By: Blonde Two

Forests are not my favourite navigation thing.

Although all of the usual navigation rules apply (trust your compass, check your distance etc) forests have a habit of messing around with your (my) sense of direction.

Which is probably why I have never walked into the middle of Fernworthy Forest. I have walked all around it (a couple of times) and across it on the main footpath; but I haven’t followed the forestry tracks or paths in any direction other than ‘straight through’.

The good things about forests for navigation are:

  1. They usually have an edge.
  2. They usually have paths (see ‘bad things’ below.)
  3. You usually know when you are in one.

The bad things about forests for navigation are:

  1. It is tricky to walk on a direct bearing without banging into a tree.
  2. You can’t see a point on the horizon.
  3. They usually have paths.

You might think (and usually you would be right) that paths are more good than bad; but somehow, in a forest, the paths never quite seem to go where your map says that they are going to. Not only that, but in a forest because paths are easier to follow than trees, it is easy to keep walking down a path that isn’t actually going in the right direction.

Despite not having visited the interior of Fernworthy Forest, I do know a few things about it:

  1. If you camp at the edge of it, every single midge that lives there will come out and bite you (plus some of their cousins from nearby Soussons Down).
  2. It has some interesting Bronze Age artefacts and some much newer ruins (if you can find them).
  3. It wasn’t always a plantation (obvious I know but photos of that part of the moor without the forest look very odd to me.)

You can read more in this Moor than Meets the Eye project report. Give it a go, it is very interesting.