#walk1000miles The first 200 miles

#walk1000miles The first 200 miles


Display of tulips in the Arboretum

In a moment of possible madness I decided to embark on the Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles in 2017 challenge. My first walk was what I called #WorkWalk which is a walk of 1.93 miles that I could do within my lunch hour at work. Luckily I work close to two green lungs in the City of Nottingham: the Forest Recreation Ground and the Arboretum. Truly splendid urban walking locations that not only aid physical fitness but also mental wellbeing. So the first circuit was completed on Tuesday 3rd January 2017 and now I have completed numerous rounds that have enabled me to steadily tick off the miles.


Snowdrops close-up

Close-up of snowdrops in Dimminsdale Woods

My wife and I have for the last couple of years wanted to see the beautiful display of snowdrops in Dimminsdale Woods in Leicestershire and we also seemed to always be a couple of weeks late. However, this year we were better planned and a visit there would also add a few miles towards my #walk1000miles total. Finally we saw the spectacle for ourselves which was an amazing experience and I added another couple of miles.


Tractor tracks

Tractor tracks provides evidence of the mud encountered on the local rambles

Alongside the #WorkWalk the mainstay walks were two local ones that I could access straight from my front door. One was an old favourite devised back in 2011 and first walked on 4th September in that year. This 7.25 miles walk is over mixed terrain which includes tracks, footpaths and bridleways and it also has a couple of up hill sections. In the current period of walking mud features prominently in a few areas. The other local walk is one I originally planned to be around 15 miles but during the first excursion I didn’t feel 100% so I shortened the route. I liked this version, which measures out at just a tad over ten miles, very much so I have done this five times now. In fact it was during the fourth completion of this particular walk that I went through the 200 mile point on Sunday 19th March 2017. If it wasn’t for #walk1000miles I might never have designed this walk which uses the Logan Trail, a disused railway line, just south of Gotham as part of the route.

Lego MiniFig Navigator with snowdrops

Chris Navigator ready to go on another hike to add towards his #walk1000miles challenge

On behalf of Chris Navigator many thanks Country Walking magazine for the #walk1000miles challenge I have not felt fitter in thirty years! Now a fifth of the way towards the target and all I need to do is maintain this momentum.

Country Walking website for #walk1000miles in 2017


Arboretum Nottingham


Dimminsdale Nature Reserve Leicestershire


#walk1000miles Challenge Accepted

#walk1000miles Challenge Accepted


The Subway Arboretum Nottingham January 2017

To walk 1000 miles in a year one has to complete 2.74 miles every day for 365 days. Now just less than 3 miles per day isn’t an impossible task but one that will take dedication to pursue. Country Walking magazine is promoting #walk1000miles in 2017 after the success of this project in 2016. Currently over 24,000 people have signed up with this magazine to complete this distance. One of those is me. In the distant pass I surpassed the 1000 mile target a few times in the 1980’s when this distance was promoted by the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) for it’s members to accomplish. In 1986 I completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks, 23 miles; the Black Mountains Roundabout, 25 miles; the Surrey Summits, 62 miles; the Fellsman Hike, 61 miles; the South Downs 100; and the Lakes Four Three Thousands, 45 miles. So with just these six events I notched up 316 miles in that year. These events coupled with completing several 20 miles plus LDWA walks organised by the High Peak and Sherwood Groups at weekends and personal walks during the week it is easy to see how I hit the 1000 miles in a year target.


Superb weather on my walk through the Arboretum on 5th January 2017

However, in 2017 my time during the week will be limited to what distance I can realistically complete during a lunch hour. For this I worked out a route that I can start and finish at my work place that goes through two green lungs of the City of Nottingham, the Forest Recreation Ground and the Arboretum. Using Ordnance Survey (OS) Digital Maps Premium I could devise a route on their 1:25,000 scale maps and this even provided a target time. The route measured out at 1.93 miles (3.1 km) and the target time was 42 minutes. I have now completed this route 18 times from 3rd January to 10th February yielding 34.74 miles towards the 1000 mile target. My fastest time was 30 minutes and the slowest 36 minutes so every walk was within the OS target time. Public Health England recommend we should be doing a minimum of 30 minutes moderate exercise at least five days per week so this walk is also enabling me to meet these standards.

Further details:

Country Walking magazine #walk1000miles link:


Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) link to Groups and Events:


This challenge promotes physical activity as recommended by Public Health England:


#rEDFE Empowering students’ to find their own way through the trees

#rEDFE Empowering students’ to find their own way through the trees


These notes are based on my presentation delivered at the inaugural researchED Further Education and Vocational Conference held on Saturday 3rd December 2016 at BSix College Hackney London.

