It’s essential to be able to navigate on the mountains, so we’ve put together an Introduction to Navigation series of articles that we’ll be publishing over the next few weeks that’ll give you the basic grounding. However, we suggest you invest in a good book, attend a course or join a more experienced hill goer. Or better still, do all three!
1 You can go walking when you want, and where you want rather than relying on others.
2 You can go out in all weathers, especially hill fog when visibility is poor without getting lost.
3 Knowing where you are on the hill is fundamental to hill safety and you’ll be less likely to be a mountain rescue casualty. In really foul weather, the time you take to get off the mountain can amount to the difference between life and death!
4 You can take on more challenging routes that aren’t as clear on the ground and require some map skills rather than the same old mountain motorways. That includes going safely off path, to explore those nooks and crannies that as as far away from the Llanberis Path as you can get.
5 You’ll enjoy the hills more than ever once you actually know what all those other hills are called. You’ll know this view below is a view across Llyn Cowlyd to Pen Llithrig y Wrach, but unless you’ve been born within view of Eryri, won’t help you pronounce it!
6 If you’re fed up of the office, this might be the first step in your outdoor career?
7 You can get out there after dark, once you know your way around.
8 There are no paths in winter. Good navigational skills mean you waste less time on a winter hill walk when daylight is scarce, as well as minimising the time you’ve got your fingers out to handle the map and compass in biting winds before they freeze solid and fall off.
So keep your eyes peeled for our articles, the first of which – Map to Basics – is already on-line, with the rest to follow on a ‘roughly’ weekly basis for the next 10 weeks.
We recommend you pick up a copy of one of these books:
Mountain Navigation by Peter Cliff
Navigation: Techniques and Skills for Walkers – Peter Hawkins
Hillwalking – Steve Long – which is also the handbook for the Mountain Leadership scheme.