Night navigation is back!

Night Nav- Lakes

The clocks go back and suddenly thoughts turn to the much maligned night nav.....

Sunday October 30th

The last Sunday of October saw 8 MTA members meeting in Great Langdale as the Lakes area ran the first of a series of progressive night navigation workshops. The mix of members attending was great – we had trainees, people who qualified 20 years ago, IML's and members just wanting to meet up with other like minded folk.

Like all good workshops we started in the pub – the Lakes is just getting active again – so we chatted through some ideas for future sessions and did a quick get to know each other – all the while looking out the window as the light faded.

Once we were well and truly into the gloam as we set off on a circuit of the valley. Starting with pacing in the car park – then a flat field – we soon moved onto the fellside – uphill, downhill and of course across the hill – the aim to get a good feel under our feet and negotiating different terrains in the dark changed our paces. We then began to add in timings and guaging when to choose which or when and how to mix them up – again concentrating on getting our own pacing nailed. Slowly we worked our way across some obstacles to the Old Dungeon Ghyll and amazingly we resisted the urge to pop in.

Night nav- Kelvyn
By now it was fully dark and the headtorches came out – a chance to see some other kit, discuss some top tips (a 2nd torch is so much easier than spare batteries – as one member who struggled to change batteries in the pub could attest...) and get used to our limited night-time view.

On the fell below Side Pike we split into teams and came up with strategies to use pacing and timing to break a 1500m leg down – everyone nailed it & no-one ended up in the bog. Back on the valley floor at Side Farm we used the flat ground to play some navigation games – paced pentagons, hexagons & octagons – no-one was yet brave enough to leave their car keys as a marker – but everyone finished up within 10% of where they started – a successful introduction to night navigation :)

Thanks go to Jack Oliver, Elizabeth Wallis, Kingsley Jones, Lynda Hill, Alvina Labsvirs, Chris Packman & James Weir.

Monday November 28th

A cold crisp and beautiful evening saw 8 MTA members meeting up for the second of this years Lake's Area Night Nav workshops - we really couldn't have asked for better. Arriving early to meet the group Kelvyn James (organiser) had a wander up onto Pike Howe and encountered red deer - rare for Langdale - the joy of being out once the crowds have gone.
Lakes Night Nav in November

This workshop built on the pacing and timing skills we practiced in October and we moved onto handrailing, ticking off and attack points with a good emphasis on the 'feel' of the land and making sure we'd got a catching feature to correct by.

Moving the pacing and timing skills onto rougher fell ground we made our way in a loop of Mickleden - but with everyone successfully reaching the little confluence on the slopes Pike of Stickle that was our target we all took a while to switch off the head torches and simply sit and stare a while at the spectacular clear sky. Then it was a quick return along the valley bottom to the Walkers Bar at the New Dungeon Ghyll for drinks, sticky toffee pudding and plans for December.

The next session in the Lakes will take place on Monday December 19th meeting Stickle Ghyll carpark 7pm, book here.

Written by Kelvyn James of Mountain Services.
MTA Lakes regional coordinator

Other night nav sessions across the regions

The Lakes isn't the only region with up and coming peer led night navigation, here are a few more:

Central Scotland- Thurs 16th Feb

Lake District- Tues 31st Jan (Intro to night nav) * Tues 21st Feb (Developing skills) * Mon 6th March (Putting it all together)

North Wales- Sat 4th Feb * Sat 11th March (new session in Denbighshire)

Peak District- Tues 31st Jan

Devon- Wed 8th Feb * Wed 8th March

South East - Tues 28th Feb