Natural Navigation Course Report

natural navigation tree

Three trees nicely demonstrating directional trends…

This course is one of my favourites, as no two courses are the same. Natural Navigation, like foraging, is something that humans are ‘built’ to do. We have over 200,000 years of practice behind us and with only a little coaching most people can unlock a hidden ability, or at least become aware of something they had been doing without realising!

For this course we met the group outside a school in the village of Rhewl and chatted for 10 minutes or so about who we all were, and what we would be doing in the day. This then led into a discussion about the natural and man-made cues and signs that surrounded us. The trees and hedges in the gardens, the moss on the roofs, the satellite dishes and even the TV aerials all told a story about direction, prevailing winds and where in the sky the sun can most likely be found.

From here we climbed a small wooded hill outside the village, following a public footpath but looking out for the natural markers that would help us find our way back to the start if we needed. We paused by a field gate to look back down on the valley, closely examining the view and discussing the navigational information we could glean from it:

“Is that the same square house with the tall chimney that we passed on the way up? So that means the school is behind that tall fir tree…”

We delved further into the woods and talked about strategies for using these skills in cities, how to use the sun, stars and moon and stopping to discuss a few natural navigation myths…

The last half of the day was bringing everything we had covered together and using it to plot a route from our lunch stop in the woods back to the village. A combination of landscape interpretation, directional knowledge gained from trees and the sun plus some common sense saw us back on the outskirts of the village – all without a map, GPS or Google Maps! Occasionally we had to double-check our assumptions, and during a short ‘debate’ over direction the crescent moon appeared, happily helping to settle the matter!

natural navigation

Both natural and man-made indicators of direction, nearby settlement and a useful set of landmarks!

Our Natural Navigation Courses are suitable for all abilities and fitness levels. Anybody who loves the outdoors will find something useful here, especially if you want to see the world around you in a new way. I can guarantee that if you come along on this course, you will spend the next week spotting the direction tree branches are growing, where the sun is and squinting at distant rooftops looking for moss and algae.

GPS Training Course Report November 2014
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