I was running a NNAS (National Navigation Award Scheme) Bronze Award course last week, but one of the participants had to pull out a few days before. A job interview understandably took priority, so we arranged to repeat the course a week later. Due to the short notice, there wasn’t really any additional interest when I tried to advertise the new dates. So it has just been Paul and I that met up just to the east of Church Stretton, in the Shropshire Hills, on a rather chilly and foggy Friday morning.
In the hope that the cloud might lift a little given time, and took advantage of the warmth of a car to look through kit and maps. It soon became clear that Paul’s particular passion is mountain biking, so everything started to take on a biking slant when discussing equipment, clothing, route choice, emergency procedures etc.
As it turned out, the low cloud was set in for the duration which was not ideal for the first day of the course, but we have little control over the weather. With limited visibility, it became a little harder to perform basic skills, such as orientating the map by identifying features on the ground, but Paul worked hard and started to get his head around things. At the start of the morning, he’d expressed a particular interest in developing an understanding of contour lines and features, so this became more of a focus than it usually is on basic navigation courses. However, it wasn’t particularly easy due to not being able to see too clearly.
To facilitate Paul’s interest in contour interpretation, we returned to the Shropshire Hills for the second day as well. However, we worked around the Long Mynd area to the west of Church Stretton this time, where the map is covered in contours due to the steeply undulating and relatively complex terrain. Thankfully, the visibility was fantastic, meaning that Paul could see better and made the whole day a pleasure to be in such a beautiful area. This gave us the opportunity to look at large features such as hills, valleys and ridges but also smaller features such as reentrants and ring contours whilst practicing a range of other navigational techniques.
Having one to one tuition is always going to have a significant impact, and Paul’s ability to interpret the map and effectively keep track of progress came on leaps and bounds over the last 2 days. Well done – now it’s time to get out there and practice!