STUDY THE MAP & PLAN THE ROUTE
SET THE MAP IN RELATION TO THE GROUND
LEARN TO USE A COMPASS BEFORE YOU NEED TO USE IT
HAVE MAP & COMPASS TO HAND ON THE WALK
KNOW WHERE YOU ARE
INFORM & CHECK IN WITH A RESPONSIBLE PERSON
TIMING - To estimate your journey time, use 4kph plus 1 minute per 10 metres of height gain. Add 10 minutes per hour for rests.
PACING - Use a known distance between to fixed points to wotk out how many paces you take over 100 metres. Adjust this accordingly to the terrain
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Navigation - Read this or GET LOST!
Every year, tourists, walkers nad climbers get into trouble on the Scottish Hills due to errors of navigation. If you intend to go into the Scottish Hills, even the low ones, it is essential that you plan the walk using appropriate maps of the area.
Work out roughly how long the walk you have selected should take - this will depend on your fitness and the capability of the weekest member of your party along with a number of other factors:
STEEPNESS OF THE GROUND - you may have to zigzag your route
TERRAIN - walking is often harder than the map would suggest due to boulders, sree or boggy and vegetated ground
WEATHER - bad weather and poor visibility can dramatically affect estimated times
STREAMS - these can quickly become swollen and impassable in heavy rain
If you are inexperienced and/or you do not know the area, seek local advice about the route
Get instruction and learn how to use a map nad your compass, starting in easy conditions and practicing until you are competent in bad weather.
Use a compass with a long base plate that is easy to read and well damped. Silva UK produce a good compass as well as other nvigational aids. Before leaving you may want to take note of crucial bearings you may require on the walk.
You should also plan an alternative route incase of unexpected conditions or emergencies. Remember, don't feel obliged to carry on - it is safest to turn back early.
If you leave details of your routes with a responsible person before you leave, make sure you contact them on your return.
ON THE HILL
While on the hill, even in good visability and on paths, pay attention to the map and be sure of your position. Do not wait until you are lost before you use your map and compass - it could be too late!
If mist or cloud begins to close in, note the ground features, estimate their position and distance from you and judge how long it will take for you to reach them. Use timing and pacing to help you. Pay particular attention to contours and try to stick to your chosen route.
Take extra care when leaving summits of where ridges meet. Gross errors are made here and when descending in poor visability. Many parties become separated or lost at this phase.
If you become unsure of your position, either retrace your track to the last known position or head in a direction that will take you back on course if it is safe to do so.
If completely lost, stop and consider which is the safest way of the mountain. Use the compass to travel carefully in that direction, using the map and ground features together until you recognise features and relocate yourself.
Some of the most exhilarating mountain days can be had in winter, but it is wise to obtain extra instruction in the skills of using ice axe and crampons
Keeping track of where you are on snow covered ground and in poor visability needs a high degree of navigational skills and much practice to be successful. Unfortunately, winter tragedies are caused by prople straying onto dangerous ground or falling through cornices. When 'whiteout' conditions develop due to snow being blown about and cloud, it is easy to become disorientated and extremely difficult to navigate.