By: Blonde Two

With the UK’s desire to find wild open spaces increasing we Blondes are receiving more and more enquiries about our navigation courses. The good news is there is plenty of space out there for all of us. The bad news is unless you know how to find this green bounty, you won’t get to experience it.

Obviously the safest way to find your way across open countryside is to carry (and know how to use) a map and compass but there may be times when you only have one of these or neither. Navigation is possible (but not always easy) in these circumstances. It’s often just a case of keeping your eyes open. We don’t recommend setting out without a compass but we do have six navigation clues to help you if you do.

  1. Watch out for handrails. These are linear (in a line) features such as walls, paths or big holes in the ground that you can walk along (but hopefully not fall over or into).
  2. Notice whether you are walking uphill or downhill. If you understand how contour lines are marked on your map, this can give you some really useful clues as to your direction of travel.
  3. Look backwards from time to time. If you know what your homeward direction is going to look like, you are more likely to know if you are heading in it when the time comes.
  4. Watch the sun. Even in summer the sun moves across the southern sky (in our hemisphere). Notice where it is and how it is moving for a few directional clues.
  5. Follow the water. Water (even man made waterways) flows downhill. Heading for lower ground can (eventually) take you nearer to civilisation but do be aware of flood risk.
  6. Look at the stars. If you do find yourself outside after dark, spotting the North Star can be useful as it remains in a constant direction. Other less friendly stars move across the sky and, like sheep, make pretty poor navigational aids. (Just in case you are wondering, there is an equivalent pole star in the Southern Hemisphere but it is harder to find.)

Of course if you don’t want to rely on walls, stars or sheep, you could learn to navigate using a map and compass. Join us on one of our navigation courses (next one Monday 24th August) or get in touch for information about bespoke navigation training.

Dartmoor Navigation Courses