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Learn to navigate like a pro

Ever wondered if over-reliance on GPS technology has knocked your navigation skills? With a return to the hills on the not-so-distant horizon, there’s never been a better time to re-familiarise yourself with a map and compass. In our June issue, Alex Roddie ditches the GPS to test his navigational knowledge in the mountains of Torridon – and he’s in for a few surprises.

For some of us it’s the digital side of navigation that’s a closed e-book. If you’re all at sea when it comes to the latest tech, check out Alex’s comprehensive guide on how to get the most out of digital tools for the outdoors. Continuing the navigational theme, Chris Townsend takes an in-depth look at mapping and navigation apps in our gear section.

We’ve got some incredible armchair reads for you as well, including:

  • Terry Abraham’s candid account of the personal struggles he faced while making the third film in his Life of a Mountain – Helvellyn trilogy.
  • The story of how Rebecca Coles conquered a previously unclimbed peak in Nepal – and what it taught her about surviving isolation.
  • A searingly scenic romp along the High Sierra Trail by Carey Davies.

PLUS Chris Townsend reviews ultralight waterproof jackets, The Great Outdoors Book Club discusses The Living Mountain and we’ve got seven fabulous wild walks for your delectation.

How to get a copy

  • Order a single copy of this issue and get it delivered with free postage.
  • Take out an annual subscription and take advantage of our new subscriber offer (£15 for your first 6 issues).
  • Download the digital version to your tablet or smartphone and start reading straight away.
  • Take advantage of our special lockdown offer (3 issues along with the accompanying digital editions for just £9.99 plus free postage, with no ongoing commitment to subscribe.)
  • Buy it in shops across the UK (subject to lockdown opening).

Read more: a peek inside the issue…

Back to Basics: Last autumn, Alex Roddie felt he was getting a little too comfortable with GPS navigation. So he took to the spectacular mountains of Torridon, armed with only a map and compass, to see how he got on…

“We stopped to scrutinise the map. I was convinced we were going the right way, although I urged the others to keep questioning my decisions. In the end we kept going on the course I’d set, towards a small bealach west of Meall Each. After a while we met another path coming in from the right – I’d been out by maybe 100 metres.”

Mountain Battles: For Terry Abraham, making the third film in his Life of a Mountain trilogy – Helvellyn – has involved overcoming some of his hardest personal struggles. But the mountain landscapes of England – and in particular his beloved Lake District – remain an endless source of inspiration.

“As my days of healing became weeks, I fell into a deep depression. It wasn’t a constant presence; instead it visited on certain days. It peaked one winter’s evening when Sue was away with work down south and I was home alone. I was sat by the fire when I suddenly felt an urge to walk out of the door, climb Cross Fell in the snowy dark and never come back.”

Extreme Isolation: To tackle a previously unclimbed peak in Nepal, mountaineer Rebecca Coles spent two weeks cut off from the outside world with her partner. Here she tells the story of the expedition, and reflects on what it taught her.

“Heading into the unknown was exciting on some levels but it also came with anxiety. I’d been to remote areas before, sometimes for up to three months, but it transpired that this trip would be exceptional on many accounts. The only other team member was my partner – both climbing partner and fiancé – and we were about to spend an extended period of time together, not only in the confinements of a two-person tent, but also without any contact with the outside world. What would we learn about each other, and ourselves, from living so closely together?”

The Wild West: Carey Davies heads to the Sierra Nevada to walk one of the great trails of the United States – and discovers a landscape tougher than it looks.

“At the sight of the Hamilton Lakes, my heart melted; smooth shelves of granite sloped into an expanse of emerald water surrounded by domes and spires, including a mighty granite formation known as Angel Wings – exactly the sort of thing you can image Alex Honnold soloing up or John Muir perching pensively on top of with a pipe. It was exactly the kind of place I had imagined arriving at over my years of Sierra dreaming.”

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