“What is navigation?” This may seem like a strange question for me to ask at the start of a navigation workshop but the variety of answers convinced me that it was relevant. There is also frequently confusion between navigation and navigating. When we move around our house we are navigating but it has become a subconscious activity, like a computer programme running in the background. If we have been living there for even a short time we do not say to ourselves that to find the bathroom we turn right at the kitchen, go up the stairs and then it is the second door on the left but we may well give this information to a visitor. If we need to find our way around a large building, such as a hospital, we will need to navigate; there may be a map at the entrance and then there will be signposts. We can scale this up to navigating the town where we live and then a city we do not know or driving between cities.
There is also navigating in the air and navigating at sea. So it is obvious that there will be different methods of navigation in different situations. We are all used to maps and signposts of some type and some of us are familiar with using a compass. But for thousands of years some indigenous peoples have used stories and knowledge of landforms to navigate faultlessly; no maps; no signposts. People also use natural means of navigation using the sun, moon and stars and indications from the environment. So again that question “What is navigation?” At its simplest, navigation is getting from where you are to somewhere else.
With that settled we quickly demonstrated that a map, like Magritte’s painting ceci n’est pas une pipe, is merely a representation of the real world.
We emerged into sunshine and headed to the park, orienting the map, using tick features and counting paces on the way. At the park we used an analogue watch to determine direction using the sun. We interpreted contours and took and walked on a bearing. We packed in a lot during three hours and everyone seemed to be keen on doing a more advanced session.
I really enjoyed the afternoon, especially for the hands-on exercises. I consider myself confident in map reading having been walking regularly for thirty years, but learned a lot on Wednesday, which would help me on more difficult terrains than I am used to. Tony's way of teaching made it easy to grasp.
Thanks Richard Ince, Brighton Unemployed Centre.