How to choose the right map scale – 25k, 40k or 50k?

How to choose the right map scale – 25k, 40k or 50k?

There are two mapping scales that tend to be used for walking, mountaineering and other human-powered travels across the landscape in the UK – 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 scales. The main producer of topographical maps for outdoor activities (and everything else) is the Ordnance Survey (OS), and the 1:25,000 (Explorer) and 1:50,000 (Landranger) scales are readily available at outdoor shops, online and local retailers. They also produce various digital mapping products, as well as an online mapping service and smartphone app. Continue reading

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Pacing, timing or ticking off – measuring distance when navigating on foot

Pacing, timing or ticking off – measuring distance when navigating on foot

On our navigation courses we always end up coming around to the subject of distance. Indeed, it’s one of the ‘D’s of navigation and unless you intend to just stand still and survey the surrounding countryside you’ll need to deal with the problem of measuring distance both on the map and on foot at some point or another.

There are three ways that we cover in depth on the EST Framework navigation courses – ‘pacing‘, ‘timing‘ and the enigmatically named ‘ticking off‘. They each have their merits, but also a few drawbacks. Like pretty much every other navigational technique – they are just a tool in the toolkit, and it is up to you to select the right one for the right task Continue reading

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GPS, Smartphones and Operational Security – is Strava the only problem?

GPS, Smartphones and Operational Security – is Strava the only problem?

The recent hullabaloo over the Strava heatmap reminded me of a strange case from a few years ago…
If you have any kind of interest in GPS, fitness apps, unusual maps or just technology news then you were probably at least vaguely aware of a story about the fitness app Strava and some analysis of the heatmap they published last month. This publicly-viewable heatmap of anonymised user data isn’t new – but the last update was from 2015 data. The 2017 data release included over 1 billion activities and 10 terabytes of raw data. The total distance clocked up was 27 billion KM – 180 times the distance from the Earth to the sun. It’s an impressive piece of user-generated information and it’s quite good fun to see which are the most popular routes to the summit of Snowdon, or the tracks made by people swimming, kayaking or SUP’ing in Llyn Padarn.

There’s also potentially a bit of a security risk – but that’s something I’ve got prior experience of, and it’s still a potential problem for those who work in ‘sensitive’ areas of the world. Continue reading

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Our 2018 course dates are online!

Our 2018 course dates are online!

The 2018 Courses are now live! Around this time of year I normally find myself pretty much locked in the office working out course dates and descriptions for the courses next year. We’ve found that a good number of our course participants attend our courses after receiving

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Private Expedition Training in North Wales

Private Expedition Training in North Wales

Private Expedition Training with Mike and Wayne In the winter of 2016 I was contacted by a gentleman (Mike) who was enquiring about the possibility of some bespoke private training. Funnily enough, Mike had found us through the review of the Katadyn Gravity Camp Water Filter we

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Wild Camping in Snowdonia during a storm!

Wild Camping in Snowdonia during a storm!

Wild Camping in Snowdonia Wind, rain and a microadventure in Snowdonia Rhian and I head off one evening for a wild camp on the side of Moel Siabod in northern Snowdonia

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Weekend Navigation Course Report February 2016

Weekend Navigation Course Report February 2016

Over the past two days I was joined by George, Chris and Barley in the hills of North-East Wales and the Clwydian Range AONB for the first Weekend Navigation Course of 2016. Continue reading

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No.4 – Porth Llechog to Beaumaris

No.4  – Porth Llechog to Beaumaris

Microadventure No.4 Porth Llechog to Beaumaris It’s difficult to determine what constitutes a ‘microadventure’, particularly when your job involves wild camping, exploring mountains and rivers and enjoying trips into wet, muddy and remote places a few times a month at least. For me it is something out

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NAVEMBER 2015

NAVEMBER 2015

NAVEMBER 2015 Every year we run a month of navigation training courses in North Wales and the Lake District during November. The courses run from entry-level Basic Navigation Courses through to GPS and Natural Navigation courses. November Navigation Course Dates Basic Navigation Course (Grasmere, Lake District) 7th-8th

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Bear Grylls – a fiction too far?

Bear Grylls – a fiction too far?

