary.
Shorten a route, use an escape route and know emergency procedures.
Recognise the occurrence of a navigational error within a few minutes and apply appropriate relocation techniques.
Select appropriate clothing, equipment and first aid for walking in remote areas in all weather conditions.
Understand the physical demands created by hill and moorland terrain in all weather conditions.
Understand the effects of cold, heat, fatigue and discomfort on decision making and execution of a selected route.
Understand the implications of climate change on the outdoor environment and be knowledgeable in practical steps to mitigate its effect.
Understand the pros and cons of appropriate electronic navigation devices and describe/demonstrate their use in the context of Gold terrain.


The cost of NNAS Courses (two days) is £130.00 per person.

One Day Courses £75.00 per person.

Discounts available for groups.

Ratios for NNAS Courses 1:8 for Bronze and Silver, 1:4 for Gold.

Please note: a minimum of two candidates are required for a Course to go ahead.

All courses are run by qualified Mountain Leaders, with many years experience in all areas of the UK, in all weather conditions. We do not have huge amounts of clients on navigation courses, hence ample time can be spent with each person, ensuring they have the opportunity to practice, and understand what they have been taught.

Kit list and course programme will be sent out on confirmation of booking. The meeting place for navigation courses in Northumberland, will be Clennell Hall Country House, Alwinton, NE65 7BG, where there is ample parking. We will have tea/coffee and cover some theory before spending the rest of the day on the hill. We will return to Clennell Hall Country House at the end of each day for a debrief, and refreshments.

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