I’ve just completed a four-part navigation skills refresher* course organised and hosted by Mountainfeet, a great outdoors shop that’s based in Marsden, where I live. The theory being that I’d be relearning some forgotten skills. Learning afresh was more to the point, it was a great course.
The sessions (two indoors/class-based and two on the hills) were led by Keith Saunders. Keith is a retired RAF Navigator and also leads walks with Saddleworth Walking Club so he knows his stuff and is great at explaining things. Which was good, as I realised early on that I was starting from scratch!
* I was taught map and compass skills on a school trip thirty three years ago, during an outward-bounds break in Snowdonia. Starting from the baseline of having an appalling memory, thirty three years of lack of practice essentially equalled zero ability.
I do actually take a paper map and compass out on most hikes but I’ve always kept them stowed in the rucksack. Not much use there, I know. And since I started using the Viewranger App a couple of years ago I’ve just relied on that. I think the App is brilliant but when I saw Si (at Mountainfeet) was hosting this course I stuck my name down: I wanted to get back to basics.
After the sessions I feel far better equipped and I met a bunch of lovely folk also brushing up on their navigation skills. So a great result all round. Actually, I missed one of the two outdoors sessions as I was in Wales in Cwm Penmachno but I did have map and compass out for a change 🙂
The following pics are from the second outdoor session, in the Uppermill/Pob Green area of Saddleworth and heading up to Alderman Hill (pretty mild for the first day of November).
So I feel better equipped after the course but I know I’ll need to practice more regularly with an actual map and compass.
Finally, two words of warning, if Si runs another course and you wanted to attend:
– Keith, despite his 80+ years, could out-walk most people, he flew up the hills above Uppermill as we navigated up to Alderman’s Hill. Very humbling!
– You’ll need a lot of willpower to leave one of the indoor sessions without a new gadget, boots or clothing of some description 😉 Mountainfeet has a lot of lovely stuff in the shop where the course was held over two evenings.