Skills Refresher: Taking a compass bearing from the map

In poor visibility, thick fog or at night-time we sometimes use a map and compass to calculate the bearing we are going to walk along. Knowing how to take a compass bearing from the map is a key skill to have, just in case. 

This post could be a useful refresher for anyone who has done a Mountain Skills course or maybe hasn’t used their compass in a while.

If you haven’t used a compass before, or are unfamiliar with reading a map, then this post might not be for you. If you’d like to learn how to stay safe in the mountains, you might consider a 2-day Mountain Skills Course.

Knowing the parts of the compass

Firstly let’s look at this quick video to reacquaint ourselves with the parts of the compass we need to use.

Parts of the Compass

Now, let’s watch this video explaining how we can use those parts of the compass to take a bearing from the map.

Magnetic Variation

If you don’t understand magnetic variation and why we allow for it, if you don’t know your northings from your eastings or if any of the phrases used in the video are unfamiliar to you then the information in this video might not be of use to you just yet.

Tips on Taking a Compass Bearing From The Map

TOP TIP: try guessing what your bearing will be before you do the calculation. If your guesstimate is 90 or 180 degrees away from your calculation, we know we have made a mistake and can investigate why.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss any aspect of this video or navigation training.

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