The Gold Navigator Award builds on the skills acquired at the Bronze and Silver levels and adds techniques and skills for dealing with complex contour features both large and small. Gold NNAS courses are taught in areas with access to open country and involve periods where you’ll be navigating away from paths and tracks.
The Gold National Navigation Award is equivalent to Summer Mountain Leader level navigation.
Gold Navigator Award
Where they are run:
The courses are run in the magnificent Howgill Fells - the often overlooked area between Sedbergh, Kirkby Stephen and Tebay. If you've ever been on the M6 and wondered what the enclosing hills are to the south of Tebay services, they are the Howgills. They are officially in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, but form the link between the Dales and the Lake District National Park. Public transport in the area is poor, but there is easy access from the M6 if coming by car, and you can get a taxi from Kirkby Stephen or Sedbergh mainline stations.
We meet at The Fat Lamb Inn at 0900 just outside Ravenstonedale at the start of a course (just south of Kirkby Stephen). More details are sent out on booking. If you are travelling from afar, I'd recommend staying at the Inn for the duration of the course. There is plenty of other places to stay in Ravenstonedale as well as Kirkby Stephen or Sedbergh.
To see the location in Google Maps, please click here (opens in a new tab).
In 2024, we are looking to also introduce the Gold Navigator Award to the North York Moors National Park on the other side of the Pennines! So please watch this space!
What the Course Involves:
There is a very brief indoor run through the course indoors over a brew on the first morning we meet. But we are mainly out on the hills learning the practical tools and skills in the real environment. You have access to a bite-size video series which covers the syllabus and this will introduce many of the topics we practice outdoors. They also serve as a useful reminder resource for afterwards!
Building on the skills covered in the Bronze and Silver Navigator Awards, the Gold Navigator Award adds techniques and skills for dealing with complex contour features both large and small. You've learnt a range of tools and techniques during your Bronze and Silver Awards. Here we show you how to primarily use the landscape to navigate - and when to bring out the tools you have spent so much time learning and practicing. If we are cursed with fine weather, we head out for some poor visability evening navigation after a break and some food so please be prepared for some night nav!
The Gold Navigator Award contains a pre- and post-course question paper. Both papers must be submitted to be marked in addition to the practical elements before the course is deemed complete and a result can be announced. You'll be familiar with the format of these from other courses you will have attended.
The instructor:client ratio is 1:4 with a minimum of 2 clients for both training and assessment to ensure that everyone gets the most benefit from the course. Peer-experience and sharing is an important aspect.
By the end of the course, you will have a good understanding of:
Use the skills and techniques of the Bronze and Silver Awards in the context of Gold National Navigation Award navigation strategies.
Use contours and fine detail as the prime method of navigation.
Accurately: Follow a route, judge distance, check progress against time, use relevant compass skills and maintain continuous map contact.
Use back bearings and transits to confirm the current position.
Use aspect of slope as an aid to relocation.
Select appropriate techniques within an overall navigation strategy.
Navigate in intricate terrain in reduced visibility i.e. mist or darkness.
Select an appropriate, safe route in relation to height gain and loss, dangerous terrain and other major hazards.
Assess the route ahead in the field in relation to prevailing conditions or changing circumstances (e.g. weather, time, daylight, ability/fitness) and re-plan the route appropriately if necessary.
Shorten a route, use an escape route and know emergency procedures.
Recognise the occurrence of a navigational error within a few minutes and apply appropriate relocation techniques.
Select appropriate clothing, equipment and first aid for walking in remote areas in all weather conditions.
Understand the physical demands created by hill and moorland terrain in all weather conditions.
Understand the effects of cold, heat, fatigue and discomfort on decision making and execution of a selected route.
You will be unable to book onto this course unless you have completed and passed the Silver Navigator Award. If you have equivalent experience (e.g. you're a Summer ML trainee, HML etc) then please just get in touch so we can bypass the automated booking check
The Courses are developed by the National Navigation Award Scheme. The Awards (Bronze, Silver and Gold) are accredited by the Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework (SCQF) at Level 4, 5 and 6 respectively and 2 SCQF credit points are awarded on completion. These have equivalents in England and Wales.
Fabian is the Course Director for all of our NNAS courses. He has a particular passion for teaching. He's taught outdoor skills over the past 20+ years to a range of audiences. He sat on the NNAS Board of Directors between 2017-2023. He also designs, develops and delivers multi-day practical courses on health innovation for universities and the NHS. He's a very experienced tutor and absolutely loves teaching.
Important and Useful Resources:
There is a series of bitesize videos that accompanies this course. They also act as a useful reminder of the topics and tools we covered for after. Teaching navigation theory online can never replace going out with an instructor however as you can't 'feel' what it is like to walk 100m using pacing when sat at home.
If you decide this course is right for you, please ensure that you have watched the video series. This will seed some of the concepts we will practice out on the hill.
Have completed the Silver Navigator Award, HML trained or assessed, Summer ML trained minimum. It is expected that you have some good hill fitness. The Howgills are grassy but steep in places and we will be largely off tracks for the two days.
Each non-residential course costs £180 per person for the two days training and assessment. You will need to provide your own accommodation (if needed), transport and travel insurance. This includes a £7.50 registration fee to NNAS.
It includes training and assessment over two days (minimum of 12 hours) with a qualified NNAS Tutor and experienced guide. There is a certificate on successfully passing the award.