Navigation Blog Posts

I was recently asked to run a 1:1 training session to introduce someone to the basics of navigation. During our conversation I mentioned that I would put together some blog posts on navigation techniques.

My intention is to create a series of blog posts that cover the core topics of the National Navigation Award Scheme. I shall either write about a specific topic, or provide links to existing material that I think covers the topic well. The NNAS is split into three main levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold.

Bronze

  • Navigate using a variety of maps and scales.
  • Use 4 and 6 figure grid references with worded descriptions to define the position of a map feature and to locate a feature on the ground.
  • Orientate the map using handrails, obvious point features and major landforms.
  • Use linear features (e.g. paths, tracks, clear boundaries) as handrails in simple navigation exercises.
  • Relate prominent landforms such as large hills and valleys to corresponding contour information on the map.
  • Orientate the map by aligning a compass needle against grid north and be aware that magnetic variation causes an inaccuracy.
  • Use an orientated map to confirm direction of travel.
  • Use clearly identifiable features to confirm position along the route and to recognise when the target has been overshot.
  • Measure horizontal distance on the map and estimate distance on the ground using timing, pacing and simple visual judgements e.g.100m.
  • Plan and implement simple routes and navigation strategies based on the above skills.
  • Recognise a navigation error within a few minutes and apply simple relocation techniques using handrails and prominent features.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of local and national access issues, access legislation, personal responsibilities and the Countryside Code.
  • Demonstrate appropriate knowledge of walking equipment, safety equipment and emergency procedures.

Silver

  • Utilise the skills and techniques of the Bronze Award in the context of Silver Award navigation strategies.
  • Relate small hills, small valleys, prominent re-entrants and prominent spurs to their corresponding map contours. Use prominent hills, ridges, spurs and valleys as a means of navigation in good visibility.
  • Use landforms and point features to orientate the map and as collecting and catching features.
  • Use a compass to: Accurately follow a bearing; aim off; check the direction of handrails and other linear features.
  • Deviate briefly from a compass bearing to avoid obstacles or difficult terrain and accurately regain the original line.
  • Use back bearings to check route following accuracy.
  • Measure distance on the ground in varied, open terrain using timing and pacing and make practical allowances for any discrepancies.
  • Simplify legs using coarse navigation, attack points and fine navigation.
  • Recognise dangerous or difficult terrain on map and ground.
  • Plan and implement navigational strategies based on the above skills.
  • Maintain route finding accuracy in poor visibility or darkness.
  • Recognise a navigation error within a few minutes and apply appropriate relocation techniques.
  • Understand how personal fitness and nature of terrain affect route choice both at the planning stage and on the ground.
  • Understand the potential consequences of fatigue and physical discomfort in demanding terrain and/or extreme weather conditions.
  • Select appropriate clothing, equipment and first aid items for walking in open country in all weather conditions.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the Countryside Code, current access legislation and the environmental impact of walkers on the countryside.
  • Understand the responsibilities of walkers towards other countryside interests such as farming, forestry and conservation.

Gold

  • Utilise the skills and techniques of the Bronze and Silver Awards in the context of GGold National Navigation Award navigation strategies.
  • Utilise contours and fine detail as the prime method of navigation.
  • Accurately: Follow a route, judge distance, check progress against time, use relevant compass skills and maintain continuous map contact.
  • Use back bearings and transits to confirm current position.
  • Use aspect of slope as an aid to relocation.
  • Select appropriate techniques within an overall navigation strategy.
  • Navigate in intricate terrain in reduced visibility i.e. mist or darkness.
  • Select an appropriate, safe route in relation to height gain and loss, dangerous terrain and other major hazards.
  • Assess the route ahead in the field in relation to prevailing conditions or changing circumstances (e.g. weather, time, daylight, ability/fitness) and re-plan the route appropriately if necessary.
  • Shorten a route, use an escape route and know emergency procedures.
  • Recognise the occurrence of a navigational error within a few minutes and apply appropriate relocation techniques.
  • Select appropriate clothing, equipment and first aid for walking in remote areas in all weather conditions.
  • Understand the physical demands created by hill and moorland terrain in all weather conditions.
  • Understand the effects of cold, heat, fatigue and discomfort on decision making and execution of a selected route.

 

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