12th October 2014: Navigation training



On Sunday October 12th, about half a dozen of us did basic navigation training at Richmond Park. The day went very well, once I had got over getting completely lost trying to find the toilets at Richmond station, and when I did stumble into them – just by pure chance after meeting Polly – to find they were closed.

We learnt the basics of map reading, and in particular what the symbols mean on an OS map and the significance of contour lines. The advantage of Richmond Park is much of it is quite hilly, and you can relate the terrain to the contours.

Now, I have never doubted that Red Rope supporters are familiar with V.I. Lenin’s famous book ‘Materialism and Empirio – Criticism’. In this work, Vladimir Ilyich points out that material existence is primary, and ideas, consciousness, are only secondary derivations from the primary. So in the same way an OS map is not the real thing. The real thing is actually the land, i.e. the topography. The map is a reflection of that.

However, too many Red Ropers take a revisionist path and erroneously think their OS map is the highest product of human existence. Take any famous landmark – say for example, Lord Herefords Knob in South Wales, where many of us climbed during the weekend of the Red Rope AGM. The Knob, and it’s big – could be staring you in the face, but many walkers would say “it’s not shown on the map. So the Knob can’t be here. We must be in the wrong place. This is getting ridiculous”.

So these (metaphorical) walkers ignore the presence of the Knob looming out of the ground straight in front of them. The lesson learnt is take a look around at the topography – first – and then look at the map. If it is there on the ground but not on the map, then it is the map that is out of date, not the land. I think that is the key point to remember.

We also did compass bearing training in the afternoon, although I still need much practice, but it was a great day out. Thanks to Nicola who helped organise it and our marvellous and completely unflappable trainer Kat who is part of a workers-run outdoor skills cooperative in North Wales, although she is from the Richmond area originally. Everything we learnt on the day was thanks to her.

Personally, I would strongly recommend this navigation course. It gets the thumbs up from me.
Finally, if walking or hiking around Richmond Park on a Sunday afternoon – a very ‘English’ pursuit -do try and avoid selfish male joggers sporting funny hats as well as the rutting Park deer, as both can be equally unpredictable.


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