You are currently viewing Navigating in Poor Visibility


The Welsh Mountains can be an imposing place. I remember the weather worsening as I climbed with a friend up Y Gribbin – a grade one scramble that ends between two of the Glyders – Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach. The wind was gusting 70mph and the mist had closed in reducing visibility to a few metres. At the top of the route we came across a couple who were unsure where they were. One thought they were on the summit of Glyder Fawr, the other was convinced they were on the top of Gylder Fach. Apart from resolving an escalating marital conflict (!) we were pleased to be able to advise against descending from where they were via the Gribbin. In high winds with poor visibility they could easily have faced problems by straying onto far trickier ground such as the Cneifion Arete.

I guess the temptation of a fire and a comfy sofa can outstrip an adventurous spirit, so we often have pretty limited experience at navigating in poor visibility and as a result it can take us by surprise. I’ve found that one excellent way of gaining experience is by doing some night walks. Choose an area which is familiar to you to start with and don’t be too ambitious about the length of the walk. It can also be a great thing to do with the whole family. And if you can navigate effectively in the dark you can be more confident however poor the visibility is in the hills.

The Mountain Training Association have produced an excellent book on navigation which contains advice on night navigation which can be found here.