Navigation Course at Plas y Brenin

27-28th September 2014 Navigation Course at Plas y Brenin, Snowdonia

Trip Organiser: Maggie

Course Attendees: Alan, Claire, Mark F, Marion, Andy M, Alistair, Angela, Belinda, Jilly, Pam, Maggie

Walkers: Simon P, Barry

This was NMC’s second course at Plas y Brenin and once again we were not disappointed! This time we stayed at Bryn Engan Bunkhouse, about a 5 minute walk from the Centre.

On Saturday we split into two groups: Alan, Claire, Mark, Marion, Pam and Alistair with Adam their instructor, the ‘slightly’ more advanced group or A Team and Belinda, Jilly, Andy M, Maggie and Angela with Carl in the B Team. We set off from the Centre in two separate groups and headed into the woods where we were challenged to look for handrails e.g. walls (however they were no longer visible) and a hill that was not even marked! We then headed up towards Crimpiau, learning how to work out our individual pace for 100m, measured distances taking into account height ascent and practised taking a magnetic bearing. However, those in the B team needed a lot of patience and reinforcement, realising that finding North on the map helps!! After a full day in the hills we headed back to the Centre for tea and cakes which were most welcome (though we found out that we weren’t meant to have them).

Barry and Simon went up Tryfan and then onto the Glyders with Barry climbing up Bristly Ridge, before walking back along the ridge to the bunkhouse.

On Saturday evening we had hoped to do night navigation but this wasn’t possible (sorry Alistair) so we headed to the Centre for a slide show, then back for a Quiz on our day compiled by Angela (thank you!) and of course the traditional Red Handed game courtesy of Alan.

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We woke to some cloud on Sunday which pleased Claire as she was desperately hoping for cloudy conditions to practise our navigation skills. Unfortunately for her it turned out to be a lovely day ending in hot sunshine! We all headed up Moel Siabod but not on the main footpaths, this gave us a good opportunity to practise what we had learnt the day before and develop our micro navigation skills. Whilst the A team was concentrating very hard on their bearings, pacing and timing it was observed that there was far too much hilarity going on in the B team and there was much sympathy for their poor instructor.

Barry and Simon headed to Pen-y-pass to do the Snowdon Horseshoe. They went up via Grib Goch, a great experience, a little scary at times but well worth it. Managing a sneaky latte in the cafe on top of Snowdon, a little bit if a novelty but were quick to get away from the tourists on top. Usual scenario of people climbing up Snowdon with high heels on. The walk down was really good with clear views for miles around.

What a great weekend and to be recommended to anyone heading out into the hills! We learnt that a compass isn’t just a compass and many of us rushed to the shops after day 1 to upgrade to a much better model.

So we now need to get out and practise before we all forget what we have learnt.

Highlights: ‘excellent weather, great company and better appreciation of how to map read and navigate’.

Classic/fun comments: ‘The look of absolute despair on Carl’s face when bombarded again and again with questions and requests for help. I have not laughed to tears like that in ages. Great fun!’


Written By: Maggie Russell

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