Engaging learners through the flip learning method and discovering that there are other ways to deliver land navigation techniques


As a lecturer in adventure activities within the further education sector I am always looking for innovative ways to assist learners in acquiring skills. Whilst using established methods to teach land navigation techniques I am constantly looking at new ideas and developments in teaching this subject. Attending the “Understanding the Art of Flip Learning” seminar at Loughborough University on 2nd September 2014 #flipart14 provided evidence that the flip learning teaching method engaged learners and produced improved outcomes. Five researchers all from a higher education background presented their findings at this seminar on the value of flip learning. The information that follows is based on the presentations from:

Prof. Simon Lancaster University of East Anglia

Dr. David Dye Imperial College London

Dr. Jeremy Pritchard University of Birmingham

During this seminar I was also introduced to a method of teaching through ideas (concepts) rather than teaching to a recipe or to a set of instructions. I found this particularly interesting as it may help to reduce the copy and paste internet sources students use to describe various land navigation functions such as obtaining a six figure grid reference and how to obtain a bearing on a base-plate compass. Coming back enthused I looked at ways in which I could introduce both methods in my delivery to students studying land navigation as part of an Edexcel Level 3 BTEC Subsidiary Diploma in Public Services. There were 56 students on this course and throughout the research stage these students were utilised to test findings in both theoretical and practical land navigation activities.

Flip learning

In essence, “flipped learning” means that students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then use “class” time to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge, perhaps through problem-solving, discussion or debates.


Why flip?

The traditional teaching method in HE is the lecture and this is a didactic process which provides a baseline knowledge and understanding both of which are low levels on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning with the process being passive not active learning. After the lecture students are then encouraged to improve upon this with personal research. However, for flip learning the students attain this base-level before the lecture through completing pre-learning activities leaving the lecture time free to apply this learning. To enhance knowledge flip learning in the HE environment is achieved through students learning through concepts not a set of recipes (ideas v instructions).

Putting flip learning into practice using a HE science module as an example

To ensure that flip learning embraces the learners a task needs to be drawn up which inspires students to look afresh and seek out unseen/unknown problems and suggest solutions on how they might be solved.

Task: Develop a better steel for a road bridge in an extreme environment

Objective: Stuff matters (to the student)

Assessment – link to module’s criteria and on-line content needs to support this

Context – provide a realistic work related scenario

Vocational interaction – skills needed for work in future as a scientist

Results provide evidence that flip learning was found to increase:

Engagement – encouraged wider reading

Performance – grade profile improved

Promoted ownership!

All above provide benefits in future careers as a scientist: “I felt like a real scientist” were remarks by students. I was impressed with this statement and I wanted to make our students feel like real navigators! During the presentation I put forward Roald Amundsen as an example of a competent land navigator as he led his team to the South Pole, the first humans to get there. His team looked at navigation problems on the way back to base with locating supply depots. These had food and fuel, and it was essential for their survival that they found them. They solved this problem by using a new land navigation technique they developed and every supply depot was located without difficulty and the result was all the team arrived back to base safely. This is in contrast to Scott and his team who had made it to the South Pole a month after Amundsen but had problems locating their supply depots on the home bound route with the result that everyone perished. Amundsen’s technique is still used today under the term aiming off. Amundsen is certainly an excellent example of a competent land navigator.


Overall flip learning works in HE taking the following into consideration:

  1. Concept (ideas)
  2. Active learning
  3. Vocational interaction – real issue
  4. Frame the challenge – why they need to know?
  5. Unseen/unknown problems – how are these solved?
  6. On-line interaction – videos on VLE with Q & A

With this underpinning students will hopefully have a “Lasting understanding” and a “Proper understanding.”

Flip learning what I did for Edexcel Level 3 BTEC Public Services:

Using the above summary I devised the following:

  1. Move from teaching recipes to concepts
  2. Active learning and introducing low level practical sessions in preparation for assessment during two full day navigation events – walking and orienteering
  3. Vocational interaction – navigation skills in a public services environment
  4. Framed the challenge – how do we become a competent navigator?
  5. Posed unseen/unknown navigation problems
  6. Generated on-line content via college VLE and Scoop It curation

Link to Scoop It curation: http://www.scoop.it/t/land-navigation

Developed the 4 D’s of Land Navigation model

Teaching through concepts and the development of the 4 D’s of Land navigation Model 

Ideas regarding the key themes of land navigation were based on requirements for an effective navigation system noted by Professor Kate Jeffery in Navigation News Sep/Oct 2014. The key themes being: Where are we? Where are we going to? Which way are we going? How far is it?

