Why book a navigation course?

We run navigation courses from beginner to advanced in the Forest of Dean and Brecon Beacons areas. Our attendees tend to fall into 2 groups: those who want to gain confidence and those who have a specific target in mind.
Attendees on our courses often tell us that they’d love to get out and explore more. The barrier to this is usually confidence. We hear the same statements regularly, but none of them will stop you from learning to navigate.

• ‘My Ex always did the map reading’. Anybody can learn the fundamentals of navigation, even after a lifetime of following other people.
• ‘I always get lost’. Getting lost is a good start! It means you’re getting out and exploring. Everybody who gets off the beaten track has managed to get lost a few times over the years.
• ‘I wouldn’t know what to do if it went wrong’. Recognising an error is the first step to putting it right. After that, simple techniques that can be taught will get you back on track.
• ‘I have no sense of direction’. It’s often harder to teach somebody who thinks they do have a natural sense of direction! They can be fooled into ignoring the techniques and skills they have, heading off the wrong way instead of trusting their map.

Who needs navigation training?

The second group we meet on our navigation course are usually preparing for a specific goal. ‘I want to learn to map read for a mountain marathon’. ‘I want to become a HF Holidays Walk Leader’. ‘I need to improve navigation for my Mountain Leader assessment’. Motivated learners usually get the most out of a course, so think carefully about whether it’s what you need.

What will I learn on a navigation course?

It depends! For introductory courses, you can expect to learn about orientating a map (pointing it the right way), following straight line features, estimating distances and the basics of contours. On an intermediate course, you should be looking more at using a compass and recognising the shape of the land more, rather than following paths and tracks. Advanced navigation involves drilling down into the finer details of the map and understanding the minor squiggles and bumps of the landscape. Whichever level you need, your course should be practical and hands on in nature rather than classroom based.

But I can’t read a map!

Refer back to the point above! Pretty much anybody can learn to read a map and explore more! Don’t worry if you feel you don’t have the necessary experience, you won’t be the only one. Once you’re on a course you’ll soon find other people feeling just the same as you.

What will I get out of a navigation course?

Confidence! While it’s entirely possible to learn many navigation techniques from a book or video, some people prefer having a real person, face to face, to check with. If you prefer to have the reassurance of somebody to check your decisions and reassure you that you’ve got it right, then a course might be the best way forward for you.

The best place to practice navigation

The UK is blessed with a huge variety of landscapes with good access rights. The right place to practice probably depends on your access to transport as well as which skills you’re aiming to develop. We usually advise learners to practice in their local area, seeing the landscape in a new light with a map in hand. Beyond that, for detailed contour interpretation its usually best to head into the open moors and mountains such as the Brecon Beacons, Dartmoor, Peak District and Lake District.
Wherever you go, navigation practice is a great excuse to get out into the countryside more often!