Frequently Asked Questions


A good tip is to check the BBC Breakfast Program or News 24 first thing before you set off, for a last minute forecast on the chance of rain or shine.

What to Bring / Wear?

Travel by Car

Navigating using Detailed Instructions (rather than a map)?

If you are used to a map and compass, this may seem a little odd, but it works well, especially in the lowlands and woods where there are many paths. You can of course print off 1:50,000 maps segments from this website, or 1:25,000 scale from Multimap or Streetmap

Some useful tips.

What do I do if I get lost?

First of all, don't panic.

Second, don't just carry on, because, if you don't have a map, and you have gone wrong, you really will get lost. If the next instruction is "in 100 meters...", which will take about 2 mins on flat terrain, don't carry on walking for 10 mins!

All the walks in the books have been checked several times by different people, so all the obvious and commonly made errors have been corrected.

The most common error people make is skipping a paragraph, or reading the same one twice. Sit down, and spend a few mins re-reading the last paragraph, and see if you've missed something. Maybe there was an arrow or a path partly hidden by undergrowth, or you missed something while you were talking.

If you have made a mistake:

Although, it feels hard to retrace your steps, and walk back the way you came, its usually the right thing to do. Even if you have to go back 500 meters, thats only 10 mins walk, and you'll probably spend that much time just thinking about it!

What is this Year's OS Map Magnetic Variation?

North on an Ordnance Survey (OS) map (the grid) is not quite the same as magnetic north on a compass, nor is either the same as true north (the Earth's axis)

In July 2019, the magnetic variation (or declination) was:

Starting in the Southwest, the figures are changing from 'east' to 'west' (for the first time in 400 years!), so the old "Add for Mag(netic) - Get Rid for Grid" mnemonic will soon be wrong! In 10 years London, and in 15 years the whole country will be 'east'.

How to use this figure (e.g. London).

In 2019, the correction is so close to zero, you can almost ignore it

Magnetic Variation Calculator (British Geological Survey)

What speed do I walk at?

How far can I see?

The distance to the horizon is

So, if you are on the South Downs (height about 200 meters) looking out to sea, you can see 32 miles on a clear day, i.e. 2.25 * √(200) miles.

If you are looking at another mountain, or other object above the horizon, you need to add your distance to the horizon, and its distance to the horizon together. So, if you are on the South Downs, looking towards the North Downs (also about 200 meters), you could see the very tops of them 64 miles away.

You can derive the formulae for yourself if you know the earth's radius, and understand radians ... sin Θ => Θ as Θ => 0

Last Updated: Sep-09