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Navigation stations

Get your bearings as we explore some nifty new navigation methods.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Access to a computer
  • Access to the internet
  • 1:25000 OS maps
  • Compasses

Before you begin

  • This is a ‘bases’ activity, so make sure you have enough helpers coming along to run your bases in the session and some knowledgeable navigators among them to help explain the tricky bits.
  • So that everyone’s familiar with the method, run the Six-figure bingo activity to teach everyone how to find a six-figure grid reference. You could run this before or after this activity.
  • Set up enough tables and chairs for at least three groups. Put compasses and maps on each table.

Learn the basics

  1. Everyone should split into at least three groups and sit at a table. Explain that each group will be doing an activity at each table, with groups rotating between them throughout the session.
  2. Everyone should start by passing the compass on their table between one another and examining it. Point out the key features and explain what they do.
  1. Start looking at bearings. Explain how to find them and why compasses point magnetic north. Everyone needs to understand this, so have a helper work with each group to talk through bearings before starting work on the bases.
  2. Once this is clear and everyone’s ready, run the bases. You could use the bases we’ve designed below.


Advanced navigation skills like finding bearings are used in hiking and expeditions to help people find their way around. Being able to understand techniques such as deviation and triangulation allows you to stay in control if something goes wrong when out in the wild. Were there any techniques in this activity that you already knew about, or were they new to you? How did you develop your existing skills in this activity?

If you didn’t know any of these skills, how did this activity help you to pick them up? Was it easier to work in groups on this? Imagine you’re out on a hike and get separated from your group. Why is it important that more than one of you knows these navigation methods?


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.