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.