National Navigation Award Scheme

The National Navigation Award Scheme (NNAS) has Bronze, Silver and Gold courses which take you step by step from navigating along footpaths through fields and woodland to crossing pathless terrain over mountains and moorlands. 

From our base near St Albans in Hertfordshire we run Bronze and Silver Award courses. Each course lasts 12 hours, normally spread over two days between 09.30 and 15.30. Please note, however, that the Silver Course also includes some nighttime navigation on the first day.

It is possible to take the Silver Course without having the Bronze Award if you are confident you already have basic map and compass skills. If you are not sure after reading the information below then please look at this quiz and contact me.

Bronze Award Syllabus

The Bronze Award is aimed at people with little or no navigation experience. It is a tried and tested course which will enable you to:

  • Recognise the most essential symbols on Ordnance Survey Maps
  • Learn how to set a map; in other words, make sure it is always pointing north and lines up with the real world
  • Navigate along features on the landscape such as fences, footpaths, woodland edges and rivers etc.
  • Learn about the importance of Open Access Land, rights of way and the Countryside Code
  • Learn how to measure distance on the map with the help of a compass, and on the ground using pacing, timing and visual judgement
  • Master grid references to identify where you are, and the pros and cons of what3words
  • Use contour features on the map to identify ridges and valleys
  • Learn how to ‘relocate’; in other words, establish where you are when at first you weren’t sure
  • Discuss safety procedures, and kit

For a full list of the topics covered on the Bronze course please follow this link to the NNAS website.


Silver Award Syllabus

Building on the skills from the Bronze Award, you head off paths into more open country, developing compass skills and forming a better understanding of contour features. It will enable you to:
  • Relate small hills, small valleys, kinks in a path and prominent spurs to their corresponding map contours. Use prominent hills, ridges, spurs and valleys as a means of navigation in good visibility.
  • Use landforms and point features to orientate the map and as collecting and catching features.
  • Use a compass to: accurately follow a bearing; aim off; check the direction of handrails and other linear features.
  • Deviate from a compass bearing to avoid obstacles or difficult terrain and accurately regain the original line.
  • Use back bearings to check route following accuracy.
  • Measure distance on the ground in varied, open terrain using timing and pacing and make practical allowances for any discrepancies.
  • Simplify legs using coarse navigation, attack points and fine navigation.
  • Recognise dangerous or difficult terrain on map and ground.
  • Plan and implement navigational strategies based on the above skills.
  • Maintain route finding accuracy in poor visibility or darkness.
  • Recognise a navigation error within a few minutes and apply appropriate relocation techniques.
  • Understand how personal fitness and nature of terrain affect route choice both at the planning stage and on the ground.
  • Understand the potential consequences of fatigue and physical discomfort in demanding terrain and/or extreme weather conditions.
  • Select appropriate clothing, equipment and first aid items for walking in open country in all weather conditions.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the Countryside Code, current access legislation and the environmental impact of walkers on the countryside.
  • Understand the responsibilities of walkers towards other countryside interests such as farming, forestry and conservation.
  • Understand how outdoor activities impact on the environment and how that impact can be minimised and sustainable use promote.

For the full list of topics covered on the Silver course please follow this link to the NNAS website