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Map and compass reading courses are big business

TWO separate training courses aimed at helping people to make the most of the great outdoors are being launched in the Lake District.

Day courses aimed at honing skills in map and compass reading for beginners and improvers are being offered by Wild Ridge Adventure.

The first course is due to take place on Sunday, January 25, from Grasmere, and further courses will be held throughout the year.

Wild Ridge Adventure founder Graham Uney said: "We recognise that there are huge numbers of visitors and locals in the Lake District who regularly head for the hills, and we would like to offer our specially tailored navigation courses to as many people as possible."

He added: "Learning how to read maps alongside a compass is a fundamental skill that everyone heading for the hills should master.

"Hundreds of people are rescued from our hills every year, and many of these incidents would not happen if people learned these basic skills."

Mr Uney, who completed his first round of Wainwrights' the 214 fells listed in the late Alfred Wainwright's Pictorial Guides in 1992, has also written a guidebook to backpacking in northern England for Milnthorpe-based Cicerone Press.

Meanwhile, Outdoor Training & Leisure Ltd is running training courses in the use of global positioning systems (GPS) and digital maps for walkers.

The business, founded by two Lake District National Park voluntary wardens and based at Sockbridge, Penrith, plans to start the courses next month.

Director Simon Brown said: "Global positioning systems for walkers are handheld devices that can cost as little as £80. They use a series of satellites which, at a basic level, just pinpoint the user's position on the ground, typically within 15 feet.

"With the development of digital maps, routes can be planned visually on-screen and then downloaded into the GPS. The desired route can then be navigated by the GPS as you walk."

The business is running the courses in partnership with the Lake District National Park Authority, Memory-Map, Magellan GPS and George Fisher Ltd of Keswick.

Mr Brown said while a GPS system could be an excellent navigational tool in trained hands, it might put an inexperienced user in danger if used inappropriately.

"OTL has been formed out of a recognition that many walkers have heard about GPS but are not sure what they can and cannot do. Many of those who have a GPS do not really know how to set it up properly or to use its features to the full."

For more information on the GPS course, contact OTL on 01768-885855 or log on to

For details about the Wild Ridge Adventure Courses, ring 01997-414363.

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