Cicerone – Navigating with a GPS

Front Cover

I’ve been navigating since I was 12 when I joined Air Cadets. This was before GPS really kicked off, and paper map and compass was the only tool you were given on a long hike and if you wanted to get supplies you made sure you were at the correct coordinates on time. GPS then came along and I got lazy. Especially now with products like Viewranger and JuicePackAir I’m ready to navigate all the time i’ve go my iPhone to hand.


After getting involved in lowland search & rescue I found it was time to refresh those old cadet skills and I booked a place on a NNAS bronze course. In the mean time I came across this book on a stand at the Outdoor show in London.
Pete Hawkins, the author, is a professional Navigation instructor who runs the Silva Navigation School in the Peak District, so he knows his way around the subject.
A typical picture showing clear GPS screen

The book starts with a refresh of how GPS works, contours, bearings and compass work. The contour section goes to real efforts to help those who may never have come across them before using 3D mapping to demonstrate. The book then goes into great details on the use of GPS to compliment map reading.

A very brief extract shows how Pete uses simple language and explanations to teach the new user, as well as reinforce any training you may have had:

GPSs are little computers, and there are occasions when they can fail. Chapter 6 looks at the steps you need to consider should this happen, whether you have to reboot the unit, replace the batteries or resort to traditional navigation skills (the latter are covered in Chapter 3, which also looks at how your GPS can be used to replicate these methods).

The final two chapters introduce digital mapping and look at how these can be used to enhance your developing GPS skills, and how to keep these new-found skills honed.

This is not a ‘quick-read-and-become-an-expert’ book. Take your time to try the exercises practically and develop your skills and you’ll emerge a confident and effective GPS navigator.

First things first: let’s get to grips with what your GPS is telling you.

Adding to the value of the £7.99 pocketbook is a useful plastic map tool in the back sleeve with scale, compass rose, romers and a basic aide memoir. 

SUMMARY: Overall the book is a great buy for people looking to refresh rusty skills or for those with a GPS who want to work on their less battery dependent techniques. The small tool adds value and the waterproof cover means it’s slightly more practical to take out on the trail and practice.
 Price: £7.99
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