Navigation Skills for Runners

08/05/2021 @ 10:00 am 4:00 pm

Keen to do more adventurous runs but worried about getting lost? Or are you interested in orienteering but don’t know where to start?

Brush up on your navigation skills with a day out on the hills with trail and fell runner and qualified Navigation Instructor, Emily Thompson. 

The course will provide you with skills to navigate in the countryside using paths, tracks and other linear features.

We will also look at more complex navigation needed for running across more difficult terrain while out orienteering, such as using compasses, making the most of contour features and tricks to allow you to be quicker at navigating while out running and orienteering.

This navigation course is designed specifically for runners although we won’t be running all day, so its essential you bring warm layers as there will be a lot of standing about practicing techniques. 

The course will be delivered by a qualified Mountain Leader and NNAS registered tutor, Emily Thompson. Emily is also a qualified first aider and an experienced member of Holme Valley Mountain Rescue team.

Social distancing will be observed throughout the day outdoors and Tinkadventures has been awarded Visit Britain’s ‘Good to Go’ standard for adhereing to COVID 19 best practice. If you want to read our COVID19 practice click here:

Course needs a minimum of 3 people to run.

Develop your Navigation Skills – Silver NNAS

29/04/2021 @ 6:00 pm 20/05/2021 @ 9:00 pm

A 4 week evening course for those who are keen to learn more navigation skills – includes Silver NNAS certification.

Aimed at those with some navigation experience, you will learn to navigate in the countryside away from paths and trails, across open moorland and countryside. We will cover basic map interpretation, compass work and contours.

We will meet at 6pm and aim to finish for 9.30pm on four Thursday evenings 29th April, 6th, 13th and 20th May. The course will cover the National Navigation Award Scheme Silver course syllabus. As this is a structured syllabus we will cover the whole content to ensure consistency but we can focus on specific areas of need for the group/ individuals as required.

The course will be delivered through a series of walks around the Colne Valley to aid navigation practice, so be prepared to be out on the hill.

The course will be delivered by a qualified Mountain Leader and NNAS registered tutor, Emily Thompson. Emily is also a qualified first aider. 

If you are interested but don’t want to pay the eventbrite fee get in touch for other payment methods –

Course needs a minimum of 4 people to run. 

Navigation for Hillwalkers – Private Booking

11/04/2021 @ 10:00 am 5:00 pm

The 1 day course teaches navigation skills for use on open moorlands and in the mountains away from footpaths.

The course will be tailored to the abilities of the group so all welcome. Booking is essential as there are limited places. 

During the day you will develop skills required to navigate to detailed features. We will look at accurate compass work, and an ability to use a multitude of navigational techniques to travel across country. You will learn which techniques are appropriate for specific terrain, for example; choosing an appropriate attack point, using pacing and timing, contour interpretation, navigational tactics and route finding. The skills learned are essential for navigating in poor visibility and for night navigation.


Have a go at Orienteering!

In the last month I’ve been working with members from East Pennine Orienteering Club to create a Marsden Virtual Orienteering course for their virtual series. Its live this week!

If you’ve never had a go at Orienteering this is a great way to try it out. From understanding the orienteering style of maps to learning how to navigate at speed and maintain the orientation of the map. The best bit is, you don’t have to be a fast runner – its all about ability to navigate accurately and come up with the best route between controls. You don’t even have to run at all, if you just want to use the courses for practicing navigation skills and techniques then just go for a walk.

So if you want to have a go, the Marsden courses – Long, Medium and Short – are all live on the website. If you don’t live nearby there’s lots of other virtual routes still live – as the courses will exist forever even after the weeks ‘race’ has ended.

Download the MaprunF app for your mobile if you want to log your time, and print out the maps. Instructions for MaprunF are on the EPOC website.

So get yourself outside and have a go!

(thanks to Richard for his help and putting up with my lack of IT skills!)

Using digital to practice old school navigation

I love navigation challenges and having done my first orienteering event in the cold damp months of February I was disappointed when Covid hit that there wouldn’t be more over the summer.

