59, 60, 61, 62, 63...
The first rule of navigation club is .. learn to count. Breaking down a 25k hike climbing 1100m is really just ten 2 1/2k 110m climbs.. thats really just 152 steps... done over and over between different markers. Simple!
I've been walking through the hills of Scotland for many years now, and have ended up in my fair share of dodgy situations.. almost all due to my own miscalculations. The reality is being out in the hills alone can be dangerous and with some projects coming up which will require us to track out into the Highland wilderness it was good timing to get some guidance.
Glenmore Lodge is the home of outdoor training in the UK, and the navigation skills courses are designed to get you up to speed and confident out on the hill quickly. The quality of the instructors is second to non, they are just a wealth of knowledge. Our leader Fi has adventured all over the world and her ability to communicate things so clearly helped even me to understand how to establish a bearing and navigate my way out of a difficult situation with confidence.
Conditions were, for a navigation course, ideal. We had rolling hill fog, driving rains, gale force winds and bright sun.. all in the space 5 hours. Never a dull moment in the Scottish Highlands.
One of the key pieces of information that we picked up from the training program was the 5 D's.. a basic series of questions that you can use to make good decisions out on the hill:
Direction - Where are we heading?
Distance - How far are we going to travel to get there? This isn't for the whole leg, just between features.
Duration - How long should this leg take?
Description - What are we going to see on route? For example along the way you will expect to cross a stream, pass a shed, past a crag on the left etc
Destination - What are we heading for? It could be something big like a trig point/path junction/road crossing. It could be a sudden change in the angle of a slope, a farm house or stream.
For me, keeping this in mind when ever out is going to go a long way to making getting home a certainty.