Our blog - Navigation for hill runners, Mar'17

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Navigation for hill runners

11-12 March 2017
A weekend running and navigating in the Pentland hills. Olly and Steven were leading, here's Steven's take on the days...

Navigation We'd been asked to run a navigation course for Scottish Hill Runners and as you might guess it was aimed at folk running in the hills. So after lots of prep, photocopying, route planning and laminating maps we were ready early Saturday morning.

Olly and I were hosting the event, with the 'classroom' part of the course taking place in the Flotterstone Inn's 'Garden Room'. We'd previously done the event from the north side of the Pentlands, but venues were hard to get at a reasonable cost - Dave Scott sorted out this one and it turned out to be just perfect.

Navigation After around 3 hours going through thoery getting maps and compass basics sorted, it was time to head up into the hills. We worked our way around the base of Castlelaw Hill discovering lots of re-entrants and finding errors on the maps and where Explorer Maps didn't agree with Landranger Maps. Looking at steep ground, finding burns not marked, we gradually found our way onto the broad shoulder of Capelaw Hill, where Olly had planned a 'boxing' exercise to practice walking on bearings - it worked well. Up to the summit of Capelaw, a bit of fun aiming on bearing for a final practice before calling it a day - well for the group anyway - Olly and I had then to mark tomorrow's mock Mountain Marathon course.

Navigation Sunday's weather was much better than predicted, so after rattling through more theory in our classroom, we planned the route over the mock Mountain Marathon course then got ready for the day's run on the hills. Olly and I also aimed out onto the hills, planning to be at specific points to ensure everyone's safety. Off folk went ! Olly saw them through the 'biscuit barrel' checkpoint (if you know the Pentlands, you'll know what I'm talking about). I caught up with them on Gask Hill - people were having a mixed experience - some checkpoints seemed difficult to find, some easy, but I think everyone found it a good learning experience. Olly ended up on the side of Allermuir for a final check before we met up back at Flotterstone.

Great fun and I hope Scottish Hill Runners will ask us to do it again next year !

More photos by Steven are here on Flickr.

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