Thursday 2 May 2013

Lake District Navigation skills training course. April 28th & 28th 2013.

Last weekend, Kendal Mountaineering Services ran their first Lake District Mountain Navigation skills training course of the season.

This map reading & navigation skills training course was fully subscribed with 10 persons attending from around the country - some from as far away as Sussex & Surrey.

Day one started with our looking at the importance of  Map Orientation, tick off features and measuring distance/pacing distance. After lunch we moved on to the skill of taking a bearing from map to ground and photo one sees our party having successfully navigated to a small pool of water on relatively featureless terrain. As can be seen it was a lovely sunny day although it had started off with snow on the fells in the background and a chill northerly breeze.

Photo two shows our participants preparing to find the next location on the map. Iain had presented grid references to the group over lunch and they were now all able to locate a point using a 6 figure grid reference.

In this photo everyone is working out the bearing & distance to the next grid reference as part of our map reading & navigation skills training progression.

The nice thing about this particular Lake District based Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course was that everyone had come in pairs wanting to learn map reading & navigation skills so that they can subsequently go out and enjoy walking - without getting lost! Working in pairs is a good thing as it gives people the opportunity interact and share information & knowledge and you nearly always find that some people will pick up an aspect of skills training better than  others. In this group, as well as Iain coaching Navigation & Map Reading Skills overall, people within each pair could coach each other too - it worked really well!

Day one of our Lake District Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course finished at 5pm with everyone having progressed through Map Orientation, tick off features, measuring & pacing distance, Grid References through to walking on a bearing using a compass.

Two of our party - Tom & Phil had also booked in to a night navigation session with Iain and photo three sees the pair at their first grid reference - the trig point on Brunt Knott.

We went on to look for a number of landform features and a stream junction before heading back for a quick pint at the Eagle & Child in Staveley. The night navigation session lasted around 3 hours and fortunately for the pair, the weather was clear & dry with only a light northly breeze - you could even make out Blackpool Tower away to the south.

Night navigation is harder than the daylight option. On this session, visibility was good and even only by the light of headtorch one could see several hundred metres - imagine what it is like in cloud! During night navigation, the sense of sight is greatly reduced meaning that you have to be spot on with your pacings and walking on a bearing. Tom & Phil did very well for their first go at this skill which is not an easy thing to achieve.

The forecast for Sunday was vastly different from Saturday with a cold westerly wind blowing at up to 55mph on the summits, low cloud and rain with snow at higher levels. It certainly wasn't a day for going up high as we normally do on day two.

Any session that we run has to be, first & foremost, safe and secondly comfortable before any learning will take place. A session like that would not have been possible higher up so, Iain chose to take the team back into the same area as had been used the previous day (Green Quarter Fell, Kentmere) although this time we used a different route - going in from the north rather than the south.

Photo four sees the group looking a little soggy but pleased at having located a rather insignificant stream junction on the map. The whole day was spent travelling from one grid reference to another looking for features that were not always obvious.

Our final photo of our Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course in The lake District sees us down to a group of four after another pair had departed to head for home early (one pair had decided they were happy not to attend day two the previous day and another pair had to drop out).

Having spent the day navigating around Green Quarter Fell, we sat down here for a final break and discussed Nainsmiths Rule. Naismith reckoned that people could walk at 3km/hr in the mountains (Iain reckons it's nearer five for most fit hillgoers) and that 1 minute for every 10m contour needed to be added for every contour line crossed in ascent of descent. We spent 15 minutes working out timings between a number of grid references on that basis before walking the short distance back to the cars and closing the course. All photos taken during the weekend can be viewed here.

We have a number of these Lake District Mountain Navigation Skills Training Courses taking place over the year and details can be found here. The cost is only £80 for the weekend course per person and inclides the provision of laminated maps. The compass we reccommend as the industry standard is the Silva Type 4 Expedition which has everything you need to get the most out of your map reading & Navigation Skills Training Course. These courses are ideal for anyone considering their Summer Mountain Walking Leader Assessment or as a Navigation Skills refrsher course prior to re-assessment.

The next Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District takes place during the weekend of May 25th & 26th and there are currently five places available. Contact us here to book your place.

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