Free Navigation Training Resources

Here we have collected together an array of navigation training resources free for you to utilise online at home or to practice with out in the hills. There is a selection of walks to try at all levels, a map reading quiz to have a go at, and a selection of videos which we think might be just right for those of you new to navigating and map reading independently. Enjoy!

  1. Free resources to download – map legends/keys
  2. Short navigation training video tutorials to watch
  3. The Map Reading Quiz
  4. Suggested walks to try
  5. Open Orienteering resources

1. Download these free resources and learn your map symbols

There’s no point guessing what you’re looking at! A good starting point for any map reading course is learning to read a map: and that means learning what all those symbols mean. A good place to start is with the OS Explorer 1:25K maps. As you advance with your navigation skills you’ll learn that the OS 1:50K maps are excellent too, and because many people also use Harvey’s Maps to get them round the hills, we’ve included those also.

2. Watch this selection of short films to get your navigation training off to a good start

Grid References –
Bronze navigation skills

Learning how to take and give grid references is a core skill to learn. Through grid references we are able to effectively communicate where a given location is. It’s dead easy: here’s a lovely explanation, courtesy of Ordnance Survey on how to read grid references from your maps.

Contour lines –
Bronze navigation skills

Understanding and reading contour lines is the key to good navigation at all levels. Contour lines show the relief and the shape of the land around you. Contour lines packed closely together tell you it’s going to be a steep slope, and contours spaced out tell you the hill has a shallow aspect. Lovely video explaining the basics here from OS.

Orientating the map –
Bronze navigation skills

When you are map reading it’s good to hold the map so that it is orientated to the ground. In this way what is aligned in front of you on your map will be exactly what you see on the ground in front of you. In this video courtesy of the Royal Marines you will be shown two methods on how to orientate the map to the ground: firstly using a compass, and secondly with the features of the ground.

Compass bearings –
Silver navigation skills

Compasses can be used for an array of strategies. In poor visibility one use for a compass is to help us navigate across open ground accurately. Here, this video from Mountaineering Ireland demonstrate how to take a bearing from the map, and then how we use that bearing to navigate across open moorland. This is an advanced skill but absolutely vital for anyone looking to explore the wilder places!

3. Test your knowledge with this quiz!

A key part of being able to read a map is understanding the symbols that are presented to you. Two popular maps people use for map reading in the UK are the 1:25K Explorer Maps and the 1:50K Landranger Maps. How well do you know your maps? Give this quiz a try and see how you do!

4. Try navigating these suggested Peak District walks

Here we present for you recommended routes to practice and consolidate your newly-found map and compass skills on, from the basics at Bronze to the advanced stuff at Gold. (Note: the Gold walks include resources for the Peak District, Snowdonia and the Lake District).

5. Try Orienteering

These are free open orienteering resources aimed at anyone who wants to have a go at orienteering. Perfect for getting kids outdoors and exploring this great activity in your local park. (Gradually I hope to add new courses and by all means please feel free to get in touch for requests).

These courses have all been set up virtually – (though you do need to go outside to complete them). You will need to use the free app from Sporteering to collect your points (see below). Enjoy!