Rohan Map and Compass Day

Trying to name and locate distant peaks through map orientation

Rohan Map and Compass Day Wales – Sat 20th November 2010

On the 20th November, eight Rohan enthusiasts joined mountain instructors, Stu Stanley and Lee Roberts for a ‘Map and Compass day’. As part of the Rohan Connect series of days out, the eight enjoyed a day, learning essential navigation and timing skills to put into practice when they’re next out on the hills.

A few of the attendees have kindly shared their experience of the day with us. To be kept up to date with future days out, simply sign up for Rohan Connect

After introductions we were on the mountains at 10.15am. No text book exercises and theory here.

It was immediately out with maps and compasses, placing the map in the right direction (facing grid north) and finding out where our cars were parked, thus accurately establishing our start position. The features of the Silva Compass were briefly explained and we were taking our first bearing as to the direction we were to go in. Northings and Eastings were explained as were contours and timings. The next exercise was pacing and here 100m was 60 double paces for me. Underground conditions, terrain and whether you are going up a slope or down it, will affect the timings but throughout the day the group got this fairly accurate. Timing was also explained and tested and again proved accurate. Various practical exercises saw us by noon not too far from the top of Gyrn at 542m and time for a welcomed lunch break.

The afternoon saw members of the group individually lead to designated points set by the leader. Discussion on various hill walking topics was constant as we made our way from point to point. Ever so enjoyable and the importance of looking closely at the features of the hill sides all around you, the compass, the map and how to use both began to sink in.

As the sun was going down after a glorious day, two fingers between the sun and the earth indicated half an hour of good light left. We took a bearing for a settlement on the map and timing indicated we should arrive in fifteen minutes which was spot on. It was then up to the top of Llefn at 443m as a full moon appeared in all its magnitude. We were safely back at our cars at 4.30pm and for the group a massive sense of achievement. A great day and so much learnt. For me a massive “gap” in my hill walking “portfolio” had been filled.

Like the Rohan products this was a quality course led by knowledgeable, approachable and inspiring Leaders.

Top Tip – When the temperature drops your bear hands get cold very fast. If this happens place them, one at a time, on the back of your neck to warm them up, go into your rucksack and put on your liners and gloves.

Fraser Mackay

Firstly what a great day and for your time, patience and enthusiasm thanks very much

I can now (if I get the map the right way up) navigate from point A to point B using correct heading/bearing and work out the distance and also time to cover this distance.

I was recently at a meeting with my 2 friends planning the 3 peaks. They were talking about bearings and distances and I felt left out. I would now be able to chip in thanks to Stu.

Also the same friends have asked me to arrange a map reading day with them which I now know I can do.

I had not really picked up a map until last week but have now purchased the OS map around my home town which I shall be using at the weekend. My son also wants to learn to understand mapping as he will be doing his Duke of Edinburgh, so some lessons will be coming his way.

Steve Hine

Thanks for a great day in the hills; it really inspired me to get back out into the mountains again.

Top Tip – Practice using your compass so when you really need it you are confident in what you’re doing. Don’t think you know what you’re doing, actually make yourself try it out – become a navigation nerd (It could get you safely down off the hill when the weather closes in)! Thanks to Lee for a very interesting day explaining the finer arts of becoming a navigation nerd! He’s particularly proud of his home made prayer beads, a chunky shoelace and beads. Beware though he’s patented this particular very colourful design! More seriously these colourful beads have a very serious use in recording your distance walked – 1 bead per 100 metres.

Wendy Astill

Thanks for a really great day, for me personally, it was more of a refresher to check that I hadn’t forgotten my basic skills. But as they say, you always learn something new, so my top tips from the day are as follows:-

1. Make sure your compass has a clear base plate, makes orienteering the map so much easier, (my old Silva (40yrs+) hasn’t, so using a side line on the bezel was just plain awkward).

2. If possible use a cut down section of the OS map of the area where you are walking. Makes use much easier, especially in windy conditions. However always have a spare map in your rucksack.

3. When you are cold, don’t warm your hands by blowing on them, place them on the back of your neck. Far more effective.

4. When estimating the amount of day light left, 1 finger width beneath the sun and the visible horizon is approximately 15 minutes of light.

A fist with the thumb inside the fingers when between the lower edge of the sun and the visible horizon will give you 10 degrees of elevation or 1 hour of day light before sunset. Always remember that twilight will depend upon the time of year and your latitude.

My thanks to you both for a really great day, and to Rohan for setting it up.

Paul. S. Gibbins.

My experience ‘Map and Compass training day’

I’m a 42 year old Mancunian born and bred within 10 miles of the City centre. I recently moved further afield to the edge of the Peak district which is wonderful. My wife and I acquired two border terriers and have developed a love of walking as a result ……our problem however is that we always follow a route laid down in a guide book or recognised trail.

Whilst I can read and understand a map it’s been well over 20 years (at school) since I practiced any form of navigation. I was given one of those fancy walking satnavs for Christmas last year but other than being able to see how far and fast I have walked it hasn’t helped a great deal. So my aim for the training day was to build some skills and confidence in navigating off the beaten track. So how did it go?

Well first off, big praise to our instructors, they did an excellent job and provided me with a great day out. They shared lots of their experience and top tips which will be invaluable on adventures to come. For me the big learning of the day came around using the compass to navigate between two points on the map.

I’ve read a book on navigation before now but you just can’t beat getting out there and doing it for real, you learn so much more by doing. I can now confidently take compass bearings between points and have the skills to double check I’m on the right path and exactly when I should reach my destination, ticking off the features I have identified from the map along the way.

So imagine I set off now into the beautiful hills behind my house and then bad weather drops in quickly, no problem I am confident that I can now plot my route home from anywhere with a map and compass. Here’s my top tip – make sure you break it down into manageable chunks 500m or so. My Electronic gadget will act as confirmation and reassurance for me, confirming to me where I am on the map.

Whilst I am writing this I also wanted to mention some of the Rohan gear I wore on the day. In the last Rohan sale I bought a pair of Superstriders and choose the training day to give them their first test drive. 10/10 out for me. Extremely comfortable all day long, very flexible and super resilient shrugging off mud, water and scrambling rocks. I particularly liked the leg vent options. I also wore a merino wool base layer with a Rohan Microgrid Stowaway Zip fleece. Again I was toastie warm all day without once becoming sweaty, even when working hard.

My thanks to Rohan for designing some good gear and organising the day. My thanks to my fellow participants and a big thank you to Stuart and Lee for providing a first class day out.

Ian Houghton

Rohan Heritage

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