The Importance of being able to Navigate in the Mountains
I know we have all seen them – those who walk up Snowdon with no map or compass in flip flops and jeans. I always think it’s great to see people getting out walking but they are not aware of the dangers that could lie ahead if the weather takes a turn for the worst. Jeans getting wet can lead to hyperthermia, especially if a wrong turn is taken and you end up out longer than anticipated with not enough supplies.
I am currently raising money for Mountain Rescue as I lead lots of youth group expeditions every year and I love knowing they will be there if we need them. Unfortunately, Mountain Rescue get no funding from the Government and must fundraise to buy their equipment and rely on the time given by hard working volunteers.
Do you think if everyone who goes out for a walk learnt to navigate it could make the job of Mountain Rescue a lot easier?
Would it help groups to stop getting lost, disorientated and into dangerous territory?
Most Mountain Rescue call outs are due to use of inappropriate footwear, poor planning and bad navigation. Navigation in the UK is difficult as we don’t have lots of signposts scaring the landscape.
We also have lots of featureless moors with no paths on at all or paths where there shouldn’t be paths according to the map. I once found a very disappointed and disorientated Dutch man in the Lake District who was astounded at the lack of sign posts in such difficult terrain. I gave him a spare map and compass – he found me latter and bought me a pint.
Using GPS is a great navigational tool if it isn’t the only tool you have, batteries run flat, the straight line they show doesn’t consider cliff edges. A GPS should never be a substitute for a map and compass. Learning the art of navigation is all about locating exactly where you are and being able to decide the quickest, easiest and safest route back. Navigation is a skill like any other skill it takes time and practice – trial and error so start in a lowland area learn the basics of reading a map and then move on to mastering a compass. I have the OS maps app downloaded on my phone and often whip it out for fast relocation but I never leave home without a map an compass.
Always check the weather before you plan a route this is a great site – Mountain Weather Information service
We are walking the Coast to Coast this summer to raise money for Mountain Rescue if you can spare a few pounds please donate to such a worthy cause.