Location: Pentland Hills
Time: 08:00-15:00 (approx finish time)
Distance covered: 12km
Purpose: To deliver navigation training course to a group of 7 participants
Map used: Harvey Maps – The Pentland Hills 1:25000
After some introductions in the car park the group went for a very short walk around the outside of the car park and then back to where they started. They then have to describe the walk they have done. I encourage people to start to think about what the ground is doing first (BROWN features), then any water sources/courses (BLUE features) and then finally any person made features (BLACK features).
From there we used a lovely straight stretch of road to discover how many paces it takes us to walk 100m. A really crucial skill to have.
Once everyone had their numbers it was time to distribute maps, get compasses out and head to the lovely Pentland Hills to get practicing navigation.
I run my navigation training courses in a very relaxed way and I feel it is important to introduce skills slowly and steadily over the day. To start with each person is given a ‘leg’ to navigate. This is to obvious things like path junctions, bridges, tree lines etc. This helps to get them into the navigation mind.
As each leg is led we are taken further into the hills. At this time I am reaffirming the need to use pacing, setting the map and looking around at those BROWN, BLUE and BLACK features.
Hare Hill crash site
With these skills learned we are now starting to hit the open countryside and heading towards Hare Hill, the crash site of a German Bomber in March 1943. Hoping to bomb Edinburgh they headed north, flying over the Pentland Hills. Struggling to navigate in the good old Scottish weather, they decided to turn back and flew straight into Hare Hill. Just how close they came to Edinburgh before turning back definitely makes you think that there was a cloud of luck over Edinburgh that day!
The rest of the day is spent in the hills where we introduce more skills:
- Contouring – moving round a hill but trying to keep the same height
- Half Bearing (aka Rough Bearing) – a very quick way to use your map/compass
- Measuring distance including time predictions
- Taking a bearing
- Walking on a bearing
- Planning a route
- Tick off features – what will you see along the way
- Catching features – how will you know you have gone too far
- Aiming off
- Escape Routes
Further learning points
When I am delivering navigation training course or map reading skills I feel I also have a duty to discuss other points for people who spend time outdoors doing any sport or recreational activity. This includes:
- The Scottish Outdoor Access Code
- Weather Forecasts
- Group Management
- Managing risk
Once off the hill we then have a 45 minute gentle walk back to the car. This is a great time to give any individual feedback and also to answer any questions people may have from all the learning of the day
Want to know more about the Navigation courses we offer? Please visit our Navigation Training page