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navigation

My favourite compass

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My favourite compass

This week has been all about the compass, running a Silver National Navigation Award course. My first ever compass was given to me by my Granda when I was probably 10 years old, I’m not 100% sure if it belonged to him or his dad but know he used it in the war. It has our surname scratched onto the brass case, I guess there must have been quite a few of these instruments issued out to the soldiers. 

My favourite compass

My favourite compass

Today the compass has moved on but the principles are still the same, there’s a needle that points to north, or south if you’re down under. That simple concept of aligning your map with the needle is the fundamental concept of navigation, and most of the time you can align your map without it, just looking at the ground features around you. Once you’ve done that, you should be able to walk off in the required direction. Mappa Mundi, the “cloth of the world” now just a map, was not always drawn with north at the top, east was once at the top of the map. Back then, circa 700 years ago, the navigator knew that map orientation was essential, in some ways it’s a shame our maps today have north at the top...and most of the text on the map is written as it is, drawing the reader to hold the map in a certain way. The map should be held pointing in the direction you’re traveling in, if you can do that, you’ve set your map and your compass needle should agree with you.

Checking the map

Checking the map

As time moves on, maps and compass will change but it’s a basic concept that will remain forever. Will they be replaced by technology? GPS is advancing too but a simple compass and a map is more reliable than any gadget currently and costs much less. If you look after them you can hand them down battery free to your grandchildren, like my Granda Hamish.

Taking in the views

Taking in the views

If you’d like some navigation tuition get in touch.

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February Update

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February Update

Hello all,
As the “beast from the east” blasts through I thought I’d spend a bit of time in my office this week catching up on the paperwork and preparing for a busy season ahead! Hopefully the snow will not impact you too much, if you don’t want it too! This winter continues to deliver with some record temperatures and snow fall. Unfortunately, it’s also been a very busy period for our Mountain Rescue Teams, huge thanks to these volunteers for looking after safety on the mountains, I’ll be hosting another charity event in August for Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team and any training I do in Braemar percentage of fees will go to the Braemar team. Stay safe, stay informed and get trained.

I was absolutely delighted to be in the latest issue of Scottish Mountaineer magazine and to be included on their website. You can read their article via my earlier blog here. My journey from back injury to Mountain Leader will hopefully help inspire some to believe they can get out and do more, thanks to Neil and the Mountaineering Scotland team for publishing the article.

We had a great mid term break down in Loch Tay, weather was good so we had some nice fresh walks up Glen Lyon and also up toward Meall nan Tarmachan for a bit of sledging! I also took the family to see the Fortingall yew, the oldest living thing in Europe, right here in Scotland, some 5000-year-old. Our time on earth seems a little insignificant next to that tree.

Meall nan Tarmachan

Meall nan Tarmachan

Fortingall Yew

Fortingall Yew

February has also seen me finalise my procedures and processes that I will submit to the HSE for my Adventure Activities Licence. This is the next stage for Hillgoers and will allow us to take groups of youngsters out on expeditions and walks, as we aim to become a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Provider by the early summer.  These activities will run aside the current activities and I’m delighted to be building my team for this with some great people.

The season ahead is looking quite busy already but there are still some places left on the planned walks and we have spaces for bespoke walks or corporate events. There is some availability on our hill skills and navigation award courses too. I have put in some new events for this as we try and cater for all – “Hill Skills with dogs” and “Navigation Awards during school hours” for busy parents! I’ll keep trying different ways to run the courses, if you have any suggestions I’d be happy to have them!

Keep an eye on my website, social media, etc for new events and please get in touch if you have any questions.

Take care in the snow.
Garry.
garry@hillgoers.com

Luna preparing for Mountain Leader exam!

Luna preparing for Mountain Leader exam!

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Summer Highlights!

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Summer Highlights!

Summer highlights!

As unpredictable summer in Scotland can be, I've been very fortunate not to have postponed any of my planned walks. Only once did I have to change my route plans due to weather and that was with a Bronze DofE group near Rynie! A small burn crossing turned into a fast-flowing river! This of course was an ideal intervention to teach hazards and dynamic risk assessments. The weather is never a barrier though and mostly, for me anyway, it's been a good summer. 

You shall not pass

You shall not pass

I've had a few DofE groups throughout the summer, volunteering for Banchory, also freelancing for other providers. There's always a story, a drama, a moan and a groan but followed by a sense of achievement as they finish their expedition. These expeditions they'll remember forever, locked in the memory for the good and the bad, mostly for the good. If led correctly the experience will nurture a love and respect for the outdoors. This combined with the other sections of DofE, the participants learn life skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Dreich DofE..

Dreich DofE..

Apart from my own groups qualification, my favourite DofE trip this year was a week over in Arran supervising a gold team. I’d not been to Arran for many years and forgot how stunning it was. Dramatic landscapes and beautiful coastal walks. Walking through Glen Sannox, over to Glen Rosa gives you a intricate view of the ridge walks on the island. I’ll have to go back sometime for a proper look over these.

Glen Rosa

Glen Rosa

I’ve continued to run mini introductory hill skills at the Bennachie Visitor Centre and will continue these next year. These give a wee introduction to map reading and navigation. The follow up from this course would be the National Navigation Award Scheme courses, I’ll be running more of these in the next few months too. James in the picture attended a Bennachie session and also achieved the Bronze NNAS award, I’ve no doubt he’ll continue to progress through the stages and soon be better than me!

James, future Mountain Leader!

James, future Mountain Leader!

Map setting below Mither Tap

Map setting below Mither Tap

I’ve also been fortunate to guide some lovely clients (now friends) over the hills this year. The Turriff and District Round Table team continued their quest to find Munro his home. These guys did an excellent job of walking up 17 Munros for local charities, finishing on Ben Nevis last weekend where Munro found his dad… I had great fun walking with those gents. Well done to them!

Turriff Team

Turriff Team

Another satisfying trip to Glencoe with some repeat clients too.

Buachaille Etive Mor

Buachaille Etive Mor

Painting the Stuic just below Lochnagar summit.

Watercolour time.

Watercolour time.

As a family we had some relax time over the school holidays in between my walk, some walking involved obviously… A lovely week with our extended family in Portugal then back to the cooler isle of Harris and Lewis. We also decided to take the leap and get a pooch, Luna will be joining me on the hills next year!

Paddling in Portugal

Paddling in Portugal

Beautiful Harris

Beautiful Harris

Hillgoers latest team member - Luna!

Hillgoers latest team member - Luna!

In between clients I've be strolling over the Cairngorms looking for flora and breathtaking views. My wild camp by Loch Etchachan a couple of months ago under the stars, looking north for the aurora, was a special evening. Watching the sun dip her last rays over Beinn Mheadhoin and waking up to the vibrant colours that early morning brings, has to be seen.

Loch A'an

Loch A'an

As we approach winter please look out for some winter skills training if you intend venturing to the hills in the snow, I can't wait! 

Hillgoers can offer guided winter walks when the snow arrives, low level walks also available.

Lochnagar in winter

Lochnagar in winter

Contact us for any bespoke walks or training :)

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