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Thread: Getting out into the wild

  1. #1
    Mini Goon
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    Hey guys n gals,

    So basically we're now fully kitted up (pretty much) and ready to go on our three day trek out to a bothy in Scotland with friends in June. We cannot wait to do this, but my thoughts now are, when can we next get out and on our own?

    We live in London/Oxford area at the moment, and i'd like to plan a long weekend trip in August and possibly July as well if all ok. Either just an overnight, and then perhaps a double night too. We do have access to a car but wouldn't want to go further than the lake district for a weekend. That might even be pushing it?

    So‚?¶ here's the clincher‚?¶.at the moment, neither of us can navigate. We are hoping and planning on sorting that out soon, but are there any places that need minimal navigation to get to to feel like you're ‚??wild camping'? 5-11 miles hiking would be great max per day. I'm sure we can do more but i'm just not sure yet as we haven't tried doing that much with our full 65Ltr packs.

    Thanks guys, can't wait to hear from you all. Even if it's just to send me to other threads or websites that are good to use for this kind of planning

  2. #2
    Ultra King Peter Clinch's Avatar
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    So‚?¶ here's the clincher‚?¶.at the moment, neither of us can navigate.

    Pop along a local orienteering club, to find one look here...

    That will get you lots of practice at finding your way about and milking maximum information out of maps.

    There seems to be a marked reluctance amongst hillwalkers/backpackers etc. to try orienteering, but it really is as good a way as any (and better by far than most) to get better at navigation. You get more intense practice, more often and by moving to more technical courses you can easily push your skills. Running/doing it as a sport is entirely optional.

    Pete.

  3. #3
    Mini Goon
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    Oh goodness no we absolutely want to learn how to navigate to be able to properly get out there. Just haven't done it since I was a kid at Scouts is all. Will check out those groups that sounds great! Thanks for the link!

    I think I just don't want it to stop us getting out over the next couple months is all!




  4. #4
    Initiate Toot's Avatar
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    Three days in Scotland, not confident in navigation, will be an experience but will also place responsibility on your guides. As you suggest, self-sufficiency allows a remarkably enjoyable freedom that can be shared whenever or however you please.

    Dartmoor is closer than the Lake District and wild-camping is permitted over major parts of that National Park. Although some areas are used for military training with live munitions and then off-limits for public access, August is kept free of live-fire exercises so any part can be explored during that month. There's plenty of glorious room to spare even when the army are playing soldiers in any case...

    To my mind the section of Dartmoor North of the B3357 road between Tavistock and Princetown, and B3212 between Princetown and Moretonhampstead offers ground highly suitable for learning camping and navigation skills across wild areas and open land. Go South from Okehampton (not far from M5/A30 roads at Exeter) and in some ways that area is even better for those purposes thanks to recognisable tors and other features as obvious landmarks, and very handy "bug-out" routes.

    I'm not going to repeat everything said about Dartmoor within OM pages - just type Dartmoor into the search-box and then look at some more recent threads, and plenty of tips and links will be provided for your consideration.

    The Ten Tors event (on this weekend) uses Dartmoor to develop and test outdoors skills in over 4000 young people from the SW area each year, and has a long history for that purpose. Dartmoor plodding can be as easy or challenging as you wish - even Royal Marines selection is in part determined by tests on Dartmoor, again underlining its suitability for outdoors training. Nationally recognised outdoors qualifications (including navigation) are available from several independent providers in the area if you wished to combine an exploratory jaunt with some formal learning.

  5. #5
    Mini Goon
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    Thanks that's great. I'll be learning a bit about navigation on our trip so that's a good start. Just want to go and learn it somewhere, do a course or something. They had some good tips in the latest Trail magazine to go to www.mountain-training.org and www.nnas.org.uk as well so will also check them out.

    Will type in Dartmoor and have a look thanks! Looking forward to hearing other suggestions too.

  6. #6
    Ultra King Peter Clinch's Avatar
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    Just going orienteering moderately regularly will probably be cheaper and I frankly suspect do a better job than taking a course. You can push yourself as hard as you feel able and you'll get a lot more practice at pulling info out of maps and picking optimal routes. And practice is what gets you good.

  7. #7
    ‹bermensch
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    Peter has it right. You will mix, listen and learn navigation from beginner to

    being a proficient navigator by using well established learning methods. Cheers..

  8. #8
    Mini Goon
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    Ok great so basically just join an orienteering club from the link you suggested?

  9. #9
    Mini Goon
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    So in the meantime, whilst trying to learn, are there any trails, trips etc that you think are easily enough done without using navigation that we could get out there and do? nothing major obviously, but just a walk and camp somewhere? I'm going to check out Dartmoor but wanted suggestions for other places too.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Metric Kate's Avatar
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    You could probably do a couple of legs of the Wales coast path without having much navigation, Penarth or Barry to Porthcawl, linked up with a discrete wildcamp somewhere along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. The advantage being, if you're going east to west, you only need to make sure you keep the sea on your left.

