The BBC describes him as “The Sherlock Holmes of Nature” and it really is understandable why.
Tristan has written 6 fascinating books about the art of natural navigation, you can find these, including his latest release ‘The Secret World of Weather‘ on his website here. Tristan’s books open your eyes to the incredible world of nature and how to read what it’s trying to tell you and where you are along your journey. These skills include, but are definitely not limited to, being able to read the subtle signs in the smallest breeze, a puddle on the path, birdsong, the motion of water and the moon and stars above you.
From just a short chat, it was so easy to pick up his enthusiasm for the natural world and all those different signs in everything around you. Tristan has dedicated his life and work to discovering and decoding these messages and sharing them with the rest of the world in a way that enables everybody to do the same.
For more from Tristan, the courses he runs and to keep in touch with him on social media, just click the links below:
Needless to say, I was thrilled when Tristan agreed to have a chat about the wonder of the natural world. You can listen to the chat just below here or on most podcast streaming services – it’s even available on YouTube! All the links you need are below.
‘The real benefit is not reaching your objective… the experience you get along the way is the real benefit‘
Mark Davey – CEO of The Youth Adventure Trust
Mark Davey has been CEO of The Youth Adventure Trust for over 20 years now and not only has a plethora of experience and knowledge but clearly has a big passion and strong belief in what the trust is about.
The Youth Adventure Trust use outdoor adventures to empower young people to fulfil their potential and lead positive lives in the future. They work with them to build resilience, develop confidence and learn skills that will last a lifetime, helping them to face the challenge in their lives.
I believe that encouraging more people to engage with the natural world is so important and after reading why the Youth Adventure Trust do this, I couldn’t help but reach out and have a chat with Mark in order to spread the word a little more.
I absolutely implore you to have a look at their website and look into the numerous ways you’re able to support them in this incredible cause:
This 2-day NNAS Bronze Award is perfect for beginners and intermediates. The course teaches you how to navigate using paths, tracks and linear features, using a map and compass. It is a very practical, enjoyable and hands-on weekend which will provide you with all those necessary skills you need to plan walks, take the lead and explore. It is also the starting point for many Duke of Edinburgh Award participants, scouts, guides and cadets looking to develop their navigation skills.
Intothesticks.life is an official provider of the National Navigation Award Scheme (NNAS), meaning we can provide an accredited and recognised qualification in Navigation. If you are successful in achieving the pass criteria of this course you will receive an NNAS Bronze Award certificate. The NNAS Bronze award is accredited by the Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework (SCQF) at Level 4, and 2 SCQF credit points are awarded on completion.
If you are interested in attending this course but not necessarily interested in gaining the qualification, you’re more than welcome to complete the course without assessment.
What will this course do for you?
By the end of the course, you will gain:
Skills to help read a map and use a compass
New outdoor skills
Confidence and enjoyment of the outdoors
A recognised national award (NNAS)
Among other skills, we will cover:
Navigation strategy & decision making
How to plan and follow your route
Accurate distance estimation (visual, timing, pacing)
Understanding and visualising contours
How stay safe outdoors
At intothesticks.life we run a very friendly, informal and relaxed approach to learning; teaching from personal experience gained from years of adventuring. The course groups will be no bigger than 8 people, which means we have plenty of time to dedicate to each person, so nobody feels forgotten or left behind.
You should expect to cover a very steady and comfortable distances each day, across farmland, hills and woodland, so you do not have to be a marathon runner, but a suitable level of fitness would be beneficial.
‘James was an excellent tutor, clearly had a good practical understanding of the skills he was teaching, and had a nice relaxed approach. We were a small group so he was able to spend a lot of time helping us develop our skills over the weekend and provide guidance.’
‘Was great, loved it! Liked James’s relaxed approach which makes everyone feel comfortable.’
‘James had excellent teaching skills and was very patient with students. He is very calm and explains things slowly, and is very encouraging.’
