Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Baby Steps - learning to navigate

Being sensible enough to realise that it's not particularly wise to venture out into the hills with no navigation skills at all I decided to do something about it.  So I booked myself on the navigation course which was being held the day after the Lakeland50 recce in Ambleside at the beginning of November.  Now being me I also decided to take the opportunity to spend a couple of nights in a B & B so that I could combine the course with a day of Christmas shopping.  Booked a B & B online, always a bit of a gamble, but it turned out to be perfect, just a stone's throw away from the venue and very well appointed.  I was even given an upgrade to a double room woop woop.    
I travelled down immediately after our village craft fair at which I was helping.  Settled in to new home and went out looking for sustenance which I found in a lovely Fish and Chip cafe'.  Didn't think I'd feel out of place as it was quite quiet and seemed to be populated by locals which was in contrast to the more up market eateries which looked like they will full of couples or groups.  Anyway food was lovely and I headed back to B & B armed with some wine and had a nice relaxed shower, drinkie and read of my book bliss.

Next morning up bright and early, lovely breakfast which I couldn't do justice as I was extremely nervous about the day to come ( I know not like me to not be able to eat).  One of the other guests was also on the course so we walked up to the hall together.  I was terrified I wouldn't be able to keep up, cope etc on the course, but no worries as they say in Oz.  The leaders had it all sussed out and we were very neatly slotted into groups according to ability and ability plus pace.  On of my former clubmates was one of the instructors, he led the very good, very fast group.   My group was taken by the very lovely Stuart Smith who's jokes and laid back teaching manner made the whole day a joy. 

The whole day was very hands on , learning from doing rather than sitting being taught.  Almost immediately we were out onto Loughrigg Fell getting stuck into orienting the map, learning the symbols and how to apply what we were seeing with our eyes to what was on the paper in front of us.   As you can see it was a beautiful day which certainly helped. 

Bottom photo shows Stuart demonstrating the correct way to steady your compass.  We had just had lunch at this point, and found out more about each other.  One of the chaps was another Lakeland 50 guy, he was accompanied by his wife who was a keen walker.  One of the girls was a fell runner and Keith in white was also a keen long distance walker who had never learned any navigation as he normally went on guided walks, but was now wanting the spread his wings a bit, so you can see we were all fairly clueless.  However apparently (according to Stuart who could have been using psychology on us) we were doing so well that we progressed past what he thought he'd be teaching us and were branching out taking  and walking on bearings and all sorts LOL.

Walking on our bearing brought us to the top of the hill, now, there's a view.  By this time it was getting on in the afternoon and time to start making our way back down to Ambleside.  Practicing our new navigation skills as we went.  Once back in the hall we made ourselves some coffee and waited for the others to get back in.  I caught up with Jessica who is another 50 person and we had a chat about the recce the day before which I hadn't been able to go to.  She is giving serious thought to what Mark said in his lecture and is planning a re-organisation of her training programme.  Me I'm staying with what I do I'm a tortoise, plodder call it what you will and will probably always be that.  

Really chuffed with my day I decided to treat myself to a nice pub dinner and headed to The Unicorn for a hearty steak pie and chips.    Then back to the B & B for another nice relaxing night.  I did my next day breakfast justice by the way.  Unfortunately the lovely weather of Sunday did not carry on into Monday and it rained and rained and rained which made Christmas shopping a bit of a soggy adventure.  Cut the day short and headed home.  All in all a brilliant weekend.  Thanks to Nav4 Advenutre and Stuart in particular.

On the training front I have just been kicking back and taking it easy.  Heading to running on Monday nights and doing between 3 and 3.5 miles>  Walking with the dogs on Sundays is still going on, we've had some cracking walks of about 5 miles each time.  Managed to get up to Glenkiln a couple of Sunday's ago, somewhere Ive not been in years, but somewhere I'll be back again to very shortly.  I can see navigation practice taking place up as it's not an area I know well so plenty of map and compass practice to be had.

So that's about it.  Very Very busy at work, and also trying to get my SVQ finished to so that can concentrate on plans for next year.

If I don't blog again before Christmas, have a good one.

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