Bear Grylls – a fiction too far? Somebody asked me a question yesterday – a question that comes up most weeks with clients, or when people find out what I do for a living: “What do you think of Bear Grylls? Hmmm. Tough one. I normally answer

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The Autumnal Equinox

The Autumnal Equinox

The Autumnal Equinox There are four dates in the year that are important for the natural navigator, and anybody whop wants to live their lives in touch with the seasons – the summer and winter solstices, and the spring and autumn equinoxes. Due to a 23.5 degree

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VIDEO: Private guiding in Lake District

VIDEO: Private guiding in Lake District

VIDEO: Private guided trips in Lake District Back in August we helped a mother and daughter with the Lake District leg of a mountain challenge they had set for themselves – read more about their story HERE. If you have a UK outdoor challenge in mind then

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Which is more accurate – mils or degrees?

Which is more accurate – mils or degrees?
Which is more accurate - mils or degrees? When folk book on to our mountain navigation courses we send a kit list over which includes something along the lines of "compass suitable for taking bearings, the baseplate type such as the Silva Type 4 is ideal". WeRead more...

The Importance of Being… a navigator

The Importance of Being… a navigator

The Importance of being a Navigator A few years ago in an interview I was asked by the keen young journalist what my ‘Top 3 Survival Skills’ are. I paused for a moment to consider which I would choose, the immediate needs of water and shelter followed

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Natural Navigation Course Report, March 2015

Natural Navigation Course Report, March 2015

Natural Navigation Course Report, March 2015 On Saturday morning I once again wandered down through the fields and along the lanes to meet the group for today, this time for our first open Natural Navigation course of 2015. Working and teaching skills outdoors is one of the

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Basic Navigation Course Report, February 2015

Basic Navigation Course Report, February 2015

Basic Navigation Course Report, February 2015 Our first UK navigation course of 2015 was held this weekend past, with the first day once again based in the hills either side of the Horseshoe Pass, between Llangollen and Llandegla. We had a small group, with only two participants,

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All Outdoor Courses in January 2015

All Outdoor Courses in January 2015

January 2015 Courses from Original Outdoors Tracking and Night Navigation Courses The New Year marks the start of our 2015 calendar of outdoor skills and activity courses, and we are starting things off gently with a couple of advertised dates for tracking and night navigation courses: Introduction

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GPS Training Course Report November 2014

GPS Training Course Report November 2014

GPS Training Course Report A damp Sunday morning saw me walking the last few hundred metres up to Bwlch Pen Barras, the ‘top car park’ as it often known. This is a great meeting point for Moel Famau, and we often meet clients here for our navigation

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Natural Navigation Course Report November 2014

Natural Navigation Course Report November 2014

Natural Navigation Course Report 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

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Intermediate Navigation Course – November 2014 Course Report

Intermediate Navigation Course – November 2014 Course Report

Intermediate Navigation Course Report I’ve just returned from a cold and rewarding trip to the mountains of Snowdonia as part of our Intermediate Navigation Course. There is no such thing as a bad weekend in the mountains (unless it ends with somebody disappearing off over the horizon

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Basic Navigation Course Report, November 2014

Basic Navigation Course Report, November 2014

Basic Navigation Course Report This weekend we ran another Basic Navigation course up here in North Wales, honing the nav skills of a few more outdoor folk. These courses are aimed at beginners or complete novices and we start with the very basics of navigating with a

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No.3 – Mosedale Bothy

No.3 – Mosedale Bothy

Microadventure No.3 A trip to Mosedale Bothy I am finding this microadventure thing tricky to write up. We have so much fun here with our courses and trips that it can be difficult to separate the ‘work’ from the ‘adventure’. The end of October normally marks the

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2015 Course Dates and Offers

2015 Course Dates and Offers

2015 Course Dates and Offers Bonfire night and Halloween are safely out of the way – is it OK to start talking about Christmas yet? We have been working hard to ensure that we announce our 2015 dates in time for Christmas, as we sell dozens of

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Episode 1 – Interviewing Landscape Photographer Nick Livesey

Episode 1  – Interviewing Landscape Photographer Nick Livesey

Episode 1 Introducing our new podcast After nearly a year of interviewing, researching and trying to find time to get behind the computer and sort out the techie stuff we have finally managed to launch our long-promised podcast! This whole podcasting thing is relatively new to us,

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Navigation for Ultramarathons

Navigation for Ultramarathons

Navigation for Ultramarathons Ultramarathons are an area of huge growth in the UK outdoor market, and we are starting to see more interest from clients who want to improve their outdoor skills for this niche area of athletics. Last year we worked with Salim, who was heading

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Navember

Navember

#NAVEMBER No, that’s not a typo! November is now officially the Original Outdoors Navigation month. We are running courses throughout the month, as well as offering discounts on our Advanced Navigation coaching days. The ability to navigate safely and confidently in all terrain is one of the

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