The weather has been shocking here in the Lake District over the last couple of days, but some might argue that heavy rain, low cloud and strong winds = perfect weather to learn navigation skills. We agree, as when you really need to be able to navigate accurately you can pretty sure that it won’t be perfectly sunny with visibility reaching for miles.
Paul from Poland joined us for a 2-day navigation course on Tuesday and Wednesday. Paul wanted to learn new skills and reaffirm some old ones, to enable him to head off into the mountains with the confidence that he could find his way, whatever the conditions threw at him.
We picked Paul up in Ambleside on day 1 and headed over to Grasmere in the rain, for a wander up onto Silver Howe and Blea Rigg. On the way, we looked at simple navigation strategies, tick-off features and overshoot features, before eventually leaving the paths behind and heading into the mist, to start navigating off compass bearings and the shape of the land around us.
Paul picked up these new skills really easily and before long was successfully locating ring contours and reentrants without any drama.
After a wet Tuesday, we headed over to Coniston for day 2 of the course. After a couple of hours in the driving rain and 50mph winds above the Coppermines Valley, looking at timings, pacing and more compass work, we decided not to head any higher so drove over to Loughrigg above Ambleside for an afternoon of more advanced contour appreciation. After a few hours of navigating purely of contours and compass bearings, we looked at some steep ground skills so that Paul could feel more confident when ascending and descending steep slopes.
A couple of days of some foul weather, but Paul went away with a whole raft of new skills that he could now use to stay safe in the mountains.