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View from Mount Blair

Have you always done walks with guides but wished you could go off on your own? Do you want to try new places but are worried you’ll get lost?

Learn how to use a map and compass and the essentials of navigation so you can take yourself or lead others in the outdoors.

Every course is tailored to your specific needs, whether you want to pass a Mountain Leader assessment, plan a solo walking trip or take your family out safely for the day.

Let us know what you want to achieve and we'll make sure you get there.

  • course summary

Course Summary

Start time: 9:30am

End time: 4:00pm

Cost: £75 per person

Dates: see Calendar or request date

Location: Den O' Alyth Car Park, Alyth, Perthshire 

Gain confidence to navigate solo 

Test yourself with realistic scenarios outdoors which will prove that you can rely on your map, compass and yourself

Woman with map and compass

Learn to love maps

Understand map symbols, scale and the cartographer's choice of information so you know how to choose the right map for your purposes. Discover the wealth of information within maps that enables you to find historical sites and new places to explore.

Woman Navigating with dog

Never feel lost again with natural navigation

Learn how to continually know where you are -- rather than having to pull out a map every few minutes. Like Sherlock Holmes, you will learn how to read the clues so you always know where you are on the map. 

Sometimes a map is inaccurate or out of date. Learn how to piece together all the clues in the landscape so that you can confidently identify when the map is wrong and what to do about it.

When in wilder, remote locations, everybody gets lost to some extent and has to relocate themselves. Learn how to relocate yourself when you've gotten temporarily lost.

Woman navigating with map
Natalie Halliday

David Halliday

mountain rescue team member

I can’t talk of Malcolm highly enough. Three 1 to 1 sessions is all it took to take me from novice hill walker all the way to the standard required to pass a mountain rescue team 3 days assessment.

I didn’t even know how to use a compass when I first met Malcolm however his practical and expert way of teaching meant that it didn’t take long to get the hang of it. Malcolm’s knowledge and advice meant that I blended in with the team members able to share advice and knowledge in a way where most people assumed I had more experience.

Being able to navigate effectively in a white out tested this to the max. This was solely down to Malcolm and the time/effort he put into teaching me. I honestly can’t thank him enough.

What happens in this course?

We set out on foot for the day, visiting different locations and landscapes to illustrate the techniques and scenarios. At each point, you will practice and gain hands-on experience in every skill until you have confidence in your abilities.

Over the day, you will learn:

1) How to read a map

  • what parts of an Ordinance Survey Map you need to pay attention to (and what to ignore)
  • understanding map scale
  • what symbols mean
  • understanding contours
  • measuring distance

2) How to continually orientate yourself

  • using natural navigation techniques 
  • why a compass can help you
  • reading a landscape to choose the best route

3) How to use navigate in extreme circumstances 

  • practice so you know how even in scary circumstances 
  • always know which direction you need to walk
  • relocate yourself when you're temporarily lost
  • using map and compass together
  • how to avoid dangerous hazards

4) Why pacing and timing are critical

  • know how far you have traveled so you don't get lost
  • know how far to go so you can safely find your destination

Instructor Malcolm Handoll

Malcolm, co-founder of Five Senses, lives at Bamff Ecotourism Estate with his wife Rachel and son. He is a Mountain Leader and geographer. He has been teaching mountain navigation for 25 years and loves solving each person's specific challenges with navigation.
More about us >

  • course summary

  • what to bring

Course Summary

Start time: 9:30am

End time: 4:00pm

Cost: £75 per person

Dates: see Calendar or request date

Location: Den O' Alyth Car Park, Alyth, Perthshire 

Book Now

If you don’t see the dates you want, please contact us for alternative dates.

We run special events for families, youth groups and provide bespoke training at the highest level in addition to the dates listed.

Navigation Course FAQs 

Is this course suitable for Mountain Leader training?

Absolutely, because we will tailor the course to your personal needs. As a qualified Mountain Leader, Malcolm well knows the requirements and is determined to make sure you succeed.

Is this course going to be too technical for me?

No because we focus on the essentials, not overburdening people with everything there is to know about navigation. We learn best when we're enjoying ourselves.

How is this course different from other navigation courses?

We are not restricted by a rigid curriculum, so we can focus on what you need. Based upon decades of experience teaching navigation at all levels and as a search and rescue volunteer -- where correct navigation is life and death.

