Navigation Phrases

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Friday, December 3, 2021 Under: Top Tips

On my navigation courses I try and keep things simple and easy to remember, that way I hope that what I teach sticks for when you need it most. I have lots of handy sayings that crop up on most courses and to help these stay with you I’ve listed them below.

Navigation is made up of 60% skills and knowledge, 30% confidence and 10% luck.
You can't control luck, but you can practice your skills to increase your confidence.

“Which Way, How Far and What You Will See” To keep on track make sure you know these three things for each section of your journey. Keep the sections short enough to remember and you can spend less time navigating and more time enjoying your walk.

“Follow Something” It's easy to stay on track if you're following something, like path, or handrailing a wall/river, contouring or even a bearing if you have no other choice.

Uphill is harder and a little longer, so add 1min per contour. We could get excited about Naismith or Pythagoras, but just add a bit on for uphill. If moving well then 1 min for 2 contours might be more appropriate.

“Straight and green might not be seen”. This means that a Footpath (Right of Way) marked on a map may not be visible on the ground as it just shows the legal right to walk there, not where people actually walk. This is more likely to occur if it is in straight line, rather than moving with the land.

“Not everything on the ground is marked on the map, not everything on the map is visible on the ground.
We have some of the best maps in the world, but they still need to be interpreted and taken with a pinch of salt.

“Trust the contours”. Put trust into contours and shape, it is the only thing that can't be changed without either a big block of ice or a quarrying license.

“Move to Prove”. Sometimes you need to just go and have a look to gain more information or to confirm your position.

“Ground bright green will treat you mean”. This refers to Sphagnum Moss and other moisture loving plants which indicate wet areas to avoid. Also look out for red grass and little white turfs of Flax, both of which also love wet ground.

“A path, not THE path”. Its easy to convince yourself that you are right, even when you’re not. Remember you are standing by A lake, A forest or A stream until you have 3 good reasons why it if THE lake, forest or stream.


In : Top Tips 


Tags: navigation "map reading" 

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Matthew Woodfield An infrequent collection of tips, tricks and ramblings about climbing, walking and the great outdoors...