contains some useful information and good
practices for use in the Scottish Mountains.
year, tourists, walkers and climbers get into
trouble in the Scottish Hills due to errors of
navigation. If you intend to go into the
Scottish hills even low ones, it is essential
that you plan the walk using appropriate maps of
the area. Harveys produce maps of many popular
walking areas that are detailed, easy to read
and also tough and waterproof.
roughly how long the walk you have selected
should take - this will depend on the fitness of
the weakest member of your party and a variety
of other factors including:
Steepness of the Ground - you may have
to zig zag your route for comfort
Terrain - walking is often harder than
the map would suggest due to boulders, scree
or boggy vegetated ground
Weather - bad weather and poor
visibility can dramatically affect estimated
Streams - these can quickly become
impassable in heavy rain
If you are
inexperienced and/or you do not know the area,
seek local advice about the route.
instruction and learn how to use a map and your
compass, starting in easy situations in good
weather and practising until you are competent
in poor weather.
compass with a long baseplate that is easy to
read and well damped. Silva UK produce good
compasses, as well as a range of other
navigational aids. Before leaving your base you
may want to work out and keep a note of crucial
bearings that you may require on the walk.
should plan an alternative route in case
conditions deteriorate or become worse than
expected. Do not feel obliged to carry on
-remember the safest option is to turn back
leave a note of your intended and alternative
routes with a responsible person, make sure you
contact them on your return.
TIP 1 - TIMING: To estimate how long your
route will take, calculate the time by using 4
kph (for a party of reasonably fit adults) plus
1 minute per 10 metres height gain. Add another
10 minutes per hour for stops.
are on the hills in good visibility, even when
on paths, pay close attention to the map and
make sure you are where you think you are and
are going in the right direction. Do not wait
until you are unsure of your position before you
use your map and compass - it could be too late!
If mist or
cloud begins to close in, note the ground
features, estimate their position and distance
from you and judge how long it will take you to
reach them. Use timing and pacing to help you.
Pay particular attention to the information
given by the contour lines on the map. Use your
compass to maintain your chosen course.
care when leaving summits or where ridges meet.
Gross errors are made here and when descending
slopes in poor visibility - many parties become
split up or lost on this phase of the walk.
become unsure of your position, either retrace
your tracks to the last known position, or,
after working out roughly where you are and if
the terrain is safe, head in the direction that
will take you back on course.
If you get
completely lost, stop and consider which is the
safest direction to get off the hill or
mountain. Use the compass to travel carefully in
that direction, using the map and ground
features together until you recognise features
and relocate yourself.
the most exhilarating mountain days can be had
in winter but it is wise to get some instruction
in the additional skills of using an ice axe and
track of where you are on snow covered terrain
and in poor visibility needs a high degree of
navigational skill and much practice to be
successful. Unfortunately every winter tragedies
are caused by people straying onto dangerous
ground or falling through cornices. When snow is
falling or being blown about and it is cloudy,
"whiteout" conditions develop. When this happens
it is easy to get disorientated and extremely
difficult to navigate.
TIP 2 - PACING: Use a known distance
between two fixed points or walk along a rope of
known length to work out how many double paces
you take over 100 metres Remember to adjust this
as you progress onto steeper more difficult
Points to Remember
the map and plan your route so that you know
where you want to go and how long it will
set the map in relation to the ground
to use the compass before you need to use it
the map and compass to hand during the walk
your position regularly - know where you are
leave a note of your intended route and time
of return with a responsible person,
remember to check in with them
All information on the page has come from
the MCofS web site.
Mountaineering Council of Scotland web site has
lots more useful information and resources,
Below are just a few, click on the links to to
A dozen tips to navigation
First aid kits