‘A patient and thorough teacher, who also gives you lots of scope to practice and develop.’
Which location should you choose?
To see what you can expect to find at just a handful of our course locations, select the videos below
Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire
North Marston, Buckinghamshire
Wendover Woods, Buckinghamshire
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the course?
The NNAS Bronze Course is two full days starting at 09:30 and finishing at 17:00
If you cannot complete the course in one weekend, you are welcome to do spread it over two separate weekends. Just see the course dates for what’s available.
Does the assessment include a written exam?
No. The course is entirely practical. There are a few discussion points we will go over during the course, but there is absolutely no written element to this course. The assessment is all about how well you use those essential navigation skills.
Are there toilets nearby?
Not necessarily. We will always start and finish near toilet facilities but when we are walking on the route or having lunch, we may not be near any toilets. We recommend using a really nice bush – especially if it’s got a great panoramic view!
What should I bring?
It is highly recommended that you bring with you:
Basic outdoor walking gear (including good waterproof jacket and trousers)
Comfortable worn in walking boots or walking shoes
At least 1L of water for each day and a packed lunch and snacks for the trail
Suitable clothing for the weather: warm layers, spares, woolly hat/sun hat, gloves, sunglasses
We provide maps and compasses for you use during the course but if you have your own, then bring them along.
Jeans, wellington boots and heels are not suitable.
We reserve the right to refuse to allow you to continue with the course if you are not prepared properly. If you have any questions at all about what you should bring or if it is suitable, please ask before attending the course.
Is there somewhere I can heat my lunch up?
No. Bring a cold packed lunch and do not rely on being able to buy food at lunch time. We could well be eating out lunch in the woods, in a field or on a hill.
What do I need to know before I attend your course?
You can come on this course with little to no navigational experience whatsoever. We’ll go through everything right from the beginning and help you every step of the way!
It would be helpful if you refreshed yourself with the Countryside Code. This will be discussed during the course too.
There are a great selection of books to look at too if you wanted to, we highly recommend ‘The Ultimate Navigation Manual’ by Lyle Brotherton.
YouTube is also a fantastic resource for looking up navigation skills. Steve Backshall has done a handful of videos for Ordnance Survey and you can find them here
Can I do it by myself?
You can do this course by yourself or bring some friends along but they must be booked onto the course as well.
Sorry, but we do ask that you leave children at home.
Can I bring a dog?
We absolutely love dogs at intothesticks.life, however some of the course locations do not, so unfortunately we ask that dogs are left at home too.
Do I get a certificate at the end of the course?
Yes you do! Upon successful completion of the NNAS Bronze Award, the National Navigation Award Scheme will issue you a certificate. This should be expected within a couple of weeks of completing the course. You will not receive this during the course.
How do I know if it’s the right course for me?
If you want the confidence in your ability to navigate and recognise features in your surroundings with a map and compass, then this is for you. You will learn skills that enable you to get outside and follow those paths and trails you have been wanting to try all this time!
How fit do I need to be? How far will we be walking?
A moderate level of fitness is all that’s required for the NNAS Bronze Award course. The course is done on foot and it will involve plenty of walking over a variety of terrains in all weathers. You should be able to comfortably walk approximately ten miles (15km) over the period of day – you do not need to be a marathon runner!
If the course is fully booked, to give everybody a fair chance to learn the skills and lead the group, you should expect to be walking no more than 10 miles over approximately 6 or 7 hours. It is a nice gentle pace and certainly not a run!
What happens when I book a place?
To book a spot, you need to get in touch using the methods over here. From there we will make sure your course of choice is definitely available before we confirm availability and arrange payment. Once payment is received you will be officially placed on that course and you will receive a confirmation email with further details about the weekend and what you will need to bring.
What happens if I cancel my booking after paying?
Depending on the notice you give us, we will arrange a refund for you. Please be aware that the percentage of the refund depends on the notice we receive.