Mountain Navigation


This weekend we had a Mountain Navigation weekend. I won’t lie to you, the weather wasn’t great; it rained lots, and I got blown off my feet a couple of times. Still we finished the weekend smiling. Why you may ask, bit it wasn’t that we’d beaten the weather or anything profound. It was the seeing that as navigation was turned from a dirty word that conjured up pictures of men in beards and sun faded Goretex, to a mental game that unlocked the use of the mountains in all seasons and weathers. Quite a useful thing with the weather we get in the UK fells!

Our approach is to make navigation quick and interesting, rather than slow, patronising and boring. Believe us, we’ve spent too many days in the company of people who enjoy telling you how great their navigation is, and what a black art it should be. Strangely you never see those people in the hills on the cloudy days, as they tend to be based in a cafΓ© or pub, talking at anyone within earshot. Our focus on real hill skills, and quick efficient navigation, is appreciated because it shows that it is easily accessible, and that it can be anything but boring as it can be used by any mountain user.

Take this weekend for example, a client was using it to enable her to undertake mountain ultra running events, where navigation was needed. For her, navigation was far more than staring at a map and compass. It was all about route choice, pacing, calculating times to checkpoints, and tips to navigate quickly such as using a watch altimeter. Yesterday the weather was quite frisky on the Coniston Fells. MWIS had suggested the winds would generate minor buffeting, but for a while it felt like we had full body buffeting! After moving quickly over several summits including Weatherlam, Swirl How and the Old Man of Coniston, it wasn’t until after midday that we saw anyone else on the mountain, despite being in a National Park on a weekend.

For me, that’s what navigation really should be all about; to open up the use of the mountains in our British weather on all days, to be able to revel in the isolation of the mountains, whenever and wherever you are, and never to feel that poor visibility will curb your enjoyment or safety in the mountains. Navigation is a tool, rather than an activity, despite the protests of the beard and RonHill clad types in the cafΓ© in the valley floor far below. Come and see what it’s all about on one of our weekends; click for itinerary here.

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