These became the 4 D’s: detection, destination, direction and distance.

They then formed the set of concepts. Critical characteristics of these concepts were then formulated and these were then discussed with students and they provided comments. A summary of these characteristics were then defined through personal research and student interaction. The next stage involved developing, refining and collating these critical characteristics.

The 4 D’s of Land Navigation Model – concepts with their associated critical characteristics

4ds-of-navigation-jpegThe 4 D’s of Navigation Model’s concepts integrated into a course delivery scheme (BTEC) – concepts located in bottom left hand corner


Did using flipped learning techniques work?

  1. On-line interaction through VLE with Q&A and links to Scoop It curation only partially successful with 50% of students actively engaged over the entire unit time frame – September to January
  2. However, these students achieved higher grade profiles than those that did not fully engage in pre-learning
  3. This evidence suggests a link in student initiative and their on-going development of independent learning techniques but ……
  4. Result could also relate to students personal interest in topic
  5. Positive on-line feedback with these active learners provided information to develop the 4 D’s navigation model.

Did delivery using concepts work?

  1. Utilising concepts was largely delivered in session time either classroom based or during practical outdoor activities
  2. Nothing like this on the internet so effectively primary research undertaken by both teacher and students – no copy/paste
  3. Land navigation concepts and critical characteristics were developed through student engagement by face to face discussions this resulted in a perceived ownership with 100% involvement
  4. Performance – students developed real life solutions to unseen/unknown problems during practical navigation activities
  5. Used experiential learning method based on concepts they helped develop
  6. This interaction provided evidence for the 4 D’s Land Navigation model to be included in future delivery scheme

Scholarly activity

An article based on the development of the 4 D’s Land Navigation model was published by the Institute of Outdoor Learning in Horizons 73, Spring 2016

Title: Land Navigation – Coaching Concepts


Also I presented findings at the Nottingham Trent University’s Trent Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) Conference held on 5th July 2016



‘Understanding the Art of Flip Learning’ seminar held on 2nd September 2014 at Loughborough University #flipart14

Walter Parker in Concept Formation http://teachinghistory.org/teaching-materials/teaching-guides/25184

Professor Kate Jeffery ‘Navigation Networks in the Brain’ published by the Royal Institute of Navigation in “Navigation News” September/October issue (2014)

More on concepts http://cmap.ihmc.us/docs/concept.php

Students studying the Edexcel Level 3 BTEC Subsidiary Diploma in Public Services

Butterflies and Buzzards

Butterflies and Buzzards

On a local walk there are times when one must expect the unexpected. Observing buzzards is a fine event anytime of the year but finding butterflies in early autumn is a wonderful and surprising experience. The walk around local countryside wasn’t really a planned one just a wander to gain fresh air and go where the mood and the footpath takes us. The landscape was a typical wolds scene with rolling terrain and fields aplenty.


Walking through the next set of fields there was an unmistakable screech and as we looked up there circling in the sky were two buzzards. One was confidently flying within a thermal and the other was struggling to gain any height. The latter looked like an immature bird and was clearly in contact with one of it’s parents. The higher flying bird seemed to be monitoring the performance of the immature one who eventually found a thermal and started soaring. Then Jane saw in a different part of the sky a third buzzard high on a thermal but it was still close by the other two. Perhaps this confirms parent birds taking their offspring on an inaugural flight. Unfortunately, there are limits with the photographic powers of an iPhone so I was unable to take any shots of this activity but it stills features strongly in my mind.


During this summer I was surprised that whilst on walks I didn’t see any Red Admiral butterflies. Then today I saw seven! These were all in one spot and looked liked they had freshly emerged simultaneously and were busy feeding to build up their strength. Jane and I spent several minutes watching in awe of them moving around. I thought that how they posed was straight from a Brooke Bond picture card painted by Richard Ward and a Red Admiral was featured on the front cover of the album. Not giving much hope that the iPhone could focus close enough I was delighted that the results confirmed it would.


On the homebound route Jane observed a pair of goldfinches feeding firstly on the ground in front of us and then moving along a hedgerow looking for food. We decided on taking a track which at its midway point joins a brook and the crossing point is a ford. Fortunately, there is a pedestrian bridge to allow walkers to cross without getting their feet wet or their boots muddy.


The sunlight was hitting the water of the brook and blue sky was reflected from its surface. Looking around at the scene I decided to go low to include the wonderfully shaped pebbles and fallen leaves at the entry point of the ford. When I used an Olympus OM1 film SLR my favourite lens was the Zuiko 28mm f2.8 wide angle lens. Recently I found out that the iPhone SE has a lens focal length equivalent to a 29mm one in the 135 (35mm) film format. So this is one result I was expecting!



