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Learning to read signs on a trail

I am thrilled to introduce fellow Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion Glyn Dodwell who has kindly agreed to contribute a guest post to our blog on Tracking Signs. Creating and following track signs is a brilliant outdoors family activity, and a great way to entice kids outside - I can't think of one child who doesn't love following clues, and since it's a visual activity that works with symbols, even the youngest members of your family will be able to join in!

 

Leaving and following tracking signs is a brilliant outdoors family activity, and a great way to entice kids outside - I can't think of one child who doesn't love following clues, and since it's a visual activity that works with symbols, even the youngest members of your family will be able to join in!

Tracking Signs – The art of leaving and/or following the tracks that are left behind to show a route by Glyn Dodwell

It can be important to be able to leave an explicit track that others can follow, and it is an enjoyable skill both to leave and to follow tracking signs. If you are forced to set out on your own, for instance, it might save your life. If something were to happen to you and you weren't able to make it to your destination, someone could follow your trail, and eventually find you.

Below are some of the more frequent signs used in tracking. The first four are the most commonly used ones, and can be made out of anything available including piles of pebbles, sticks, or even by tying the tops of long grass together and pointing the end in the required direction. The X sign is useful as it is a simple sign which can quickly show the path that wasn't taken at a fork in the road, for instance. The final one, Gone Home, marks the end of the trail.

The second row are some of the fancier signs, showing that you have left a message for your trackers, that your party had to split up, that you might have to cross a fallen tree, for instance, or go over water (or just that water is nearby in particularly arid places such as deserts).

There are lots of other signs, but these are the common ones:

 

Leaving and following tracking signs is a brilliant outdoors family activity, and a great way to entice kids outside - I can't think of one child who doesn't love following clues, and since it's a visual activity that works with symbols, even the youngest members of your family will be able to join in!

Why not try linking your new found skills into some form of fun survival activity. This could include finding a casualty, rescuing someone being held captive or simply following a trail to the perfect spot to build a camp. Although this activity could be carried out anywhere, a local woods would make an ideal spot. If you would like to save the tracking signs to take out with you, they can be found in both an A4 version and pinnable version below.

Leaving and following tracking signs is a brilliant outdoors family activity, and a great way to entice kids outside - I can't think of one child who doesn't love following clues, and since it's a visual activity that works with symbols, even the youngest members of your family will be able to join in!

Glyn Dodwell is an OS #GetOutside Champion and blogs at both https://60plushillwalking.wordpress.com/ and http://www.g4cfs.co.uk/Glyn has been a hill-walker for 50 years, walking all over the world but particularly in Wales, Scotland and Lake District. His love for the outdoors and survival started as a young Scout, before he joined the RAF and trained in combat survival. He is also a lovely man who is always up for a chat so do pop over and say hi to him on Twitter.

Having just turned 60 himself, Glyn was surprised to see how little encouragement there is to get the 'older generation' out into the hills. And despite suffering from arthritis, severe pain and a stroke 2 years ago, he is a determined Champion for the greater involvement of over 60's in hill-walking on his blog Hill Walking For The Over 60's - It's better to be on the hill, Than over the hill!

Not content to take it easy, Glyn is also a Radio Amateur and participates in an scheme called Summits-On-The-Air, which involves operating portable radio equipment from the tops of summits using only the equipment carried in your rucksack. You cam learn more about this hobby on his second blog G4CFS – Summits On The Air, Meteors & Satellites.

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16 Comments

  • Reply Michelle

    What fun Sarah. It would be such a lovely way to get the kids outside on a treasure hunt and leaving natures clues. Thanks for getting Glyn to share these, I really enjoyed it.
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    February 8, 2017 at 1:45 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Thanks Michelle, it is such a great way to get kids to open their eyes up to their surroundings 🙂

      February 10, 2017 at 12:15 pm
  • Reply Kerry norris

    This is fab. I didn’t know any of these.

    February 7, 2017 at 8:15 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      It’s great isn’t it Kerry, there’s so many ways kids could use these both in and outside!

      February 10, 2017 at 12:13 pm
  • Reply JanetT

    As my daughter has got older (teens) she’s started to suggest more long walks. You could have knocked me over with a feather – I didn’t expect this from her! She would love to use this printable and make walks more fun. Super idea.

    February 6, 2017 at 10:39 am
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Thanks Janet, it’s great when kids start to recognise for themselves the joy that can be found in being outdoors 🙂

      February 10, 2017 at 12:10 pm
  • Reply Emma

    Glyn sounds like such an inspiration person and I love the idea of trail signs to get more people outside. I think these day it is too easy to stay in, so anything to get people outside is a winner with me!

    February 5, 2017 at 3:17 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      He’s lovely Emma, and an absolute mine of knowledge. It’s a great way to make a walk sound exciting to kids, rather than just saying ‘lets go on a really long walk’ which isn’t always the best way to create enthusiasm in my experience!

      February 10, 2017 at 12:00 pm
  • Reply Lyndsey O'Halloran

    Oh I wouldn’t have had a clue about any of these!
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    February 5, 2017 at 10:26 am
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      It’s great fun isn’t Lyndsey, my kids love any sort of treasure hunts and secret codes so they love this!

      February 10, 2017 at 11:58 am
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