Bad Weather Navigation Course

Introduction by Lee Carwright:

Receiving instruction

Receiving instruction from Rory

Plans and travel arrangements had already been established prior the mass exodus to North Wales in search of Tal y Braich, our accommodation for the weekend activities. As per usual club members arrived in bits & drabs throughout Friday evening, following a hard day’s work no doubt? Having been a member for some time now I’ve noticed that Friday night conversations tend to have three main priorities:

  • Which way you travelled, departure time & congestion on route?
  • Debate & Deliberation over who has the most up to date & accurate weather forecast.
  • Who’s doing what, & who are they doing it with?

However, this weekend we had all signed up for a Bad Weather Navigation Course which was free to club members (subsidised by the BMC), thankfully who were not in the habit of getting lost but had not completed this course previously. As the fire roared in the living room the wind and heavy rain could be heard slashing against the building, naturally conversations turned to the suitability and appropriateness of the Welsh weather for tomorrow’s navigation course. Conversations faded slowly due to the level of alcohol that had been consumed during the evening and finally dictated bed time, somewhere in the early hours.

The following morning, and earlier than usual, a weary cluster of club members left the relevant comfort of Tal y Braich to assemble at the renowned Pete’s Eats café in Llanberis. Just as we were about to meet with our instructor for the day, a club member was seen bolting for the nearest outdoor shop to purchase a map & compass! You know who you are! A quick briefing with the instructor was undertaken whilst in café to evaluate the group’s overall navigational skills, prior experience and the course criteria to be covered. Then with some trepidation we all stumbled out fully prepared for a damp, wet and misty day on the hills. Quite apt for a Bad Weather Navigation Course we all thought!

Our first challenge of the day was to reassemble at the car park in Capel Curig! We left Llanberis behind and drove up to and over Pen y Pass The mist had begun to clear and patches of blue skies could be seen in the distance. Fortunately all nine of use, ten including instructor had managed to reassemble at said car park and well chuffed we were too with our achievement!


The days events, by Dan Jackson

About to ascend Clogwyn-Mawr

About to ascend Clogwyn-Mawr

Arriving at the car park behind Joe Browns the predictable unpredictability of the Welsh mountain weather meant the sun was shining… so much for the bad weather! We made our way across the road and into a field. The cowpats on the pathway was a clear indication that cow’s were about. This was proven correct at the sight of several cow’s. We went about halfway through the field before Rory got us to huddle round and figure out where we were using the 5 D’s (Description, Distance, Duration, Direction and Dangers).

Next task was to get over to the foot of Clogwyn-Mawr. Once we arrived we verified where we were and began looking at contour lines and seeing how they lay with the land. Checking and confirming the lumps and bumps of the ground around us. After this we took some bearings and made our way to the top of Clogwyn-Mawr reaching it at about 1200. At the top Rory gave each of us task’s, pointing out landmark’s and getting us to find them on the map with the skills we had picked up thus far on our journey of discovery.

Steve putting his map reading skills to the test

Steve putting his map reading skills to the test

Next, after having a quick bite to eat, Rory got 2 people at a time to lead the group to his chosen landmark. While the rest of the group figured out the destination. The landmark’s were little things like the edge of a contour line, while not being any significant landmark’s it really helped us hone our newly acquired skills. Mine and Chris Pearson’s landmark happened to be the summit of Crimpiau, not exactly hard to miss, so Rory got us to navigate down to a path with a wall running across.

By this time the group had basics down to a T. Rory decided to throw something new into the mix, pacing. Getting us all to walk and count our paces to what we thought 100meters was. My first guess was 60 paces, but I had over shot by 15ish meters. After some fine tuning I had gotten it to 54 paces. Some of the shorter members were 70 odd paces. We tried to pace out 400meters on the map which was exactly 400meters. I came closest to the target (does this make me the best? I certainly think so) but we were all within 20ish meters, pretty good going for our first try.

Moel Siabod

Moel Siabod

The last task was to pace and navigate to a high area on the map. This involved walking through thick and overgrown vegetation plus a few streams, by this point the pacing had been thrown out the window. But our navigation skills came through and we found the final objective. This signalled the most important part of the day… the Pub!

A big thank you to Rory Shaw from www.snowdoniamountaineering.com for putting up with our club for a second year on the trot!

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One Comment

  1. Hi Lee, Dan, I just got around to browsing the website. Good story, keep em coming cheers , Pete

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