by Tom Davies

Part One – Getting Started


The basic requirements of participating in any event that can be classed as rallying are, naturally a roadworthy car, a competent driver and a navigator.

It is on the role and skills of the navigator that this series of articles will concentrate. Hopefully at some stage another club member will create a series "From the Right Hand Seat".

It is my intention to cover over a series of articles, sufficient detail of the art of navigation and map reading to enable the complete beginner to have enough confidence and enthusiasm to compete and catch the "rally bug".

Throughout the series I will use working examples of the techniques based on the map:

The Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50,000 series, sheet 189, edition C, revised 1997.

This is the latest edition of the map that covers my home territory, and which is regularly used by the Blackpalfrey and other local motor clubs for rallies. This map sheet will cost you £4.95 at any good bookshop. I would recommend that you purchase one and you should then get the maximum benefit from this series of articles.

A word of caution – when purchasing this map sheet check that you are getting the correct edition as listed above. Some bookshops will still be holding old stock.

In describing the map I have used the term 1:50,000, what does this mean?

It is the scale of the map, the Representative Fraction (RF) which is the standard method of expressing a scale on all maps using the metric system. So a scale of 1:50,000 means that on this series of maps one centimetre on the map represents 50,000 centimetres on the ground. Translated into distances most can visualise, 1 centimetre on the map = 500 metres (546.8 yards)

A tip on how to estimate distance is to find an area on the map sheet you are familiar with. Drive to a known point on the sheet measure 500 metres on the map and locate that 500 metre point on the ground. Then compare your visual sight with the map distance. Using that known measuring point you should then (within reason) be able to work out distances quickly when reading a road off the map (e.g. from one junction to another etc).

Basic Equipment

Many experienced navigators have previously written articles about basic equipment, as you gain proficiency, see what others are using and develop your own preferences you will assemble your own personal kit. Here are some suggestions to get you started.