Exploring is an innate human condition and today I felt a primeval urge to just explore. No time to set a course or work out a route that needed a map or indeed to jet off to the Alps, the Amazon or the Antarctic! Where I was heading for I didn’t even need to use the car or travel on a bus. All that was required was a short walk as I was heading on a meandering wander around a local country park. The catalyst for this action were rays of sun seeping through the curtains with the promise of a blue sky. This I thought would be a perfect combination to add a dimension when recording, through photography, the fleeting transition of autumn, that of leaves changing colour. Leaping out of the chair, closing the lid to my laptop and grabbing a jacket I went out of the door into autumn.

field-maple-and-ash-in-autumnThis action is also a transition, one of moving from a warm room to outdoors into a temperate climate for which I needed that jacket. Sure it wasn’t cold but cool enough to require an extra shield to allow another layer of air to be trapped. Yes, that jacket was indeed required for yet another transition associated with autumn that of the drop in temperature. Once outside I headed to cross the major road through the village, then down a footpath and over a footbridge which passes a house with an unusual window. To the side of this house the brook flows past and within a few yards I was in the fascinating environment of Meadow Park. From the outset my pace was slow as this wasn’t a physical fitness walk but one where I was engaging my mind with the view to being mentally fit.

oak-leaves-in-autumnThis weekend England was a third of the way though autumn according to the astronomical calendar [1] but there was only a sprinkling of its effects. Just as I hoped my timing was on target to see the cusp of this transition of colour change in the leaves of trees. However, there were also a few trees that had lost some of their leaves and these were spread sporadically on the grass and scattered across the tarmac surface of the pathway. Along this first hedgerow interspaced with trees and shrubs birds were making contact calls. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually see any and with my inability to identify them by their calls they were somewhat a mystery. These bird calls reminded me of Jack Cox discussing natural navigation in “Wayfinding and the Stars” a chapter in his book “Camp and Trek” [2]. In this he recalls when Spencer Chapman was travelling with the Inuit Indians they used the call of male Snow Buntings to locate their way back home after a seal hunting expedition. Male Snow Buntings have their own distinct call and the Inuits were able to differentiate these to enable them to make the correct turn inland from the sea to their camp. Luckily for me I didn’t need to find my way home using bird calls otherwise I would have never got back!

Leaving the tarmac path to venture off-piste I walked from grassland environments into small wooded ones and then realised these were also transitions. Hitting a small path I decided to follow this not knowing where it would take me. Continuing on this path I entered another small wooded area and suddenly I halted. There was something I saw out of the corner of my eye which begged me to stop. Backtracking a few steps I found a path at a right angle to the one I was on. Looking through the trees there was a structure and moving closer to investigate it was found to be a small railway tunnel which took on the appearance of an Inca relic from a rain forest with vines hanging down and other forms of vegetation seemingly growing out of its fabric. No doubt others have been there before me and this was evident by the graffiti on the tunnel walls but this was the first time that I had been here. Later in the day I found by chance the following quote and thought this brings into perspective why we need to explore even places on our doorstep.


“The point of going somewhere like the Napo River in Ecuador is not to see the most spectacular anything. It is simply to see what is there. We are here on the planet only once, and might as well get a feel for the place.”

Annie Dillard

cheery-tree-in-autumnThroughout the day I was constantly making observations with a view to obtaining photographs of not only colour changes to leaves but patterns of leaf fall and the juxtaposition of leaves and trees against the blue of the sky. Also anything else that caused me to stop, frame and visualise an image. These included pathways, close-ups of leaves and autumn fruits.

hawthorn-berries-leavesI so enjoyed a day of exploration that I did another wander the day after. Here though it was a more purposeful venture as the sky was even bluer and I wanted to take a few more photographs especially of that railway tunnel. After this task was accomplished on the homebound route discovery was very much by serendipity. However, perhaps this further exploration was inspired from watching Peter Jackson’s King Kong film, in particular the scenes from Skull Island, the evening before in the hope of finding either a relative of Kong or a dinosaur! The very act of exploring brings out our imagination whether it is to a far corner of our planet or a place close by.


[1] Autumn according to the meteorological calendar begins in September and ends in November. In the astronomical calendar, the beginning of autumn is marked by the autumn equinox which occurs around the 22 September and ends on 20th December.


[2] J. Cox; 1956; Camp and Trek; London; Lutterworth Press

Reference to Spencer Chapman relating to the Snow Buntings is on page 114