Recommended navigation courses

Discussion in 'Hiking Chat' started by CEves, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. CEves

    CEves Summit Camper

    I'm wondering if anyone could recommend a decent summer navigation course.

    I carry the little Cicerone book on navigation techniques around with me, as my understanding gets a bit rusty between trips and I'm trying not to be too GPS reliant.

    However, it was a hike from Glenfinnan to Inverie that made me think that some proper training might be in order. I was walking alone and the lower level hike to Inverie was easy going and completely within my ability. I'd planned to round off the trip by climbing Ladhar Bheinn, but when I reached it I found myself struggling with the lack of clear paths. Whilst the weather was clear, the forecast wasn't perfect and about a third of the way up I decided to turn back as I felt out of my depth.

    I'm glad that I didn't push too far when it might have got into trouble, although as it happened the forecast rain never materialised. But of course it was a bit of a disappointing end to the trip.

    This experience made me realise that, on the whole, my hill walking experience has tended towards clear paths in well walked places and I'm a bit under prepared for crossing the wider and less populated open spaces of Scotland.

    I've found that Glenmore Lodge have some decent options, and they've suggested completing both their Discover Navigation Skills and Further Navigation Skills one day courses over a weekend. It's a real trek there from London though, with the choice of either the fairly extortionate Sleeper Train or a couple of days off work to travel via the standard train.

    I'm wondering if anyone taken any similar courses in the Lakes and could recommend someone? Although of course, perhaps Scotland would be the best place to learn about Scottish navigation... :rolleyes:

    Thanks for your help!
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  2. Shewie

    Shewie Administrator Staff Member

    I did my summer ML training around the Wasdale area with these guys 18 months ago ...

    I thoroughly enjoyed the week and learnt so much, I would imagine their weekend courses are equally as fulfilling
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  3. Diddi

    Diddi Thru Hiker

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  4. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    I don't think you need to go to Scotland to learn to navigate Scottish Hills. It's not like the techniques are any different.

    Any open hill or even moorland country is suitable for the bulk of actual navigation training. Once the principles become sucessfully understood and established in your practice, they be applied to the bigger hills. Obviously, there are types of terrain which are more rocky/vertical and require extra skills or different travelling techniques, but there is nothing to be gained with an all or nothing approach to learning.

    Many good training providers all over the country. The MLTE website should have a list.

    I'd start off somewhere convenient to get to.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
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  5. Scottk

    Scottk Trail Blazer

    Plas y Brenin is closer than Glenmore. National training centre and they do a 2 day hill skills course.
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  6. dovidola

    dovidola Section Hiker

    Mole always gives sound advice, and I'm sure you'll learn from any course you embrace.

    I found that the lessons that really stuck the most were the ones I learnt on my own. Forget the GPS (although use it by all means once you're good with the old fashioned methods), and concentrate on relating everything you see on the ground to what your map can tell you (in conjunction with your compass). There is (in the UK at least) no terrain so featureless that you can't be doing this all of the time. Don't think of the map as a navigational tool, but rather as a linear expression of terrain - you will know you have achieved this when you can sit in an armchair at home, open an OS map, and really visualise the terrain it is describing.

    Paths therefore become secondary, at times even a distraction, and you will feel more confident when there is no path than when there is one. Wainwright hinted at this when he said that an abundance of paths caused more problems than its opposite. Paths can lead you astray.

    You are also blessed with a healthy instinct for self-preservation, evidenced by your having the good sense to retreat from your Knoydart foray when you were not happy with the way things were working out. That's probably the most valuable navigational skill of all.
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  7. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    This book may help a lot with nav, whatever you decide to do..whether self teaching or going on a course. A very well written book IMO.

    Agree with above, there is no substitute from going out and doing it. Lose that GPS and just use it to confrim your location if needed.

    Practice your nav away from paths, main ridges and features. Try to switch away from 1:25k to 1:50 if you use that most.... it makes you concentrate more on contour lines and the actual shape of the land as your walking. Features are unreliable and easily missed, contour lines don't lie.... you can feel them under your feet in any conditions. With timing, pacing and knowing how fast you walk in different terrains with different loads and levels of tiredness, you'll find nav becomes increasingly reliable and accurate.

    Once your happy to do so, do some night nav....that will up your game a lot.

