By: Blonde Two

When it comes to navigation skills, you might think that open terrain offers the most likelihood of becoming temporarily misplaced (aka lost) but you would be surprised by how easy it is to lose your bearings (usually because you haven’t taken any) on a network of paths. Being ‘path led’ is a common navigation mistake but one that can be easily avoided by taking a few, simple navigation precautions (these are all assuming you have been sensible enough to take a map and compass with you).

1. Be sure you have got the right starting point on the map.
2. Don’t assume that the widest, smoothest or downhill path is the right one just because it looks easy.
3. Use your compass to check that you are walking along the right path AND in the right direction.
4. Use your map to create a list of ‘tick points’ in your head. Bridges, cross roads, walls, buildings… if you don’t see them, you may well be on the wrong path altogether.
5. Work out from the contour lines on your map whether your path should take you uphill or downhill.
6. Understand how far along a path you need to walk before doing something different, and time each section (15 minutes for 1 kilometre).
7. Pay attention, don’t talk your way past important check points and, if you see an obvious feature where there shouldn’t be one, reconsider your location.
8. Beware the Dartmoor pixies. It is a little know fact that, on Dartmoor, it is the pixies who have moved all the paths around in order to make sure you get pixie led as well as path led!


If you want to learn how to use that map and compass, why not join on one of this summer’s navigation courses… 

Dartmoor Navigation Courses