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trekking

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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Capturing the Moment – Wildlife of 2017

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Capturing the Moment – Wildlife of 2017

Capturing the moments – wildlife of 2017

As a hillgoer, you soon become familiar with the usual wildlife suspects and where to stumble across them. The Ptarmigan sheltering amongst the rocks, the deer just round the next bend, the dippers following you down a stream and so on. I’ve had a few occasions where I’ll turn a corner to see a perched eagle spot me, take off and soar away before I can take my lens cap off, so frustrating and fantastic at the same time. Capturing the moment for me is mainly luck, not skill, just being in the right place at the right time. I never take a tripod and most of my photos are taken on my phone. Next year I’m planning to take the tripod and have my wee digital camera easily within reach, not tucked away in my bag!

The days of film development are gone for most but I’m definitely developing my camera skills, mainly thanks to a network of superb photographers out there, giving advice and humorous criticism. 2018 will be another year of development and I’ll be taking a larger lens with me too, the extra weight in my bag will hopefully be compensated by some quality wildlife snaps. I’ll just have to reduce weight elsewhere, a new light weight bag perhaps or leave my hipflask at home on those overnight trips….

The photos below are a sample of my wildlife pics from 2017. I’ll be taking more camera clubs out next year, learn from the experts!

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June in the Cairngorms - Highlights

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June in the Cairngorms - Highlights

A selection of photos and highlights from June, my favourite moment watching my talented daughter Emma play fiddle at An Lochan Uaine, the green lochan. It's such a beautiful place and the slow waltz added to the special atmosphere.

Emma at An Lochan Uaine

Emma at An Lochan Uaine

I was fortunate to have a few trips to the hills in June with some lovely clients with a few wanders over the plateau, peering into the corries and lochs.

Loch A'an

Loch A'an

Loch Etchachan

Loch Etchachan

I also had a couple of visits to Ben Macdui, mixed weather on both occasions!

Ben Macdui Summit

Ben Macdui Summit

On our way up Derry Cairngorm

On our way up Derry Cairngorm

Derry Cairngorm

Derry Cairngorm

With a few trips to Lochnagar too....my favourite.

Lochnagar

Lochnagar

Walking down to Loch Muick

Walking down to Loch Muick

And some lovely woodland walks as well :)

My June outings were a mix of planned events and bespoke requests. If you'd like to join me on a walk get in touch, navigation tuition also available on my outings.

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