Compass navigation

From: Benedict Adamson (
Date: Fri 09 May 1997 - 15:40:48 EEST

One of my leisure activities is hill walking, for which navigation can be
important. I've never used a compass to triangulate my position, to produce
a `cocked hat'---think how difficult doing so is without a map table.

My most common uses for a compass is to determining which direction to walk
after determining where I am on the map and where I want to get to.
In the RW the north (magnetic) pole is usually very distant, so the bearing of
a straight path (course) is (almost) the same at all points on the path.
But consider the bearing of a straight course from Corflu to the
Block measured with a Pavis-pointing compass: it increases from about
45 degress to about 120 degree (sorry, don't have a map handy to check).
Using the Pavis-pointing compass to follow the course would be difficult
and error prone.
City-pointing compoasses might be almost useless except for setting a course
directly to the city (which I guess is their porpose) or when very far from
the city (which I doubt would happen).

In any case, trying to hold a course while walking on rough terrain is
difficult, so you tend to choose a succession of close points or don't
that is, follow a linear terrain feature (path, ridge, stream) or aim for
obvious landmarks instead.

So if your powergamers expect their Locate Self skilll to give them GPS
accuracy, laugh evilly at them. Following a compass bearing on boggy Dartmoor
(where keeping on course was difficult because of the need to skirt pools of
water) I once deviated half a mile east while moving about one and a half miles
north! (I think my navigation has improved since then :-)

- --
Benedict Adamson, Project Engineer, Computational Dynamics Limited.
PHONE: +44 (0)181 969 9639 FAX: +44 (0)181 968 8606
POST: Olympic House, 317 Latimer Road, London W10 6RA, ENGLAND.


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