Monday, 29 September 2014

Instructor on the FRA Navigation Course, Elterwater

I was delighted to be asked onto the instructor crew for the FRA Navigation Course in Elterwater, perhaps the ultimate praise anyone could give me about my skills. A special thanks to Chris Knox, the organiser, for inviting me, along with Margaret and Jenny for their super organising of everyone, and Ian Winterburn for putting me in touch with Chris.

The weekend is made up of indoor map and compass instruction on the Friday night, an early short pre-breakfast run on Saturday, a solid 4-5 hours on the hill having practical nav instruction and testing skills along the way. On Saturday afternoon the attendees are given a new map and sent off on an orienteering style course with 10 check points with instructors are dotted around ready to give a hand if necessary.  The evening is a paired night navigation exercise and then Sunday starts with a de-brief of the night nav, a talk about the FRA and then onto the hill for a 10k mountain marathon style solo event.

Having spent no time on the hill around Elterwater I decided to head up early on Friday and wander about with a map and compass to familiarise myself with it. The weather was ideal for a recce; blue skies, warm, brilliant sunshine and little wind. The map used on the course is a 1:10000 scale, one I'm not familiar with on the hill. I spent about 4 hours wandering around, reading contours, finding features (knolls seemed to feature quite a lot!) the attendees would be searching out. The level of detail on this scale map is amazing and really intricate for micro-nav.

Looking down onto Chapel Stile
Herdy sheep and the amazing view
Silver How
Lunch spot for me on Friday
Pre-breakfast run briefing from Ian Winterburn
and leaving the hostel on the pre-breakfast run
Paths were often very hidden by the bracken
Navigating a short leg between the many knolls
Route choices being discussed
Marshy areas were used as handrails
Solo nav event through the woods

Check point 3 on the mountain marathon style 10k
event. Sorry to anyone who got wet feet, at least
the dibber wasn't in the middle of the tarn!
The weekend was so enjoyable for me as an instructor, attendees were really keen to learn and took on board all the instruction really well. With any nav course there can be an overload of information, but clearly a good chunk of it sunk in as everyone completed all the mini-events in great time. A very special thank you to Elterwater Hostel, a brilliant base with great food and facilities and super friendly staff.

The next FRA course is in March, and I'm pleased to say that I'll be there. If you're thinking about doing this course stop thinking and get booked on. It's wonderfully social, you'll learn lots and spend time with other runners who might be just as nervous as you about nav, but you'll leave confident and with new friends.

If you can't wait that long and want to have some nav instruction then get in touch - I'm available for one-to-one or small group tuition in the Peak District, Snowdonia or the Lake District. As well as leading guided fell runs and taking runners out on race recces, I've personally raced mini-mountain marathons and a few orienteering events. My nav courses are tailored to what you want and to compliment the level of knowledge and experience you come with.

No comments:

Post a Comment