Core navigation training: micro-navigation in Wasdale


After a lovely day in Langdale on Thursday, I was back over in Wasdale on Saturday, with Will from Cheshire who wanted to go through some micro-navigation technique in wet (make that very wet) and challenging conditions.

Will and I headed off from Wasdale Head at about 11am, fully Gore-Tex’d up, in horizontal driving rain. We traversed the slopes of Lingmell, taking our time and stopping to look at the different relocation techniques available to us, using only the features immediately around us to pinpoint the position on our maps – re-entrants and other contours being the order of the day.

Plan A was to head up towards Eskdale Fell, to play with the ring-contours and re-entrants on this hard to nav hillside, but the weather certainly was not playing ball – to say it was wild was an understatement.

Instead, Will and I headed up onto Lingmell Col, looking at measuring distance, pacing and timing on different types of terrain. We then picked an interesting line off the Col and down to Piers Gill, which was pretty impressive with all the water that had fallen from the sky overnight and all morning! Gorge scrambling today would have been ‘interesting’.

Scrambling down the path which runs east of the gill was also made interesting, by the rivers that had decided to use this usually entertaining scrambly path as their new course! Will stuck with it though and kept our location pin-pointed to impressive accuracy.

The fun was far from over though, with the confluence of Spouthead and Piers Gills and the other rivers at the bottom of gorge, producing some serious swift white water, but we managed to find a way across without going for a nasty swim.

Will and I were drying off an hour later, in the Wasdale Head Inn, who had the wood-burner lit, despite the June date.

It’s serious stuff out there at the moment – cold, wet, windy, extremely saturated ground, swollen fast flowing rivers and poor visibility.

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Pretty serious river crossings on the fells at the moment…

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