Improving your navigational skills

Published 3 December 2023

A section of Ordnance Survey's OL1 map
This is OL1. Well. Part of it.

A few weeks ago I had an email asking if I knew of any good courses about map reading and navigation. The person messaging me wanted to make sure they could do it ahead of a big walk.

It’s an important skill, especially when you’re out doing a walk that’s not particularly well signposted, or goes through a remote area. And not just in those circumstances either. You can have the best signposted walk in the world, but there’s still scope for getting lost. All it takes is for you to miss one sign. I’ve done it many times.

There’s a couple of ways to improve your skills. A quick search on the internet will reveal there are courses held across the country, where you can do some face to face training.

The other option is to do something in your own time and at your own pace.

One resources I’ve linked to for a very long time, is Brian Conghalie’s guide called simply How To Use A Compass And Map. It’s an excellent guide that does exactly what it says on the tin. It tells you how to use a Map and a Compass. And how to use them together.

Great as it is, it’s a slightly technical guide at times, and may be a bit daunting for those without much knowledge of such things at all. So I was delighted to recently find out that Ramblers have released a free course called A Beginners Guide to Navigation.

Presented in 17 short videos, the videos start from the very beginning. In a clear, easy to follow format, they take the viewer through the basics to give you all the information you need to successfully be able to navigate.

Even better, the videos are free for anyone to watch – you don’t have to be a member of Ramblers to view them. Although if you’ve any interest in walking at all, being a member of the Ramblers is definitely recommended.

And if you’ve a navigational expert, there’s still more you can learn. The Beginners Guide to Natural Navigation course gives you a whole host of skills for how to use nature to help you get where you want to go.

Once you’ve brushed up your skills, there’s only one thing left to do. Get out in the great outdoors and get putting it all into practice!

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