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Only a mile to go

Put all your navigation skills to the test by planning a 20 kilometre route to walk with your friends.

You will need

  • Pens or pencils
  • A4 paper
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • String
  • Paperclips
  • 1:25000 OS map, multiple of the same area
  • Compasses
  • Roamer (optional)
Route plan cards
PDF – 95.4KB

Before you begin

  • This activity requires groups to use bearings. Consider completing the Navigation stations activity first to boost everyone’s knowledge of navigation skills and compass techniques.
  • Have everyone complete some research on navigation in the Hill and Moorland Leader Award to bring along with them to this session.
  • Print out three sets of route plan cards for each group.
  • Set out tables and chairs for each group, with at least one compass, map, writing materials, paper, route cards and roamers (if you’re using them) on each table.
  • Decide upon a start and finish point for a 20km hike. These can be the same location or different locations, but should be big and obvious places like car-parks or building forecourts.

Background information

  1. Explain to everyone that they’ll be planning and writing down the route for a 20km hike with their group. Each route should be divided down into a minimum of six legs, though they’ll probably need more if they’re new to navigation. Split everyone into groups of between four and seven and have them sit at a table.
  2. Discuss the Hill and Moorland Award and have the groups share what they found out from their research among themselves. Encourage everyone to think about how the skills involved in the Award, as well as the guidance provided, might help plan a 20km hike.
  3. Move the discussion on to route cards. Each group should have three route cards on their table. Ask why they think route cards exist and how they’re used by hikers and navigators. Encourage them to think about safety considerations, how they could be used to help navigate and why this information should be written down first and then brought along on the hike.
  4. Have everyone examine their route cards. Go through each section of the card with them.

It’s planning time

  1. Have everyone open their maps and find the start and finish points decided earlier. Explain that their route needs to include these points, run for 20km in any direction and should be agreed upon by everybody before starting the route card.
  1. Fill in the route cards for the 20km hike. Have leaders or helpers go around to help, particularly with the first line. Make sure everyone understands what they’re doing and what information needs to be included.
  2. Everyone should need an hour to complete their routes. Each leg of the route will need clear instructions on the route card. To make sure everyone plays their part, groups could divide responsibility for each leg to different people.
  3. When the routes are ready and everyone’s satisfied with them, collect the route cards. Paperclip each group’s route cards together.

What next?

  1. Discuss what else the groups would have to do before setting off on their hikes. This should include:
    • equipment
    • safety information
    • clothing
    • group sizes
    • age-range ratios
    • what to do in an emergency
    • the InTouch system
    • risk assessments
  1. Run through some emergency scenarios with everybody and see how the group would respond. This should include:
    • a first aid incident
    • losing the map or route card
    • getting lost
    • getting caught in extreme weather
  1. Give each group A4 paper and writing materials. Everyone should draw a table with three columns. Write the titles ‘equipment’, ‘clothing’ and ‘safety stuff’ at the top of each column. Now, give each group 10 minutes to fill in each column with everything they think they’ll need for the hike.
  1.  Go around the groups and have a person read out something from one of their columns. Keep doing this until each group has read out all of their ideas. Groups should add things they forgot to their own lists.


Going on a hike with your friends takes a lot of planning and preparation to make sure you know where you’re going and what to do in an emergency. Working as a team in this activity was very important. How did you work together to make sure everybody got involved in the planning process? What did you do to make sure all your teammates were on the same page and understood what was needed to navigate your planned route?

Learning key skills such as navigation and route planning can help you in the future. In what scenarios might it come in handy? Imagine you’re driving somewhere and take a wrong turn, or exploring in a different country that you’re unfamiliar with. Route planning helps you understand how to plan everything down to the smallest details, so that you can be confident that you know where you’re going.


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.

Snow and ice

Be careful when activities involve snow and ice. Check surfaces and reduce the risk of slipping where possible. Have appropriate supervision for this activity.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

Hiking and walking

Follow the guidance for activities in Terrain Zero, or the guidance from the adventure page.


Provide some light, so the environment isn’t completely dark. Everyone must be able to see others and move around the area safely.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.

Road safety

Manage groups carefully when near or on roads. Consider adult supervision and additional equipment (such as lights and high visibility clothing) in your risk assessment.