Some Basic Navigation Techniques

‘Handrails’ are linear features, which can be identified on the map and in the terrain and used to assist in navigating from one control point to another. These include paths, tracks, fences, powerlines, streams and clear vegetation boundaries, but can also be features such as lines or cliffs, ridges, and valleys or re-entrants.

Aiming Off
When navigating to a control point on a distant linear feature (for example, a boulder in a stream) one may not know which way to turn when reaching the linear feature (the stream) in order to locate the control (at the boulder). ‘Aiming off’ means navigating, or aiming, deliberately to one side of the control feature. For example, by aiming to reach the stream to the right of the boulder, one knows one must turn left along the stream to find the boulder.

Catching or Collecting Features
These are obvious features which lie behind a control. They may be roads, fences, streams, buildings or other features. Reaching the catching feature tells one that one has gone past the control and must turn back towards it.

Attack Points
It is often difficult to navigate directly to a small feature from a long way away, even by using a compass bearing and estimating or pacing out the distance. It is then advisable to identify a more obvious, and more easily located, feature relatively near to the control and navigate to that. That feature then becomes the ‘attack point’ from which one will navigate carefully to the control site.

‘Contouring’ is the following of a contour along a hillside, that is keeping at the same height as one goes. This often enables one to proceed from one control to another by avoiding more arduous, slow and energy-sapping climbing.