The ability to navigate accurately is a really important skill for all hill walkers. In British mountains in particular the weather and visibility can change very rapidly, making it especially important for mountain users to be able to navigate effectively even in limited visibility. This lake district 2 day navigation course aims to give you the map and compass skills to enable you to navigate in all weathers and is suitable for beginners upwards, also a great course for family groups.

The course is based in the Langdale and/or Ullswater areas – and kicks off with a short introduction indoors,followed by a day out on the fells learning about contours, learning to pace and time distances, and getting to grips with really understanding what the map is showing us and how landscape features are represented. Many navigation skills course participants liken this day to learning a new language, and are pleasantly surprised at how fast they can learn it! On day 2, we consolidate on the skills gained on day 1, and also get to grips with taking and following compass bearings, and understanding the right situations to use a range of new techniques such as following ‘handrails, ‘aiming off’ and using ‘attack points’.



  • Maps, scales, grid system, grid references
  • Concept of the three D’s – Direction, Distance and Detail
  • The Compass, different types, advantages and disadvantages, measuring and taking bearings, allowing for magnetic variation
  • Techniques for following bearings in bad visibility, back bearings
  • Pacing distances and timing distances, all measuring and calculations,
  • Understanding Contours – the shape of the land – and interpreting map features
  • Navigation in very poor visibility
  • Navigating around obstacles
  • Routefinding skills – using the natural land ‘flow’ – hazard awareness etc

The maximum ratio at any one time will be 1:6, and it will often be lower than this, enabling us to give high levels of personal instruction.


Our Navigation Skills courses are based in the Langdale area,  There is some excellent accommodation available locally including the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and Britannia Inn  in Langdale. there are some superb walking areas ideal for learning about navigation lie close by. The course programme is flexible, to take into account the weather and the group, but broadly follows the following outline:

DAY 1: Navigation Skills Course meets at 9.15am. Main topics covered. Introduction – scales, which map to use, the grid system and grid references; Detail – one of the crucial elements of the first day – learning to interpret not just the symbols, but the contours to show us the land shape and form. Most participants are really surprised at how much detail there is on a map. Distances – how to measure them from the map, and how to estimate them in terms of pacing and timing. By the end of the day you should be able to interpret the landscape effectively using the symbols and contours on the map, and be able to measure distances, and time or pace them. This forms the first two elements of the ‘3 D’s’. In the introduction we may use Memory Map software to help illustrate key points relating to this day.

DAY 2: Course meets 9.15am. Main topics covered: Refresher on yesterday; The Compass – taking bearings and following them in different levels of visibility. The 3 D’s – dividing your journey into legs and for each leg being able to follow a direction, for a set distance, whilst identifying a range of features suitable for confirming position; Attack points; Aiming off; Handrails; The course ends with group members trying to use all the techniques learned over the weekend to locate a single stone in the middle of a desolate moorland – and most do!. The course emphasis will be on allowing you to do as much practical navigation work as possible, building up your skills as the weekend progresses at your own pace and level.


Most dates throughout the year can be catered for, please contact to discuss.



2 Persons£120
3 or more Persons£80

 We also run a 1 day “Intro to navigation” course, this is a great introduction for people that want to build confidence, we cover everything that’s covered in day 1 of our 2 day course, so all the fundamental basics are covered, click here for more info.


If you have any questions about the course you can get in touch by email at info@mountainguides.co.uk