Over a weekend you’ll start to leave the paths behind and navigate in open country using a compass on short bearings. As your confidence increases you’ll learn more advanced compass skills and add timing and pacing into the mix too. The Silver Award takes place on more difficult terrain than the Bronze Award and away from easy-to-follow paths and trails.
The National Navigation Award Scheme (NNAS) is a personal performance scheme for all ages to learn navigation skills and gain confidence to get out and enjoy the countryside. The NNAS Navigator Awards give lovers of the outdoors, whatever your sport, age or fitness, the freedom to explore the paths, trails, hills and mountains of Britain and abroad. Progressing through the Bronze and Silver Awards will take you from being an absolute map and compass novice right through to be an expert navigator. You can view the full syllabus in the FAQs below. Our experienced instructors will share their knowledge with you and answer any questions you have about exploring the hills and mountains of the UK.
The Silver NNAS Navigator Award is recognised by the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme, Scout and Guide Associations and many other outdoor groups. The award is accredited by the Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework (SCQF) at Level 5, and 2 SCQF credit points are awarded on completion. Successful candidates receive a digital certificate along with their nationally recognised qualification.
Each day begins with a short ‘classroom’ session over breakfast at The Penny Pot Cafe in Edale in the heart of the Peak District. This is a great opportunity to pick up the new skills you’ll need for when you head out to continue the learning in the local hills. The end of the day finishes with cake back at the cafe whilst the group recaps the day.
Public courses take place throughout the year or if there’s three or more of you in your party you can pick your own date. Book online using the live availability checker or contact us to find out more.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The National Navigation Award Scheme sets a limit of eight people on their courses so you’re always guaranteed the attention of our instructors. All sorts of people come on our NNAS courses from all sorts of backgrounds and all ages but what they all have in common is a desire to learn more about navigating in the outdoors.
Absolutely! Children aged eight and over are welcome on our National Navigation Award Scheme courses when accompanied by a parent, guardian or carer. Discounted prices are available for children aged 8-15 and for family groups.
The NNAS Bronze and Silver Navigator Awards take place over two consecutive days and you’ll need to attend both days to be eligible for the qualification. We usually start at 9am and aim to finish before 5pm each day (with a little bit of homework in between!) The aim is to enjoy the weekend and the pace reflects this. Each day starts with a short ‘classroom’ session before heading out into the hills for the practical element.
Our Silver NNAS Navigator Award takes place in the heart of the Peak District in the small village of Edale. Only around an hour’s drive from Manchester or Sheffield and easily accessible from the M1 for London and the North, the Peak District is perfectly located in the middle of the country.
Many people choose to make a weekend of it and there are lots of accommodation choices around the area. You won’t find any big five star hotels so we recommend sites like booking.com and airbnb.co.uk to seek out a local gem. In the summer there are numerous camping options in and around the village too.
You’ll need outdoor kit for a whole weekend in the hills whatever the weather! You’ll also need an Ordnance Survey 1:25 000 Explorer map for the Dark Peak area (OL1). If you happen to have an OS 1:50 000 Landranger (110) or Harvey Peak District Central map then bring them along but don’t go out and buy them specially. The only one you definitely need is the OS OL1 map. You’ll also need a compass. We recommend the Silva Expedition 4 but any long-edged compass will do the job.
Remember to bring enough food and drink with you to last the whole weekend and some money for breakfasts and cakes!
There’s a full kit list below. Please have a look at the weather before setting off and dress accordingly. Better to have an extra fleece and woolly hat in your bag just in case. Remember we’ll be outdoors all weekend in all weathers so be sure to have the right gear. If it’s looking wet then keeping spares clothes to change into in your car is also a good idea.
- Comfortable hill walking clothing – personal base layers and trousers (not jeans)
- Waterproof jacket with hood
- Waterproof trousers (separate to your walking trousers)
- Spare warm/fleece jacket
- Walking boots or walking trainers
- Comfortable walking socks
- Warm hat and gloves or sun hat and sun screen (weather dependent)
- Vacuum flask for hot drink and/or re-usable water bottle
- Personal first aid kit and personal medication
- Ordnance Survey 1:25 000 Explorer map for the Dark Peak area (OL1)
- Compass (long-edge type such as the Silva Expedition 4)
- Day walk rucksack – approx. 20-25 litres
- Packed lunch and snacks for each day
You can get hold of OS maps direct from Ordnance Survey or from any book store including Amazon but we recommend Dash4It – the map superstore. They guarantee the latest maps at the cheapest prices all with free delivery. They also stock a wide range of compasses.
You can buy outdoor gear from a wide variety of independent and national retailers but MountainXperience recommends Cotswold Outdoor where you’re assured of the best advice and service from real outdoor people. Customers of MountainXperience receive 12.5% off purchases at Cotswold Outdoor stores and online.
There’s no need to worry about the assessment. Whilst you will need to meet certain criteria set out by National Navigation Award Scheme you’ll have the whole weekend to prove yourself. The assessment tends to take place throughout the course rather than as an ‘exam’ on Sunday afternoon. Our instructors want you to pass as much as you do and will be able to provide additional support during the day or in the evenings if required.
Of course. The requirements for the NNAS Navigator Awards are specified by The National Navigation Award Scheme and can be found below. Don’t be too worried if you don’t understand all the terminology as that’s what our instructors are there for but it might help you decide which level to start at.
The Silver Navigator 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 National Navigation Award courses are taught in areas with access to open country and involve periods where you’ll be navigating away from paths and tracks.
For the full syllabus of the Silver National Navigation Award see below:
- 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.