It’s only 3 weeks since I finished the Arch to Arc and I’m bored. I knew I would be although I’m back in full training I needed something to think about. So I booked myself on a weekend away in the Lake District to improve my map reading.
I booked on a 2 day course with www.mountainsplus.co.uk and didn’t really know what to expect. I arrived at the car park in Elterwater early Saturday morning, I had got up at 02:30 to get there on time (it’s a 300 mile drive). I was met by Stewart from Mountains Plus and one other client. This course is usually for 6 people so we were both really pleased that we would get so much out of the course with just 2 of us.
We were both armed with our compass and OS map and not much idea how to use them properly. We started with getting an idea of distance and pacing. How far is 100m and how long does it take to walk it? You just don’t really know until you have a map, measure it and walk it. From there we started learning about map orientation and following where you are on the map with your thumb. We started to pick out the small detail on an OS map that you don’t even know is there. A wall, a quarry, wooded areas, and the list goes on. We were repeatedly asked to show where we were on the map with pin point accuracy (I found out very quickly if you guess you are always wrong). We found out how important it was to pay attention to your surroundings. Up, down and 360 degrees round.
As the day progressed the navigation got harder, the land marks to find where we were got smaller and more subtle. We moved on to route finding and setting a bearing on your compass to find your way. This took us through to the end of the day. The day went very quickly and we walked quite a distance in the hills. We finished off back at our cars very satisfied by what we had learnt.
I was camping on my own that evening in the National Trust Campsite in Great Langdale and had dinner in a really nice pub called The Old Dungeon Ghyll.
The rain started about midnight and it didn’t stop! When I woke up I found that the field I was camping in was very nearly a lake, my lightweight summer tent only just kept the rain out.
I got myself back to the meeting point to sort myself out breakfast as the campsite was just silly. I sat in the boot of my car eating my porridge looking towards the hills and the rain was coming sideways. When Stewart arrived we did a small amount in his van about grid references but that was our only opportunity to stay dry. We walked down to the river we had been close to the day before with the intention to walk along the path next to it but it had already been flooded, plans changed but we were still staying out. We headed back in to the hills and spent the rest of the day route finding with bearings, learning more about contour lines and more features on the map. The rain was just silly and it never stopped.
We got back to the cars about 14:00 like drowned rats but really pleased with the 2 days and so much more confident about our navigation skills.
I would recommend this course to anyone interested and i’ll be soon trying to find time to go on the advanced course.