Walking in England we had always used a map and compass. When we moved to Spain we quickly discovered that the local maps are not much use for the sort of cross country walking we do. We built up a collection of walks by joining walks led by more experienced walkers, taking notes to supplement our memory and finally doing the whole walk on our own by memory alone. Most of our weekly walks were led by someone else, so it was not necessary to memories all of them. However since starting our Thursday Explorers group either David or I must lead all of the walks. We aim to offer a different walk each week, so we need a selection of about 30. I can lead about 18 walks from memory, and David another 14. Then there are another 13 which we feel we could lead after a recce.
The prospect of leading 30 walks by memory alone is pretty daunting. So I decided to use a hand held satnav to help me out. I spread the word that I would like one for Christmas, and on the day found that Father Christmas had left me a Garmin eTrex10. This is the most basic satnav, but I feel it would be quite sufficient for my limited requirements. I quickly found that the instructions which come with the device are very basic, and even the user manual not very comprehensive or user friendly. In addition most people use a satnav in conjunction with a map, but that would not work here in Spain.
Fortunately Nick, one of our Thursday Explorers group, is something of an expert. He has recorded all of the walks he has done with us so far. David and I were very impressed when he did the Gata walk in November for the first time. He recorded the route, went back a few days later on his own and completed the walk using his satnav. Had he not offered to teach me how to use it I would not have undertaken the project at all.
Our first walk of the year was a recce of our Pinos Fossil Walk, a walk usually led by David. I have done it many times, and was quietly confident that I could find the route on my own. Nick and Janet joined us so that he could help me to record the route on my new satnav. I am not sure whether it was due to the extra pressure of learning how to use the satnav, or whether I was just over confident of my ability to find the route, but we had to abandon the recce because I could not find one junction. It is the first time in ten years of walking in Spain that this has happened. I was just glad that it had not happened when I was leading the whole group!
After a sleepless night during which I went over the route again and again in my head, I decided that we had abandoned the walk too soon. I thought that I had missed the junction, but I now decided that we had turned back before we reached it. Next day Jan and I returned to Pinos. This time we walked the route in reverse, and found the junction without any trouble. I also recorded the route again, which gave me valuable practice in using the satnav. Not the best of starts, but one which convinced me that if I am to lead those walks normally led by David, let alone the others which we both need to recce, I will need more than my memory to rely on.