Basic Navigation Tips
- Check your bearings are logical before committing yourself to a navigation leg.
- Compasses have 360 degrees, increasing from zero in a clockwise direction so:
East is 90 degrees
South is 180 degrees and
West is 270 degrees.
It follows that if your intended route is between North and East, then the bearing should be lower than 90 degrees.
If you’re going between East and South, it should be between 90 and 180 degrees. Between South and West, the bearing should be between 180 and 270 degrees and between 270 and 360 degrees for routes between West and North.
If your bearing appears to be 180 degrees out, then you probably have had your Compass upside down. This is a very common mistake to make.
- Use a Compass with a long baseplate, because they’re easier to handle with gloved hands and if Back Bearings are being taken, the feature from which a bearing is being taken is often closer to the edge of the Compass.
- Compasses without baseplates are fairly useless for accurate navigation and should not be used. Back Bearings cannot be taken without a baseplate.
- Compasses with (air) bubbles in may be inaccurate and should not be used. Some manufacturers will replace compasses which develop bubbles.
- Compasses should be kept away from magnetic objects – like GPS devices, cameras, radios, other compasses, electrical pylons, wire fences and even parked cars.
- Navigation may be more effective if carried out by pairs of walkers. Bearings and timings and distance measurements can be agreed, as can route details, Tick Features, Catching Features and so on. You can also take turns at leading with the second checking that the correct direction is being followed.
A day or two practicing like this can be fun and instructive while silly mistakes, like getting the compass upside down can be avoided.