    I did invest in a Bronze NNAS and then the Silver training when I got back into hillwalking 10 years ago, just as refreshers and to give me the confidence when walking alone. Haven't regretted it, and now teach navigation to Mountain Rescue trainees, but as others have said, there are other ways to learn nav as well.

  11. #11
    Ultra King Peter Clinch's Avatar
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    And you don't have to stick to just one way. Get a book (say, Mountain Navigation by Peter Cliffand/or Langmuir's Mountaincraft & Leadershipand/or others), go orienteering, take a course, watch YouTube instruction videos. But whichever path(s) you take, practise!

    I mention orienteering specifically because all the best navigators I know are orienteers. Before I took up orienteering I was good enough to navigate through whiteout on plateaus so I was no slouch, but I've only got better and the really good folk can not only get far more out of a map than me but they can do it while they're running.

    The real key, like a lot of things, is practise. Typical mountain navigation is pretty mundane and amounts to following a path to a summit with other people. Itcan get gnarly, but often doesn't so you don't oftenhave to do anything hard, so you don't get much better. The great thing about orienteering is that every time you go you'll be set a whole stack of puzzles that you've got to solve (courses are graded so you can work up from easy to hard as you gain experience). If you're looking for a minor contour feature in the woods you have to pull rather more tricks out of the bag than finding a summit where "up" is always the right direction... A day in the hills, if it's a nice day, I might only look at the map a handful of times. On an O I'm referring to it more or less constantly.

    Pete.

  12. #12
    Mini Goon Andinista's Avatar
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    I like Lyle Brotherton's Ultimate Navigation Manual. Its laid out as a course you can follow, but i just dip in and out every now and then. Pleased with how much of the stuff in it I already know/do.

    There's plenty of days out that can be had where navigation is unlikely to be a big deal, especially in fine weather (so check the forecast on MWIS!!).

    Routes following obvious features such as the Fairfield Horseshoe may be a good place to start? As Peter says lots of routes are fairly straight forward and can often have pretty obvious paths. If you stick to these, in good weather, you won't often need to navigate - and then might not learn! - I often take advantage of these situations to get the map and compass out and practise with no pressure.

    Dartmoor by Okehampton is great. You can get there by public transport from the SE easily enough. But visibility can disappear. I was wild camping up there in October/November went sleep with a view as far as the sea (more or less, certainly could pick out tors right the way across the moor...). Woke up the next morning and couldn't see 6ft in front of me. Fortunately I'd spent a few minutes the previous evening planning my "escape route" on the map/compass down to the military track that led to Okehampton Camp. So no worries. But basic map and compass skills were definitely needed.



    The Ridgeway has some nice sections not far from you and is very well waymarked. I only looked at the map to check how far I'd gone and when the next stop was!

    Also, and in no way at all is this advice, its worth remembering that most other places don't have the fantastic mapping we have in the UK, much of my mountain walking was learnt in places without decent maps so (backed up by GPS I hasten to add!) I had to learn to "read" the landscape a lot more.


  13. #13
    Super Moderator captain paranoia's Avatar
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    The New Forest or Purbeck might be suitable candidates. Both have fairly varied terrain, and you could learn the different lowland and upland navigation techniques, by picking suitable areas. For lowland, you'll want feature-rich areas, and for upland, you'll want open areas without many features, so you are forced to navigate by bearing, distance and contours.

    I always say that everyone knows how to navigate; we do it in our everyday lives. It's really just a matter of taking the techniques we use unconsciously, and applying them consciously. I help supervise DofE groups, and the lesson from them is to pay attention, and concentrate on the task in hand, and keep using the techniques. Keep looking at the map, reading what you expect to see next, and when, and then look out for it on the ground. Track your progress on the map (orienteers 'thumb' the map). I hand out printed maps, Z-folded to A6 to the DofE groups, so the can easily hold them in a hand and thumb the map, and it's a big enough area for them to concentrate on lowland nav, and not lose their place on the map.

    For your June Scotland trip, has anyone warned you about midges...?

  14. #14
    Super Moderator captain paranoia's Avatar
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    Oh, and with GPS phones, you can test yourself; walk a couple of legs, and decide where you are, then use the GPS to check. Start with obvious landmark points, and then make it harder, away from easily identifiable features.

    A GPS receiver could make a useful backup, but, if you wasn't to learn to navigate, use it sparingly, and be aware that it isn't infallible, especially in mountainous terrain, due to reflections off rock faces.

  15. #15
    Widdler
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    , but are there any places that need minimal navigation to get to to feel like you're ‚??wild camping

    A surprising amount closer to home. I've had some great weekends with the kids in seemingly incongruous places in the SE. Pitch late and leave early and leave no trace, loads of options

    South Downs last summer


    Next to a Surrey river last weekend


    We get out in wilder remote locations further afield too, but once you get your head around stealthy 'wild' camping, possibilities open up. Its good practice on your doorstep for more challenging adventures as well.

  16. #16
    Super Moderator captain paranoia's Avatar
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    Where's the 'like' button...?

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