Trail master­class: what to do when you’re lost

Trail (UK) - - Contents -

Q If I ever find my­self off-route with no idea of where I am, what’s the best way to get my­self un-lost? John Evans, Bas­ingstoke

Paul says At some point we’ve all been a bit lost; we’ve been chat­ting to a friend and lost track of how far we’ve gone, or been look­ing for that path to ap­pear… but it just hasn’t.

Plough­ing on usu­ally isn’t the best ap­proach as that’s just building on un­cer­tainty. We may get lucky, or, more of­ten than not, we get that sink­ing feel­ing as even­tu­ally what­ever we see is just not ty­ing up with the map any more. Time for a re­think.

Tech­nol­ogy

By far the eas­i­est ap­proach is to fire up a smart­phone app like OS Maps or the free OS Lo­cate, read off your grid ref­er­ence and start nav­i­gat­ing again. Or you could use the sat­nav de­vice that has been sit­ting in your ruck­sack along with that emer­gency bar of Ken­dal mint cake from 2003. Sadly, a ‘gotcha’ with this ap­proach could be flat bat­ter­ies. Bear in mind that a smart­phone out in your

hand at close to freez­ing tem­per­a­tures will run flat in two hours us­ing a sat­nav app, and then you have lost your com­mu­ni­ca­tions, too, un­less you have a charger pack with you. So you al­ways need to know a way to re­lo­cate your po­si­tion us­ing a map and com­pass. Quick fixes First step is to stop and have a brew and that Ken­dal mint cake. Think and look around you. Tech­niques like re­sec­tion or tri­an­gu­la­tion are okay, but if you can see a few fea­tures to take bear­ings by, you can prob­a­bly work out where you are. When you are clagged in with driv­ing rain, or it’s at night, you need an al­ter­na­tive ap­proach. Think what your last known po­si­tion (LKP) was? What time were you there? What did you last see? What is the ground do­ing around you now? If you’ve been walk­ing on a bear­ing, con­sider walk­ing on a back bear­ing by turn­ing your com­pass so the white nee­dle is in the north poin­ter and head­ing back the same time and dis­tance from your LKP to find your last fix. If that’s not pos­si­ble, or you weren’t us­ing a com­pass, use the fol­low­ing process in­stead. Elim­i­na­tion & iden­ti­fi­ca­tion

Sit­u­a­tion: imag­ine you’re walk­ing up the path north-west from the lead mine (north­east of Sharp Edge in the maps be­low) and you’ve lost con­cen­tra­tion – then the path. It’s sud­denly be­come less steep. There should have been a junc­tion and a kink in your path, but you are on open moor in clag with no fea­tures whatsover that give a hint as to where you are. You think you’ve been wan­der­ing on for about 10 min­utes...

Fol­low the six steps be­low to get your­self back on track.

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