A couple of weekends ago I took part in the Grampian Mountain Challenge - a 2-day Mountain Marathon / orienteering event on the Invercauld estate. Along with my partner we made some good navigation decisions, quite a few bad ones and a couple of real howlers.
Two thoughts I had at the end of weekend were that by doing the event it had sharpened up our navigation skills and if we were to run it again shortly afterwards we would be so much more on our toes as a result of the experience.
I've done lots of navigation training in the past and tested myself out on the hills hundreds of times. I've also done several mountain marathons, but with navigation you are only as good as your last day out. You have to keep working at it and you can never know enough.
Good navigation is at the heart of mountain safety, so it was good to spend a couple of days at the start of the winter season practicing our map reading skills, but we need to get out again soon to maintain that sharpness. After all, that is one of the key aspects of good navigation - sharpness.
With the onset of winter upon us its also that time of year when the MCofS's winter safety courses are filling up fast and the programme of Winter Safety Lectures is ready to roll. An awareness of the importance of good navigation is a major part of the message we'll be putting across this winter, so why not make a point of attending one of our courses or coming along to one or more of the winter safety lectures.
And now that I've got you thinking about navigation, why not try some competitive navigating by having a go at an orienteering event or a mountain challenge / marathon. Or perhaps just go out into a featureless bit of terrain sometime and set your own challenges. I remember once being set the challenge of finding the dot on an i on a 1:50,000 OS map. Now, there's one you can try next weekend!
Have fun and maybe see you at one of the winter lectures.