What do you do if you find yourself lost in the countryside with no mobile phone, no map and nobody for company? Learn to navigate using the natural landscape.

Where in the world am I?

If you're lost in a town or countryside—DON’T PANIC!

All you have to do to get home is be aware of the landscape, says explorer Tristan Gooley, author of The Natural Navigator. He’s quick to emphasise that it’s not a survival manual. “The skills are valuable because they reconnect you to the natural world,” he says. “They help you enjoy your surroundings, even in a town.”

Here are some tips to enrich your life—or even save it:

 

Look at the sky 

The sun moves at 15 degrees an hour from east to west, though not in a straight line. At 12 noon GMT it’s roughly south.

 

If it’s overcast, think about the direction of the wind 

If you were walking into it when you started, turn round so it’s against your back. If you can’t remember, look at the plant life. In the UK, the prevailing wind blows from the south-west, so hedges and trees bend to the north-east.

 

Find the tallest tree

Is it lusher on one side? That’s likely to be south. Is there any moss? That may be north.

 

Sniff the air

Sniff the air to sense the way out of a wood. Sunlight at the margins warms the plants, creating a rich smell.
 

Go puddle-hunting

A north-south path dries at roughly the same rate. But on an east-west one, puddles often collect on the shadiest (southern) side.
 

Take a look at your surroundings

Satalite dishes face south south east

In towns, satellite dishes are usually angled south-south-east, tennis courts are laid out north to south to minimise glare and south-facing paintwork fades fastest. If you’re searching for the west end, head into the wind. The less desirable part of town is usually in the east—it receives the full force of city smells.
 

Time to go home? 


Image Source: Jason Batterham // Shutterstock

In towns, satellite dishes are usually angled south-south-east, tennis courts are laid out north to south to minimise glare and south-facing paintwork fades fastest. If you’re searching for the west end, head into the wind. The less desirable part of town is usually in the east—it receives the full force of city smells.
 

Time to go home? 

Follow the crowds

Follow the crowds to the station.

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