Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Choosing a Navigation Course

Peak Navigation Courses,  Which is the Right Course For  Me?

At Peak Navigation Courses we want you to have the best learning experience and select the right course so that you get the greatest benefit. Hopefully this Blog will answer your questions.  We run a range of stand alone courses in both traditional (map and compass) navigation and some 1:1 training to get you started with your GPS.

Additionally, our Introductory Course (1st Steps to Map Reading & Navigation) can be combined with our Intermediate Course (Moving onto Moorland) to become the Silver National Navigation Award.



Prior Experience.             None required.

Classroom based with 2 short walks of 1.5 hours and 2 hours.

Terrain encountered.           
Paths, fields and some rough pasture on easy moorland.

Fun Learning new skills on the 1st Steps Course
On this course you will learn about:
Maps, suitable maps for walkers, different scales of maps, what the maps tell us about the ground, how to use a map for navigation.

How to make a route plan, how long is the route, how long it will take to walk the route. Including understanding six figure grid references

What to do if things go wrong whilst out walking.

How a compass can be used in a range of situations and how to follow a compass bearing.

Pacing and timing as navigation techniques.

Clothing, equipment and staying safe.






Follow up:
After attending the course we will send you some “practice” routes for you to have a go at using your new skills without us.

Additionally we will invite you to join any of our (free) guided walks to come and get some more practice with us. These are held 8 times a year in the Peak District.
Learning to use a compass for the first time.



Prior Experience.
The ability to use a compass to take a bearing from a map,  preferably be familiar with the navigation techniques of following a bearing, pacing and timing.

A short indoor session but mainly based outdoors with a walk of around 5 hours.

Terrain encountered.
Paths through fields though mainly on “access land” involving some steep ground and rough pasture.

Moving onto Moorland
On this course you will learn about:
A short revision about map scales and the factors that are essential for a good compass.

Revision of Pacing and timing.

Using different scale maps for navigating through complex terrain.

Navigation using contour features and understanding contour features.

Revision of using a compass.

Some advanced compass techniques, reversed bearings and back bearings.

Problem solving and re-location (where are we).

Micronavigation (techniques for finding things accurately) on moorland and in poor visibility.

Follow up:
After attending the course we will send you some “practice” routes for you to have a go at using your new skills without us.

Additionally we will invite you to join any of our (free) guide walks to come and get some more practice with us. These are held 8 times a year in the Peak District.
Learning some precise "micr-navigation" techniques on the Moving onto Moorland Course.



Prior Experience.            
You will already be confident with basic compass use and experienced on rough terrain off path.

This is a day long outdoor course normally lasting 6 to 7 hours though may be shortened due to poor weather.

Terrain encountered.           
Some paths though mainly rough challenging moorland. Some steep ascents and stream crossings.

On this course you will learn about:
Precise micro-navigation techniques across challenging featureless terrain.

Re-location techniques including back bearings and aspect of slope.

Navigation across steep ground and contouring.



During the day there will be a chance for “revision” of the range of techniques covered in our other courses.
Advanced Moorland Navigation. Operating at this level you have "The Keys to the Kingdom"


An Intermediate level Course

Prior Experience.
The ability to use a compass to take a bearing from a map,  preferably be familiar with the navigation techniques of following a bearing, pacing and timing.

A walk of around 3 hours usually from around 6.30pm until 9.30pm in the winter months.

Terrain encountered.
Some paths though mainly crossing open moorland involving rough boggy ground.

On this course you will learn about:
Strategies for navigation in poor visibility.

Learn to use pacing and timing as navigation techniques.

Develop further compass skills.


Gain confidence navigating and moving in poor visibility.



About Peak Navigation Courses:

Peak Navigation Courses has been established since 2004 and currently teaches around 300 people a year the basics of Map Reading and Navigation. 

Mike & Jane who run Peak Navigation Courses are both qualified as International Mountain Leaders having been trained and assessed in navigation to the highest standards both in the U.K. and overseas.
As IML's Mike & Jane have to keep their skills up to date and have to demonstrate that they have undertaken additional (cpd) training each year.

Mike and Jane are members of The Mountain Training Association and the British Association of International Mountain Leaders.

Peak Navigation Courses are accredited to run the National Navigation Awards and hold the NNAS Tutors Award.
























Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Using a Compass for Map Reading and Navigation

Using a Compass for Map Reading and Navigation

She's got it! Using a compass
1st Steps to Map Reading & Navigation Course
It’s a commonly held misconception that a compass is only useful for navigating across open moorland, mountain terrain or in the mist.  Additionally many people carry a compass but do not know how to use it!


We have been living and working in the Peak District for many years teaching Map Reading and Navigation. Frequently we watch people park up un the village green opposite our house get togged up for a walk and set off, only to see them coming back 5 or 10 minutes later as they had initially set off in the wrong direction. This is especially true of young people on their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions.






Using a compass to “orientate” your map before setting off helps you to then recognise where features are on the ground (preferably using a 1:25k scale map) and therefore which way to leave the car park or village. With a quick measurement using the scale ruler on your compass, you can gauge how far the footpath is from where you are and you can even take a bearing (if necessary) to show you the direction to walk from where you are to the start of your path.

Set the compass to north and use it to "orientate" the map so it is facing north.
You can now take a look around and find features on the ground.


“Following footpaths is easy, you don’t need a compass.”   Wrong!
Sometimes the path disappears, or is covered in snow or perhaps the farmer has ploughed the field or planted crops and obscured the path. If you are attempting to walk a path or right of way but can’t see the line of the path on the ground, by taking a bearing along the line of the path on the map will give you the direction to walk.

Using a compass to take a bearing down the line of the path that you intend to follow.

In a similar way, if you are attempting to follow a line of a path as shown on the map, but a second path appears, which one do you follow? Once again, by taking a bearing along the line of the path as shown on the map will give you the direction of which path to follow.


These are basic skills often not demonstrated on navigation courses.  
At Peak Navigation Courses we pride ourselves on being “navigation nerds” able to demonstrate the many uses of a compass.  If you would like to learn to navigate including how to use a compass, join our 1st Steps to Map Reading and Navigation Course, a one day course in The Peak District National Park.  Better still, if you have a whole weekend available, then join us for the SilverNational Navigation Award. 



The Silva Type 4 / 54 Expedition Compass, a good basic all round compass.