    FWIW, I did my SML training in Scotland. We were strongly advised to do the vast majority of our training up to assessment in Scotland and much less 'darn sarf' , as we all knew how to climb a 10 inch pint of Shandy in the sun and jump a gate. :)
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  8. SafetyThird

    SafetyThird Section Hiker

    slightly related, flying to Inverness can be really cheap. last November, 3 of us flew Bristol to Inverness return for a grand total of £112 with easyjet.
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  9. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    You should checkout NNIS website, courses around the country.
    I personally think that navigation across places like the Peak district, Beacons, N.York moors can be more taxing than a lot of areas in Scotland.
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  10. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    @SafetyThird ..that piqued my interest. Just checked..flying from Luton to Inverness in June is £44.
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  11. dovidola

    dovidola Section Hiker

    It's a great way of getting to the Highlands. I used to use it when I was more pushed for time. 0900 Luton departure. Packed up in the hire car at Inverness for 1100. Tesco superstore near the airport to load up on supplies. Outdoor shop in Inverness for gas/meths and any 'forgotten' bits of gear. Late lunch. On the mountain mid-afternoon, hopefully in glorious weather with sunset not until 2300.

    If the trip is in excess of a week, the cost of car hire (if you need it) outstrips the savings made elsewhere.

    These days I like to go for longer, and to take MORE KIT, so it's the long leisurely drive and an overnight B&B stop usually.
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  12. SafetyThird

    SafetyThird Section Hiker

    We booked a rental car for the week for under £100, can't remember the exact amount. Between 3 of us it was a cheap few days doing a course we couldn't do anywhere else for 6 months.
  13. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    It appeals. I'm finding that driving the length of the country gets increasingly time consuming, costly and less fun. It's a big saving on time and also money. I hear you on the kit though and that's the biggest reason I usually drive. It wouldn't be a consideration in winter for me, but summer with lighter kit and food is much more practical.
  14. dovidola

    dovidola Section Hiker

    There used to be an even nicer way of doing it. Back in British Rail days they had a scheme called Motorail. You paid full whack for the sleeper (with cabin) from Euston and woke up in Scotland. Your car came for free on a trailer-carriage. Very civilised indeed.
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  15. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    From Inverness the bus to Ullapool is only an hour 20, and will set down in some wild country along the way.
    From Ullapool there is a bus north thru' Assynt but not sure how often.
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  16. OwenM

    OwenM Ultralighter

    There's also the Durness community bus goes Inverness to Durness but not everyday.
  17. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    The bus broke down on the way back from Durness last time I caught one up there, took 8 hours or so to get back to Inverness. :biggrin:
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  18. Shewie

    Shewie Administrator Staff Member

    Who knew that last day on the CWT would be the most challenging of the whole trip :banghead:

    Mind, running 4km in Vivos with a full pack wasn't the best way to start :walkingdead: :nurse: :inpain:
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  19. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    :roflmao: Those sound of blue Vivo's slapping down the road removing flesh with every pace.... It'll live with me forever:biggrin: And the bus was late....Didn't we do the last 12 miles of supposedly hardest nav of the trip in a couple of hours and then couldn't find the right bus number in Inverness? :)
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  20. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    Sandwood Bay to CW Lighthouse ?? ….. navigation !! :cautious: - don't you just keep the sea on your left and try to avoid the worst bits of bog ?? :confused::biggrin::whistling::wink:
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  21. Shewie

    Shewie Administrator Staff Member

    Aye, we seemed to do okay for two weeks in the boondocks, it only started going pear shaped when we got back to civilisation, schedules, and people :)
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  22. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    There are better bits of bog? :D
    No, it wasn't particularly taxing..I think the map got put away after 2 miles. It certainly didn't match it's infamy but then it was good weather that day and aiming for a lighthouse you can see isn't hard. It would be a very different place in bad weather with it's lack of features and contours. Hugging the coast not the greatest idea with a strong wind and no vis either, reminded me of Dartmoor.

    Always the way mate. One day, we'll learn not to come back. :)
  23. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    This route across the Parph Peninsular (Cape Wrath) is on my 'like to do' list - except I'd want to return along the coast to Sandwood (somehow :o o:).
    Seems not all of it is bog :D.
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  24. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    That looks an absolutely cracking trip that has to be done sometime. :thumbsup: A bit rushed though for me, Cape Wrath is easily worthy of a week. I couldn't go that far without a night at Sandwood and also one at Kearvaig (preferably a whole day at each)
    cathyjc likes this.
  25. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    Visited Sandwood once 30yrs ago. Windy, cold, remote and fairly unknown with a very boggy path :D.
    Kervaig I used to take the kids for 3-4 days each summer - very fond memories. Now that place is well known and much too busy in summer.

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