How NOT to get lost on the hills

Guests who stayed with us recently went out onto the hills to get lost on purpose – and then find their way back safely.

It was the weekend of one of the navigation courses organised by the Fell Runners’ Association which we host each autumn. They have been coming here for more than 25 years, so we must be getting something right!

The runners were given an introduction to map reading and navigation on the fells at this event which was for those new to fell running or wishing to try races requiring navigation skills. There were practical instruction sessions on the fells during Saturday and Sunday, and indoor theory sessions which covered the basic skills. There was also a low-key navigation event so the runners could test their improving skills.

We’re ideally placed to host courses like this, with our cosy dormitories, communal space for indoor skills work, and best of all, our location right in the heart of the fells.

But we also believe very strongly in what the organisers are doing. Navigation plays an important role in keeping you safe. If you can read a map, you’ll be able to use it to identify escape routes should you need to get down off the hills quickly and safely, due to injury or a change in the weather. You’ll be able to locate dangers and obstacles – crags, mines, bogs – and take steps to avoid them.

Strange words of wisdom, perhaps, for the GPS generation, but as leader of the local mountain rescue team, our manager knows better than most how batteries can fail and phone signals disappear.

If the worst comes to the worst, and you or one of your party falls ill or gets injured, you will need to let the emergency services know where you are. Your navigational skills will help; a grid reference is the best way of allowing them to pinpoint your location.

The runners had a wonderful time here. One of the instructors, Mandy Goth, who runs for Todmorden Harriers, said: “The runners loved the hostel. It’s a perfect setting as it is right in the heart of the Lake District with easy access to the fells. The accommodation is perfect for this event and easily housed the 24 students and 6 instructors.”

She added: “The food was excellent: a full breakfast each morning packed lunch and evening meal on the Saturday. And we had access to the kitchen at all times. A great venue, and a good time was had by all.”

One of the participants said: “Everything about this course was pretty much perfect. We were hugely impressed with the instructors and thoroughly enjoyed the company of fellow students. The little edge of competition on Sunday was the icing on the cake. And we even had good weather.”

Even? We ALWAYS have good weather in the Lakes! Don’t we?

Meanwhile, this Saturday (Oct 13) is the annual Langdale Horseshoe fell race organised by our local club, Ambleside AC. This is a tough one, 12.5 miles with over 4,600ft of climbing, and navigational skills are crucial. It’s worth looking at their safety rules about racing on the fells