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Wednesday, 30 November 2016 13:43

First Experience of the fabled All Night Nav

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The All Night Navigation Exercise

In the second post from the 2016 intake of team trainees, Dave blogs about his first experience of the All Night Navigation Exercise. The event is a right of passage for our team trainees and takes place towards the end of them completing their log book. For the newbies, we invite them along so they can see what awaits them in around about 12 months time and they can see the skill and pressure which will be expected of them. For their first experience though it is very much about enjoyment and getting to know some of the team members.

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My first introduction to the Team All Night Navigation Exercise

‘So Dave, how was your first all night navigation exercise?’ This was put to me and really it was exactly what it said on the tin.

The sea of headlights greeted each other with blinding head torch introductions from strange people. However, through the crowd immersed a nervous Bex, one of the 2015 trainees undergoing her assessment,  carrying her bodyweight in torches. I think the total was 7, supplying enough candlepower to send a distress signal to space.

Before we set off we were given a quick brief from an unknown head torch (turned out to be Navigation Team member Rob Dixon) about the new recruits not shying away from navigation during the evening essentially.

Soon we arrived at Lud Gate and Lee stepped up to navigate the first stage of the trip. I was so engrossed in a conversation with a random head torch and completely absent minded until they suddenly asked me where we were on the map. Luckily Stuart was there with his map pointing to the exact point; I then gave an approving nod.

Once we were at Pupers Hill it was my turn to take on the navigation. My job was to navigate from Pupers Hill to our campsite for the night, T Girt. So leaving the comfort of the track I headed out on bearing brimming with confidence. The pressure suddenly mounted when I looked behind to find a head torch starring at the ViewRanger app. Roughly 5 minutes into my leg, the batteries in my head torch died and I brought out my below par search torch. Unassumingly hovering my torch over the compass along with my mobile phone in the pocket next to the compass, I had naively ignored the electromagnetism effect of the torch and phone on my compass had caused me to have gone off course– that’s what I blamed anyway.

After arriving at the campsite we set the tents up on the only part of the Dartmoor not pickled with too much lumpy frozen sheep poo. Team member Tas offered around her pick n mix. She had the most eclectic selection I have ever seen. This party I was having in my mouth was slowly stopped after one head torch told me it was the same pick n mix they had brought in Woolworths in 1985, just topped up each year.

We then began to get cold so a head torch instructed Owen to lead us to a location somewhere on Huntingdon Warren. Owen expertly led us to Huntingdon Warren over particularly rough ground.

From the track leading to Red Lake we began to head south to the Marker Stone. Fully equipped this time with new batteries in the head torch I led the group to the Marker Stone.

Following a minor dispute about the location of the marker stone, we headed along the path to Huntingdon Cross where we stopped for some food. I drank the remains of my water bottle that was laden with enough caffeine to keep me awake for a month.

We returned to T Girt at approximately 3:40am and then waited for some people to arrive before retiring at 4:00am.

Everyone who was involved in the planning and organising of the trip did a fantastic job. An unforgettable experience with the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton team.  I look forward to many more in the future.

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