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Planning a Navigation Leg – Tip #55

By 14th December 2020February 12th, 2023Navigation, Resources, Tips

Planning a Navigation Leg

On navigation courses I frequently use this beginners’ tip for planning a navigation leg. I encourage clients to consider each navigation leg as a set of directions that you would give someone in “real life”. Suppose you were visiting me at my house and wanted to know where the nearest cash-point/post-office/pub was. I would describe to you in just the right amount of detail how to get there. Not enough detail and you are likely to miss something and go wrong; too much detail and you’ll get confused and forget important steps.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Thinking about directions

When planning a navigation leg, using this tip is a good habit to get into. Try to think of the following components:

  • What will you be walking along? (Road, path, track. Or maybe a mountain ridge etc).
  • What will be to your left and right? (Houses, woods, river. Or maybe steep cliffs, a gentle uphill slope etc).
  • How far or for how long to you go along each segment? (Follow the road for 10 minutes. Or maybe head steeply uphill for 500 metres etc).
  • What will you pass along the way? You could call these landmarks, or the more technical term of ‘tick-off features’. (Cross-roads, traffic lights, post-office. Or maybe a ridge dividing/splitting, the entrance to a valley, or a gradient change from gentle to steep etc).
  • Are there changes in direction? (Turn left at the traffic lights. Or maybe head south when the slope steepens etc).
  • What does the place look like. This is often referred to as the ‘target’. (The King’s Arms – large white pub with wooden seats outside and lots of hanging baskets of flowers. Or maybe the summit of the mountain; or a small knoll just west of a small lake 50m x 50m, etc).
  • Finally, many sets of directions finish with the words “and if you see x then you’ve gone too far”. These are referred to as a ‘catching feature’. (If come to a large Tesco then you’ve gone too far. Or maybe, if you are looking for the summit and you start going downhill, then you’ve gone too far).

Other Navigation Tips for Beginners

Read Tip #56 on coarse and fine navigation for a further refinement of planning a navigation leg.

You can read many other map reading and navigation tips for beginners in our main article on the subject.

One book that I really recommend is the Cicerone book ‘Navigation’ by Pete Hawkins.