Navigation Day Course

We pride ourselves on teaching the specific navigation you need to know and that will work. After decades of teaching micro-navigation, orienteering and natural navigation we have developed a programme that in one day gives you seriously useful skills. It will change the way you view the world. 

What will I learn?

On this one day course, you will learn the essentials of navigation, including:

  • orientating yourself with and without the map
  • map scales, uses and failings
  • how to read and use a map
  • your pacing for 100m over various terrains
  • timing as a means of accurately measuring distance
  • how not to get lost 
  • how to relocate when disorientated and how to stay calm
  • how to tell direction by a compass and the sun (natural navigation)
  • walking set distances on a compass bearing
  • techniques such as aspect of slope, handrails, collecting features
  • contour interpretation and timing ascent and decent
  • route planning and escape routes
  • grid references and getting help

We teach techniques for staying safe and ways to use the natural world to ensure you don’t make mistakes during precision navigation at night and poor visibility. 

Ultimately, by the end of the day you should be able to navigate in challenging conditions in the worst the Scottish weather can throw at you and also understand the choice between speed of movement (to safety) and accuracy of route finding.

Why learn how to navigate?

Learning how to navigate gives you the freedom to explore, to leave the path.

You can head up the mountain when everyone else is coming off, or be on the mountain top when the sun rises.

You’ve got the confidence to move in the dark because you have a map that tells you where the hazards like cliffs are, and can navigate so you don’t fall off!

Mountains have things like old mines, waterfalls, cliffs and all sorts of dangerous, scary stuff. The more you get scared, the more likely you are to get lost and have an injury. It’s also true for when the weather changes, the clouds roll in and suddenly you can’t see where you are.

You have the mountain all to myself when that happens.

Mountains like Ben Nevis and Snowdon, when there are hundreds of people, don’t have the same magic they do when you go up at night and have it to yourself. These are the moments that become lifelong memories, life-changing memories, when you sit on a mountain and see the stars up above you, or you see a’moonbow’ — a rainbow caused by the moon.

When you know how to navigate, you can go wherever you want to go. So if you see something on a hillside, you can go there.  Iron Age hillforts, Stone Age hut circles, Roman houses — they’re all out there waiting for you.

What should I bring?

  • Comfortable, warm layers of clothing that you don’t mind getting muddy or wet

  • Waterproofs

  • Packed lunch

  • Sunscreen if needed

Footwear is up to you and optional. If you have a knife you like to use bring it but all tools and materials are provided.

If you have any mobility or health concerns, please talk with us – we have worked with people of varying abilities and mobility constraints.

What about accommodation?

We are based on Bamff Estate, by Alyth in beautiful Perthshire, blessed with lovely holiday accommodation right onsite.

Bamff luxury yurts

Bamff luxury yurts

Guests can stay on-site in a luxury yurt, cottage or camp using your own tent, while partaking in our courses, so they have a truly immersive experience.

Discover the wild beaver dams, natural regeneration, or track the roe deer and red squirrels at dusk.

At night you are lulled to sleep beneath the stars to the sounds of owls and wind in the trees.

The backdrop to your stay is the picturesque Bamff Castle, owned by the Ramsay family who manage the estate as an organic farm with bio-diversity and eco-tourism.

Bamff castle and eco estate, Perthshire

Bamff eco estate, Alyth, Perthshire

You mustn’t miss the beavers!

Find out more about Staying at Bamff.

What about food?

Food is not included in the courses as we all like different things but it is an integral part of any Five Senses experience: taste is equally important to all other sensations.

Self-catering is available to those staying with us at Bamff, and there are shops, pubs, a bakery and cafes in Alyth, nearby. In season there is lots to forage too. We recommend bringing a extra picnic lunch or dinner to enjoy after your course, or grab a take-away.

Do I need experience of the outdoors?

In a word, no.

Whether we collect plants for firemaking, make fire kits with tools, or walk in the woods, you need no prior experience of the outdoors: it’s all about learning something new.

This may be your first experience of Scotland’s true countryside or you might be a Munro bagger, but Five Senses courses offer something new for everyone. If you have any concerns please ask us. Malcolm will happily adapt a course to meet your needs and mobility.

Will there be other people there?

You will only share a course with strangers if you wish to.

You learn best when you are having fun and for many people being in the outdoors can be stressful, or a discomfort can be a distraction to learning. So, our courses are different: You will be in your own little group or alone and be warm and comfortable. You will also get high quality tuition in a relaxed atmosphere.

Why ‘five senses’?

We don’t just use our eyes and ears to learn the ancient skills or to experience the landscape, we immerse ourself in it and discover through tasting, feeling and smelling too – if you can.

By enlisting all the power of your senses, you learn deeply and gain a profound connection with nature, the history of human fire making and thus your entire world.

This approach makes our courses ideal for those who who have limited abilities, which is all of us.

How to get here?

There is ample car and bike parking, whilst those wishing to use public transport can catch the 57 bus from Perth or Dundee to Alyth. Services are hourly and traverse scenic countryside.

From Alyth you can walk the delightful, wooded Den of Alyth (SSSI) for the 2 1/2 miles to Bamff of you can arrange to be collected at the bus stop.

See the Bamff Estate website for directions.


Location: Bamff Estate near Alyth in Perthshire (PH11 8LF)

Duration: One Day

Time: 10am – 4pm, arrive 09.30 for tea & coffee and introduction

Price: £75 per person (based upon 2 or more persons)

£20 single person supplement (£95)

“Thank you very much for giving us such a fantastic time, so much information, new skills and much food for thought, so, in a way it was an intellectual experience too!”

Claudia S.