Navigation training in the Peak District

It was a weekend of different weathers in the Peak District as seven amateur navigators signed up to improve their map and compass skills with MountainXperience.

On Saturday morning we met in the sunshine at the fabulous Penny Pot Cafe in Edale where the group enjoyed breakfast. The objective for the weekend was to complete the Silver NNAS Navigator Award. Six of the group had already completed their Bronze award with us so it was great to see them back again.

We started by looking at online mountain weather resources to determine how the day was going to pan out. Both the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) and the Met Office presented similar forecasts of sun in the morning with the possibility of hail showers later in the day. That weather forecast turned out to be pretty spot on!

The group spent a few minutes recapping some useful Bronze NNAS Navigator Award skills that were going to be used throughout the weekend. It was important that everyone had a good working knowledge of Ordnance Survey six-figure grid references for example. The topic of map contours was then introduced using a number of great National Navigation Award Scheme and Ordnance Survey resources and the group learnt how to take a compass bearing.

It was then time to head out into the hills. From our base close to Edale Railway Station, we walked into the village and headed out into open land. We got straight into it looking for navigation strategies for how to get to a number of quite remote locations. Working in pairs at first, the budding navigators discussed a number of different navigation techniques. At one point they had to find where two boundaries crossed and rather than trying to aim directly for that spot, they decided to ‘aim off’ a little higher then walk downhill to make sure they didn’t miss it. On a few occasions the group found it useful to use their compass to take a back bearing help confirm their location and direction of travel.

We spent some time comparing contours features on the map to the actual features on the ground. The group learnt about valleys, spurs, hill tops, plateaus and ridges and how they look on a map compared to what they look like in reality. We used one of these spurs to get us down of the hill to YHA Edale where we stopped for a snack break. It was then up for one of the junior members of the group to try some long navigation and lead the group back to base in the village.