Walking Backwards (that is, doing a Time Out Book Walk in reverse)


Many of our Book 1 and Book 2 walks work just as well and are equally enjoyable when done in reverse and doing one “the wrong way round” once in a while makes for a pleasant change and almost acts as an additional walk. However, following the directions the “wrong way round” in the Book is quite challenging, mainly due to the level of detail in the Book directions. So, to help you on your way – backwards - here are a few tips:


  1. Before you set out “flip” the compass bearings in the Book and write the reverse bearings neatly above or to the side of the bearings in the Book.
    • Rule: if the compass bearing in the Book is less than 180 degrees, add 180 degrees: if more than 180 degrees, deduct 180 degrees.

      For example:
      the compass bearing in the Book is 40 degrees: the reverse bearing is 220 degrees.
      the compass bearing in the Book is 280 degrees: the reverse bearing is 100 degrees.

  2. To follow the walk directions, lefts obviously become rights and vice versa. Experienced TO walkers get used to reading the directions ahead in the Book, by a paragraph or two, as this often clarifies a direction further back. You now have to get used to reading instructions further back in the Book, by one and sometimes two paragraphs, to know when you need to change direction etc.
  3. One of you on the walk must have the OS Explorer map with you, for you will go “off piste” once in a while / from time to time when walking backwards.
  4. Leave more time for your walk. You will find yourself stopping frequently to figure out your next direction and difficult sections will be slow going.
  5. Never attempt a walk backwards if weather conditions at the onset are very bad or if the forecast for later in the day is unfavourable. Due to the need to scrutinise the Book directions frequently, your Book will soon become sodden in very wet conditions.
  6. Do not undertake a walk backwards on your own unless you are proficient at map reading, using a compass and confident when being out in the wilds alone.
  7. Try to maintain your sense of humour when lost. Someone should eventually find you and incidents of walkers dying of exposure in South East England are few and far between.
  8. Finally, enjoy – it is good fun going backwards !

OS Map Extracts

Its possible to printout extracts of OS maps from several websites, e.g. www.streetmap.co.uk [ed]

Last Updated: Sep-06 by Marcus