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navigation techniques for off-road runners
Trail Running

Navigation Techniques for Off-Road Runners

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  • £1.80 per book to the UK.
  • £3.42 per book to Ireland and Europe.
  • £4.62 per book to the rest of the World.

About the Guide

A 176 page A5 black and white paperback book explaining the skills and techniques required to navigate yourself from one point to another. The book has been written from the perspective of the runner and in particular for those runners who use navigation competitively within trail running, fell and hill running and competing in such events as the OMM, Saunders, Lowe Alpine, Highlander and Rab mountain marathons.

Written in an easy to understand manner the book begins with the basic skills that the beginner to navigation would require such as the nature of maps, using handrails and taking a bearing. It then moves through the various techniques necessary to be a more experienced and competent navigator such as rough and fine navigation and route choice.

With off-road running the ability of knowing where you are going is a fundamental skill. Unfortunately for many runners the secrets of navigation are akin to the secrets of the dark arts of black magic. Specifically with the runner in mind, this book presents in an easy to understand manner all the skills and techniques that are required for the beginner through to the advanced user. 'Navigation for Off-Road Runners' will give you the confidence to go further.


  1. Introduction
  2. What Do We Mean By Navigation
  3. Who Uses Navigation and Why
    Checkpoints and Controls
  4. Access
  5. Tools
    Red Pen
    Pacing Scale
    Map Measurer
    Mapping Software
  6. Map Reading
    Types of Map
    Anatomy of a Map
    Map Scale
    Grid Lines
    Contour Lines
    Concave and Convex Slopes
    Line Features
    Contour Features
    Point Features
    Symbols on Maps
    Other Items Shown on Maps
    Magnetic Variation
    The Importance of Trig Points
    The Problem with Maps
  7. Fundamental Skills
    Understanding Grid Numbers
    Plotting a Grid Reference onto a Map
    Setting the Map
    Taking a Bearing
    Keeping on Course
    Taking a Back-bearing
    Thumbing the Map
    Using Features to Monitor Progress
    Reading the Map While Running
    Memorising the Map
  8. Advanced Skills
    Rough and Fine Navigation
    Attack Points
    Estimating Slope Angle
    Estimating Distance Using Pacing
    Estimating Distance Using Time
    Estimating Distance by Eye
    Which Technique to Use for Estimating
  9. Techniques
    Handrail Technique
    Catching Features
    Running on the Needle
    Steve’s string
    Bob’s law
    Stu’s law
    Using the other senses
  10. Route choice
    The Basic Route Choice Decisions
    Factors That Influence Decision Making
    Foreshortening Effect
    Recognising Ground and Terrain Types and How They Affect Route Decisions
    Breaking a Leg Down into Sections
    Gauging Stream Widths
    The Effects of Weather on Route Choice
  11. Controls
  12. Navigating in Darkness and Poor Visibility
  13. Other Problems for Navigation
  14. Training and Exercises
    Route Notes
  15. Summary

The Walks

Customer Reviews

What do our customers think about this guide?

The Fellrunner Magazine October 2008

A book entitled ‘Navigation for Off-Road Runners’ recently came into my possession and after reading it I thought it would be worth reviewing for the benefit of others. The authors are probably known to many in the fell running world, especially those that have raced in the North East: Keven Shevels and Stuart Ferguson certainly have the right credentials for writing on this topic as they organise navigation training events and it is from these events that the Trailguides™ series of publications, of which this is the latest, was born.

I believe this is the lengthiest tome in that series consisting of 168 pages and 15 chapters. Topics in this book include map reading whilst running, contouring, and night navigation, amongst numerous other navigational skills. Each section is usefully annotated as either basic, intermediate or advanced level.

The book also includes a few introductory chapters of general interest about off-road running. Some of the material may seem like stating the obvious but you must remember that it is aimed at those with a wide range of abilities from novice to expert. I am sure that even the most experienced navigators will learn something from this book. For example, useful tips include using your thumb to track your progress on the map as you run, and navigating to points on a slope from above not from below.

Do I have any criticisms? Well, the feel of the book is a bit ‘home-made’ as evidenced by the reproduction of photos and some of the diagrams. To me this adds a certain charm but I suspect it won’t be to everyone’s taste. As regards the content, I can’t find fault but I am still learning the skill of navigation myself. Is it good value? Well, what does £13 buy you these days: A cheap compass? Two cinema tickets? A round of beers? I think it is excellent value and an ideal present for any fell runner or pursuer of outdoor activities.

Declaration of interest: I count both of the authors amongst my fell running friends but I have no financial interest in this or any related publication.

Newsletter of the Welsh Fellrunners Association April 2008

Both of the authors have been involved in outdoor activities for many years, learning their navigational skills at an early age. They have both competed in events ranging from long distance fell and mountain running, to orienteering, to mountain marathons, many of these events requiring a high degree of navigational skills.

This training guide is one of a series produced in collaboration with the Run Off-Road Organisation. The series is designed to promote the sport of off-road running and to encourage participants to improve and develop their abilities and skills.

For those runners wishing to add an extra dimension to their running, by just exploring more of the open countryside, or perhaps graduating to competing in mountain marathons, being able to confidently find your way around by reading a map is a fundamental requirement, particularly in bad weather. In this book Stuart and Keven cover in considerable depth, the numerous elements of navigation, from describing the individual parts of a standard compass and their purpose progressing through to the more advance skills and techniques of fine navigation.

The descriptive text is supported by easy to understand diagrams together with photographs, making it ideal for both the beginner and more advanced user. I would suggest that for those members who have recently attended one of our Navigation Courses, this book would be particularly useful as a backup to the skills they have already attained

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