Back in February when being given a paper map at the start and food at the end was what events were about…

Then a friend introduced me to a series of virtual orienteering runs via the East Pennine Orienteering Club (EPOC) and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Virtual Orienteering

Virtual Orienteering has become a popular activity with both Orienteering clubs and event organisers using technology to provide ‘events’ for people to continue to participate in activities.

Whilst there’s a few different apps available, most are using MapRunF which is free to download and simple to use. The app allows the facility to ‘cheat’ (assuming its not been disabled by the event organiser!) by following the red line you create as you move.

Given clubs are using it to replace the punch and card of old orienteering events, most are disabling this function and ensuring participants use good old paper maps which can be downloaded from their own websites.

EPOC events have been great fun as they’ve kept them both short and urban to encourage participation. Theres a choice of length for the linear runs and sometimes there’s score events if you want to freestyle.

I quickly became addicted to racing round villages and parks trying to get my phone to ping at the checkpoints.

A lovely event around Scammonden Reservoir area…

…but with my head down looking for the right spot I forgot about considering route choice as I headed through brambles

Having the opportunity to do a weekly event has been great fun for encouraging me to be active when I’ve been feeling lazy and fed up. It has also given me something to be competitive about at a time when there’s been little happening – which has certainly brought the fun back into navigating.

My attempt at Holmfirth Long event and how it looks on the result page of MapRunF
how the paper map looks to get around the course

During this never-ending period of ‘not-lockdown-but-not-normal’ a number of race event organisers have also been using the MapRunF to organise free events, enabling people to get remain engaged with their events and encouraging new people out.

While I’ve been running races for a couple of years the race in the cold wet months of February was the first time I ever tried an orienteering event. So full of the excitement of EPOC events I had a go at the Explore Events Peak Raid events series.

Set in the White Peak, an area not that far from home but not one I’ve really explored much, this ticked all the boxes for me. A chance to try 2 hour events and get more mileage in my runs at the same time as explore new places. I wasn’t taking the races seriously enough to try to win, it was more about having a go and testing myself.

Via the end of the 4 events I had battled through head high bracken, been eaten alive by midges on sweaty hot evenings, slide down the steepest path into Castleton and been chased through a field by a herd of scary cows.

While I’d happily finished the first event half an hour early as I’d had a nice run, by the 4th event I was definitely zigzagging to get as many checkpoints as possible and actually being frantically competitive!

Geocaching – a geeks treasure hunt

During Lockdown my mountaineering club had virtual catchups with members. During one of these Laura presented on Geocaching. I’m not going to explain what geocaching is as its been around for decades now and if you haven’t heard of it you’ve clearly been hiding under a rock.

Having had a look at the map and discovered I seemed to be surrounded by geocaches around my village, and being trapped at home I took myself out for a spot of hunting.

Now I have to say, there is nothing about geocaching which translates to traditional navigation skills. You basically look at the app on your phone and follow it to find a cache, sometimes solving a puzzle along the way to find the right location.

That said, it is a fun way to get out and find yourself in very odd locations – rummaging down the side of a fence in the long grass for a box, or under a rock on the top of the moors. Its certainly made a few of my local runs a bit more interesting when I’ve been fed up of running the same routes.

If you find yourself a bit bored, geocaching can certainly give you the excuse you need to get out. Many of the caches give you interesting information about the local area, history and geology.

Going digital then?

In a word, no.

I do use digital mapping for planning routes, or quickly checking something when I’m out running. But I love a paper map a bit too much and don’t trust phones to not die when I’m out.

I’m a firm believer that being able to navigate is a life skill everyone should have – that there’s nothing more confidence building than being able to head out with a map and have a fantastic walk. Its also essential to avoid being the idiot who had to call out mountain rescue as all you had was a mobile phone which ran out of battery.

I do promote the OSLocate app to all who come on my courses as its a fantastic free tool to give you a grid reference when you need it. And unlike What3Words doesn’t require you to have mobile phone coverage so will work even when you don’t have data. Giving you a quick grid reference allows you to see where you are on a map and get yourself back to where you need to be. (I might rant about W3W another time)

OSLocate is free on Android and IOS so get it downloaded.

Thank to all the Orienteering clubs and event organisers who have embraced technology and despite the massive organising effort have provided free events for everyone to participate in. I’m hooked on randomly running around the countryside to get my phone to ping, so long may they continue!