I am Kathryn Blackie-Taylor. I have lived on and around Dartmoor for the last 25 years. I originally moved to this area as a keen climber who had never really taken much notice of walking other than to get to climbing crags. I found I soon grew to love the wildness of the moor and wanted to explore every part of it. I also learnt how easy it is to make navigational errors and for walks to take much longer than planned, be less enjoyable than hoped for, and perhaps lead me in to unintended danger. I generally realised that I needed to learn to navigate and to navigate well.

I discovered that learning to navigate gave me the freedom to go where I wanted on the moor and gave me a reason to visit parts of the moor which I might not have had cause to go to. The tors are obvious places to head to but once I learnt to appreciate the fine detail on an Ordnance Survey map I found myself wanting to explore unusual geological features or archeological sites, known only by the smallest of symbols on the map. It is that freedom and motivation to explore which I now seek to pass on to others through my navigation training.

My use of navigation has not always been just a leisure pursuit. For 12 years I was an active callout team member with Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (Tavistock). On a callout navigation is required for search teams to ensure that a search sector is accurately and effectively searched and is also needed to get kit to or from a casualty or to transport the casualty to a land ambulance at the nearest road. All that requires the ability to navigate in poor weather conditions, when tired, with the pressure of a live casualty to look after, and requires dynamic navigation decisions such as about the most suitable terrain to cross in differing conditions.

I have also trained Ten Tors teams for many years, principally with Tavistock & District Outdoor Education Forum. I particularly enjoy leading the 35 mile teams, the youngest age-group. It is always a great honour to teach young people the skills to navigate the moor and to build an effective team to complete the challenge. It is also humbling to watch their personal development over the course of training and the event itself.

My overall navigational aim is to teach soft skills so that people get to where they want to on the fine days with the minimum of navigational effort and the maximum of ability just to enjoy their environment and the company they are in … but have the skills needed to get safely and swiftly from A to B on the days of poor visibility. If I can improve anyone’s sense of self-confidence and ability in the process then I have done my job well.

I also teach a range of other activities. If you wish to see all of my qualifications, they can be found here.

Navigation Courses

I offer bespoke navigation training days for individuals and groups. Whether your interest in navigation is as  a walker, runner, or mountain biker I can teach you the navigation skills to help you enjoy your time on the moor, travel efficiently and effectively, and use the map features to their best advantage.

You can book a bespoke small group navigation course for  up to 6 people at a time.  I keep these course numbers small so that everyone can maximise their learning and practice. The course can either be a certificated NNAS course or simply a course tailored to your needs.

The aims of navigation courses are simple – to give lovers of the outdoors, whatever their sport, age, or fitness, the freedom to explore the paths, trails, hills and mountains of Britain and abroad.

For 12 years I was a search team member in Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team using navigation skills in all weathers and have also been a Ten Tors Trainer for as many years. I teach people to use minimal navigation techniques in good visibility in order to move swiftly or to be able to enjoy the company of those you are with, but have a range of skills available to use in poor conditions.

See details of  the National Navigation Award Scheme certificated courses


National Navigation Award Scheme

The Bronze National Navigation Award is a practical hands-on certificated award. It is aimed at people with no navigation experience whether you are new to the outdoors or have been relying on others, guidebooks or easy well-defined routes.

It is also the starting point for many Duke of Edinburgh students, scouts and guides and cadets who are looking to develop their outdoor skills.

The syllabus of the Bronze National Navigation Award teaches navigation in the countryside using paths tracks and other linear features. Basic map interpretation and compass work is also included.

The Bronze syllabus

  • Navigate using a variety of maps and scales.
  • Use 4 and 6 figure grid references with worded descriptions to define the position of a map feature and to locate a feature on the ground.
  • Orientate the map using handrails, obvious point features and major landforms.
  • Use linear features (e.g. paths, tracks, clear boundaries) as handrails in simple navigation exercises.
  • Relate prominent landforms such as large hills and valleys to corresponding contour information on the map.
  • Orientate the map by aligning a compass needle against grid north and be aware that magnetic variation causes an inaccuracy.
  • Use an orientated map to confirm direction of travel.
  • Use clearly identifiable features to confirm position along the route and to recognise when the target has been overshot.
  • Measure horizontal distance on the map and estimate distance on the ground using timing, pacing and simple visual judgements e.g.100m.
  • Plan and implement simple routes and navigation strategies based on the above skills.
  • Recognise a navigation error within a few minutes and apply simple relocation techniques using handrails and prominent features.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of local and national access issues, access legislation, personal responsibilities and the Countryside Code.
  • Demonstrate appropriate knowledge of walking equipment, safety equipment and emergency procedures.

Cost £100.00 per person for 2 days of instruction and assessment (12 hours total)

The Silver National Navigation Award develops the navigation skills acquired at the Bronze level. It adds skills required to navigate to features and places some distance from paths and tracks. It teaches accurate compass work. It will also teach you to select the suitable navigational techniques to cross open country.

Silver National Navigation Award courses are taught in areas with access to open country and involve periods where you’ll be navigating away from paths and tracks.

The Silver Syllabus

  • Utilise the skills and techniques of the Bronze Award in the context of Silver Award navigation strategies.
  • Relate small hills, small valleys, prominent re-entrants and prominent spurs to their corresponding map contours. Use prominent hills, ridges, spurs and valleys as a means of navigation in good visibility.
  • Use landforms and point features to orientate the map and as collecting and catching features.
  • Use a compass to: Accurately follow a bearing; aim off; check the direction of handrails and other linear features.
  • Deviate briefly from a compass bearing to avoid obstacles or difficult terrain and accurately regain the original line.
  • Use back bearings to check route following accuracy.
  • Measure distance on the ground in varied, open terrain using timing and pacing and make practical allowances for any discrepancies.
  • Simplify legs using coarse navigation, attack points and fine navigation.
  • Recognise dangerous or difficult terrain on map and ground.
  • Plan and implement navigational strategies based on the above skills.
  • Maintain route finding accuracy in poor visibility or darkness.
  • Recognise a navigation error within a few minutes and apply appropriate relocation techniques.
  • Understand how personal fitness and nature of terrain affect route choice both at the planning stage and on the ground.
  • Understand the potential consequences of fatigue and physical discomfort in demanding terrain and/or extreme weather conditions.
  • Select appropriate clothing, equipment and first aid items for walking in open country in all weather conditions.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the Countryside Code, current access legislation and the environmental impact of walkers on the countryside.
  • Understand the responsibilities of walkers towards other countryside interests such as farming, forestry and conservation.

Cost £100.00 per person for 2 days of instruction and assessment (12 hours total)

Walk Leading

I am available to book to lead a walk or expedition for your group.

I hold Mountain Training qualifications as listed below and am fully insured and first aid trained.

Please contact me for details.