Night nav in the lowlands

Lowland night nav

You live 160 miles from the nearest decent fell walking countryside; you crave some night nav practice; you get to hear about the South East Night Navigation in Lowland Terrain workshop from the MTA taking place on 1st February…

Bliss!

Not knowing quite what to expect, I was heartened, upon arriving at the National Trust Car Park near Ivinghoe Beacon after dark, to see a cluster of seven or eight men hanging around and wearing head torches, waterproofs and clad in walking boots. Either this was a meeting of some kind of secret society or I was in the right place (or maybe both).

Steve Pease, our leader, introduced himself to the group and explained the evening’s activity. The group was a mixture of WL and ML trainees or graduates. This was to be an opportunity to share ideas and hints about night navigation strategies and experience. The whole thing was to be a collective group exercise; no one would need to lead a leg (relief mixed with disappointment at this).

I (and I think everyone else) had a fabulous time; working out route strategies, identifying ‘handrails,’ the location of ring contours, slight dips in the terrain, as well as walking on a bearing, and estimating time and distance travelled using pacing. It was all there and even though this was in the relatively benign setting of the Chiltern hills, everything was transferrable to more remote mountain or wilderness settings. We even had a bit of weather thrown in to lend a bit more authenticity; just to make us feel at home.

It was good to have the chance to brush up of night navigation skills in a safe and friendly, though not without its demands, setting.

Leading in the dark
I have been hill walking for nearly 40 years but I came away with three bits of learning:
  • One guy showed us how to place the magnifying bit of the compass close up to your eye and then bring the map up meet you. The detail revealed was a revelation.Try it.
  • For some mysterious reason, I now walk 64 paces to one hundred metres, not 58 – perhaps I am getting shorter!
  • I still love night navigation and have renewed confidence that, given a little help now and then, I’ve still got it!
A great evening and the chippy was still open on the way home.

Thanks to Steve, the group and MTA.

Written by Tim Keightley (MTA member)

FUTURE EVENTS:

It doesn't end there! There are more workshops taking place in and around the South East over the next few months. Here are just a few:

28th February - MTA regional peer-led night navigation - Swinley Forest

22nd March - Night navigation in lowland terrain - hosted by Steve Pease of Vertical Relief