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Open the Map Course

1 DayOutdoor Skills




All Year


Qualified Instructor


North Downs, South Downs


Downland, Forest, Heathland, Meadow

Walking Days



Couples, Experienced Walkers, Family, Group, Solo Walkers, Beginner


  • MTA Qualfied Instructor
  • Learn a new outdoor skill
  • Be confident to explore the countryside
  • Stunning countryside locations
  • Use of maps and compasses included
  • Cotswold Outdoor Discount

A practical one day introduction to map reading on either the South Downs or North Downs, aimed at those with little or no experience of using a map and compass.

Held in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, the aim of this fun introductory navigation course is to enable you to navigate safely and competently and be confident enough to start exploring on your own - we want you to enjoy learning those new essential skills!

Learning is informal and relaxed, with plenty of practical experience out in the countryside, within a small group of up to 8 people. We cover around 4 to 6 miles each day, following paths across farmland, valleys, riversides, woodland, hills and downland in the Sussex and Surrey countryside. The locations we use are easily accessible from London and are convenient for public transport if required.

Our Skills Academy has been providing courses for individuals and groups for over ten years. We pride ourselves on providing the very best customer service and individual attention to ensure our guests get the maximum benefit from our courses. We have a huge amount of experience and expertise in providing outdoor skills courses, and we are recognised as one of the leading providers in the region - please do take a look at our Testimonials

Learning Outcomes:

  •   Introduction to the map
  •   Understanding scales and symbols
  •   Orientate the map with and without a compass
  •   A basic understanding of contours and matching landforms
  •   Measuring distance on and off the map
  •   Grid references
  •   Direction of travel and land features
  •   Introduction to setting compass bearings
  •   Choosing simple, safe routes
  •   Understanding the Countryside Code and access rights
  •   Understanding the weather
  •   The right equipment
  •   Safety outdoors

Duration: One full day (typically 09.30-16.30)

Location: West Sussex section of the South Downs near Arundel or the Surrey Hills near Dorking

Course is limited to 8 participants

Please note - we run an Open the Map course once a month, but many are now fully booked.  Only the dates which have availability are showing.

Your course is led by an extremely experienced and qualified outdoor instructor.  They are a qualified to a minimum MTA Mountain Leader level and also have extensive experience leading and instructing in the area. All our instructors are also outdoor first aid qualified and DBS checked.

Please organise your own accommodation for the course, if required as well as a packed lunch.  Use of maps and compasses are included for the duration of the course.