Can I bring my dog?

You can, but it must be kept on a lead due to sheep and other wildlife nearby. That said, we recommend you don't bring a dog if possible because it can be a distraction -- it's difficult to hold a map whilst also holding a lead!

Is it suitable for families?

Most definitely! If you do book as a family, we will ensure it is a sole booking and not mixed with any other parties.

What terrain is the course in?

A blend of tracks, forestry and open hillside with technical contour features and challenging mountain-like scenarios but at low altitude.

How does this course compare to national navigation qualifications?

It much more geared towards immediately being able to navigate well.

What if I'm useless at navigating? Will I hold everyone else up?

We only teach small groups and we make sure people are of comparable ability prior to combining bookings. If you are concerned about how you'll fit in, talk to us in advance and we can ensure the day is tailored specifically to your needs.

Can I do this course with physical or mental limitations?

Please do. Get in touch with any requirements or questions and we will be delighted to deliver the same outcomes. 

Related Courses


What about Covid?

We continue to practice social distancing and the wearing of face masks in close proximity. As all activities are outdoors, we should be able to be mask-free. Sanitiser and soap will be provided. Let us know if you have tested positive for Covid within 2 weeks prior to your course and we'll reschedule you.

What about toilets?

We will be in the outdoors, so there are no designated toilets unless an emergency.

What about food?

Bring good pack lunch and snacks.

What about ticks?

Ticks are present, however we select areas where we can largely avoid them. We are very aware of the seriousness of potential tick bites and choose locations accordingly.

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.

On Google maps, we can be found by looking for ‘Bamff Ecotourism' near Alyth. Sometimes GPS has led people astray, so here are more precise directions:

From Edinburgh to Blairgowrie
Take the M90 over the Forth Bridge signposted for Perth. Leave the M90 after the Friarton Bridge over the Tay and follow the signs for Braemar (A93), through Bridgend , and then Blairgowrie.

From Glasgow to Blairgowrie
Take the A9 at the Broxden roundabout just west of Perth and stay on it until the turning for Luncarty. Go through Luncarty and Stanley the bear right for Blairgowrie, right again at T junction and left for Braemar/Blairgowrie at the junction with A 93.

From Blairgowrie to Alyth
Drive through Blairgowrie, going left at the traffic lights, cross the River Ericht, take the A926 out of Blairgowrie, signposted for ‘(Alyth)’ and Kirriemuir. Look out for the signs for Alyth shortly after New Alyth and turn left off the A926.

Drive straight through Alyth, leaving the Square to the right. The parish church is straight ahead. Cross the bridge over the Alyth Burn and swing left up the Bamff Road. Leave the church on your right.

From Alyth to Bamff
Follow the Bamff Road, signposted for Glenshee and Bridge of Cally for 2.5 miles.
After a sharp left hand bend, signed Glenshee, Bridge of Cally, (Glenisla is to the right) you will see the lodge at the end of the drive to Bamff . Turn off the road (to the right) and up the drive – about two thirds of a mile.

From the North
You may approach by the Tullymurdoch/Alyth road from the A93, or from the west from Bridge of Cally take the Drimmie Road. If you are approaching from Bridge of Cally go left at a sign for Bamff, then after Mains of Creuchies go right(for Alyth). You will see the Bamff farm road to your left after a few yards. Carry on for another half mile and take the next left, marked Bamff.

Perth to Blairgowrie is about 15 miles and Blairgowrie to Alyth is 5. Alyth to Bamff is 3.5 miles or so.

Will the course be cancelled if the weather is bad?

No, the course will run come rain or shine as that gives us a chance to learn in more realistic conditions. However if lightning is forecast, we will change locations.

Where to stay

We are based at Bamff Ecotourism Estate, which includes self-catering accommodation in cottages, yurts and off-grid cabins. 

What if we're late?

Please allow plenty of time extra to get to the start point -- don't rely on Satnav to get you there on time! Due to the rural location and farm traffic, travel times can be longer than you would expect.

If you're not going to make it to the start of the course at least 15 minutes prior to start, please contact us so we can make any arrangements.

What is the minimum age?

Children are welcome accompanied by parents, and 16 and 17 year olds are welcome solo with written permission.

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