Saturday, August 16, 2008

Natural Navigation

I've always enjoyed navigation whether on land hiking up hills or on the water, checking marks and setting a course to a distant over the horizon destination.

And its a lot more fun to use numerous cues from the world around than just taping in lat / long into the GPS.

I remember one case climbing the Paps of Jura. These are wild and almost untouched by mankind. There are no paths or trails with signposts, steps, and handrails laid on by National Trust volunteers. You just look at the way ahead and pick a route that looks right.

Its harder but more rewarding. Once the mist came down and we had not only no GPS but no compass either, so I had to navigate back using contours alone, and was very pleased to come out of the clouds and find out we were exactly where I expected to be.

These forms of skills make up the basis for a new school of navigation here in the UK - the Natural Navigator. As its web site says:

The Natural Navigator is a small school that specialises in training natural navigation.

Natural navigation is the art of being able to find your way solely by reference to natural clues. It encompasses using the sun, moon, stars, weather, water, land, plants and animals.

Our courses are designed for those who enjoy the outdoors: walkers, sailors, pilots, expedition members, adventurers, travellers and explorers.

By spending time in our classrooms our students become better connected to the world around them as they learn skills that few others possess

The course is run by Tristan Gooley, who is one of the few people who have sailed single handed across the Atlantic and also flown single handed across that ocean.

Appropriately I first met Tristan as he was one of the crew of the boat that I joined to sail the ARC a couple of years ago. During the day he'd be the one taking sights using the sextant and at night checking the constellations against the astronomy book.

I'm going to sign up for the 1 day course as it sounds fascinating.


tillerman said...

Cool. Always good to know how to find the Proper Course.

Katinka said...

That does sound awesome!! :)

Wish they had something like that here...I could definitely use some innate GPS, or perhaps I just need to bring a cow along with me next time I go hiking in the mountains!

JP said...

If a cow knows where north is then surely a Kalamity-Katicus can navigate by following her nose?

Katinka said...

(I've heard it tends to work the other way Down Unda...K.Katici tend to have poor navigational skills unless there's freshly baked shortbread involved)

JP said...

No doubt as long as the short bread has passionfruit icing!