Week 17 of my challenge has seen me break out my GPS and head outdoors.

Next weekend I will be assisting in one of Walk Fife’s free workshops so I thought I would brush up on my GPS navigation skills.

The Walk Fife workshops have been incredibly popular thanks to the dedication and hard work put in by Gary, Andrew, Sue, Karen and Mark. When I was asked if I would be interested in assisting with a workshop I instantly leapt at the chance.

I really enjoy meeting other like-minded walkers and having an opportunity to share some of the knowledge I have gained over my many years of walking is not not something I would miss out on. You can find out more about our workshops by visiting – www.walkfife.com/workshops/

Beginners Guide To Using A GPS Device

The workshop I will be helping to host is a introduction to using a GPS device and is aimed squarely at those walkers who are new to such devices and want to know how to operate their gadget correctly.

I am genuinely surprised by how many people I have met on the hills who have become lost simply because their GPS device was either not set up correctly or they didn’t understand what the device was actually indicating to them.

Gary, who plans our workshops. felt the same and created a 3 hour introductory course that we think will help the beginner to understand how such a device operates and how to get the most from it.

The first part of the course will take place in the classroom where attendees will be familiarised with a number of different makes and models and then they will be shown how to set up their device correctly. The second half of the course is outside and will take attendees through the various aspects of using a GPS device on the ground in a real life situation.

Making the switch to GPS

In order to be ready to assist Gary and the team in running the workshop, I spent my week’s walking accompanied by my trusty Garmin eTrex 20x.

It may surprise many readers of this blog that, apart from when I am verifying or recording new routes for the Walk Fife website, I don’t actually use a GPS device very often. I tend to favour the traditional map and compass as my primary form of navigation but this week I stowed both of these in my pack and promoted my GPS to prime position.

Breaking bad habits

When out walking the hills I have unfortunately developed a number of what Gary to refers to as “bad habits” and in order to be a good assistant I had to drop these. As with many skills it is easy to adopt methods or techniques that aren’t in line with the prescribed practice and it is something I think that most people do at some stage.

Over the past week I have been battling against my “nifty shortcuts” and stuck to the recommended techniques for operating my device. I admit that at first it was rather annoying to do this but I soon fell back into line and I was using my device as I should and towards the end of the week I was given the seal of approval by Gary when we met to have a dry run of the workshop.

Week 17 lessons

Looking back over this past week, I am honestly surprised by how many bad habits I had actually picked up over the years when using a GPS device.

In my mind these were quick workarounds to things that were perhaps annoying me but in reality I was losing some of the functionality that these devices possess. In terms of navigation, I was unintentionally crippling myself but I am glad to say that I am back on track thanks to Gary.

Although I had a great week walking with my eTrex, I don’t think I am quite ready to give up my map and compass approach to navigation. Experience has taught me that it is better to have many strings to your bow when it comes to a skill which is vitally important and to the walker, navigation is one of those.

Walking on…

I am really looking forward to the workshop at the end of this coming week and meeting more walkers from our wonderful Fife walking community. The weather for week 18 looks to be improving slightly so I will be getting out and honing my GPS navigation skills in readiness.

If you have any questions about this challenge or anything Walk Fife related, then please drop me a email at sean@walkfife.com or direct message me through my twitter account @SDMakin.

Catch up with you again next week.

Happy Walking!

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