Palpable, if understandable, reluctance greeted the news that the current cohort of Gold Duke of Edinburgh participants would be heading out onto Farley Heath for a night navigation exercise. The idea behind this was that night time navigation is one of the few ways possible to simulate the low visibility conditions likely to be encountered in the mountains of Wales and the Lake District where our practice and assessed expeditions are soon to be held.
Anyway, everyone turned up on a chilly Saturday evening, expressed gratitude that the sleet and drizzle had abated, boarded the minibuses and headed up to Farley Green. After a few warm up legs, some revision of pace counting, the use of a Romer and a refresher on bearings, we fortified ourselves with fish and chips and then headed off in tent groups round a four kilometre orienteering-style course which had been set up earlier that afternoon. Pairs of head torches criss-crossed the open heathland, like some strange nocturnal clip from a David Attenborough documentary, and muffled pleas for assistance passed from track to track.
Everyone found a good number of the possible check points and more importantly managed to get back to the car park by the appointed “bogey time” of nine o’clock. Particular mention must be made of Diamanda Vickers and Alice Simmonds for finding the most points.
Thanks as ever go to Miss Linda Baily, Mrs Gemma Bukowska and Mrs Andrea Young for helping to run the event.
Dr Simon Young