Certain topics were covered before we spent a night away on our expedition. A lot of time was spent on navigation. Navigation is an important skill, which must be learnt. Otherwise while walking it can be very dangerous as it has been proved recently with people losing their lives due to bad navigating. Navigation is finding your way around an area using tools such as maps and compasses A compass uses the earth’s magnetic field to detect north and south. It is used to take a bearing but mainly during bad visibility as like in the night or in the mist. We were given certain tasks to do with in our lectures to do with navigating with compasses. We were taught to use are compass like this. “To take a compass bearing from the map and follow it on the ground. Place the long edge of the compass along the line of travel, then turn the housing so that the orienting lines are parallel to the grid lines when the compasses has been removed from the map add 4 degrees onto the compass bearing. To find the right direction turn your body and the compass until the needle falls inside the orienting arrow the follow the direction the arrow on the large plastic part of the compass called the direction arrow.” Langmuir, E. (1995).
When reading a compass bearing on a map then transferring it to the ground it has to be aware that if it 10% wrong. Then you could walk the wrong way and get misplaced (lost). Also when using a compass it has to be remembered that any metal instrument e.g. knife, watch or cooking equipment, can effect the direction the arrow swings too due to the magnetic field they give off. Also you have to be careful that metals can be in the soil and rocks. A map is another navigating tool used in mountain leadership. There are many scale which a map comes in but mainly 1:25000 and 1:50000. When reading maps we read where places are via grid references, we read then easterly then northerly. To find places on the map visual aids around us help for example types of trees and lakes.
Pacing can be used to determine how far and how fast the group is walking.
It is an answer to the question how far have I come? “Langmuir, E. (1995). To estimate the distance two things can be done, timing and pacing. Different things can effect the time in which it covers ground for example going downhill you tend to take more smaller steps or how much weight is beings carried but two obvious ones are terrain and the weather conditions. Langmuir, E. (1995)
In preparation for our two day expedition the mountain leadership group went for two day trips to Worlds End and to Trawsfynydd. On the first trip I learnt how to use and read a map also how to use a compass. This was my first time out walking with a group so it got me used to the type of terrain there was, like heather and long grass. The heather was not the easiest thing to walk through.
The second trip was walking and more navigating on the hillside. In the group we worked on the time and distance estimating how long it would take the group to walk a certain distance. We also practiced more navigation skills taking it in turns to navigate the group.
Before the 30th of November we had one more theory lesson, this was about our equipment including tents and the vital things needed to sleep outdoors for one night. Food was also discussed; it was talked about how we should take snakes and food that can be cooked easily. We were also shown how to put up a tent and to use a trangia. This lecture also provided us with an equipment list so we could prepare in advance. The university (which I have indicted on the equipment list) provided some of the kit.
- Tent (provided)
- Rucksack (provided)
- Walking boots
- Change of clothes
- Karrimat and a sleeping bag
- Trangia and fuel (provided)
Sharing the equipment with my partner (tent, trang, and fuel) made my bag light and with the many straps it was comfortable on my back. We also shared the map of Snowdonia (1:50,000) and compass.
Weather charts were never discussed with our groups. The weather was not on our side when we got to our destination it was starting to drizzle and before long it was raining. We arrived at a hotel car park in Betsy Cowed were we met up with Neil our qualified leader. At various times we all took control of the group and lead and navigated them to a point.
Within our first day we stopped for a short break, I ate my pack lunch, which was pre made toasted sandwiches, and I had a hot cup of tea in my flask, but being careful not to leave any rubbish behind. Walking over rocky terrain we managed to miss a turning so we doubled back on our selves and walked up a hillside.
Then whilst crossing many small streams a few people managed to fall over but no one was hurt showing that the conditions were not perfect. Then after four hours walking we decided to find a site to pitch our tents as it was starting to get dark. The sit was on a hillside by a small lake, the ground was not exactly flat.
When setting up the tent Hannah and I had some trouble as we only had three long poles, so while trying to sort that out, our inner tent got very wet inside. It was about 4 o’clock when everything was set up, I changed into some dry clothes and had a sleep for an hour. About 6 o’clock Hannah and me decided to try and cook with our trangia. But the wind was too strong and the flames nearly set the tent flap on fire. We cooked some sausages and ate some mars bars to satisfy our hunger. Through the night I was kept awake by the howling wind and the pouring rain, where we had camped, there was a stream by the side of us and that also kept me awake. When I did fall asleep the rain and wind had stopped. In the morning the ground was soaking wet and we where ready to go back home. So packing did not take very long. When packed the clouds had changed from a grey color to a white color. The group decided (voted) that we would retrace our steps and not to go to the summit. On going back hazel took control but when hazel took a different route everyone was confused, and that was due to a lack of communication. Then again ten minutes later we nearly missed the route because no one was checking. But we all came back and got on the right route.
Over all I enjoyed the experience of the course and of sleeping in the middle of no where. I also learnt some things like how to use a compass and pacing. If the weather had been more suitable more people would have gone on the night walk and the second day we would have walked to the summit.
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