Five top tips for navigation on the trails

New to trail running or mountain biking and worried about how to find your way – or your way back? Girls Run The World reveal some top tips for self-navigation

Have faith in your watch

‘My sense of direction is terrible and I always plan and map a route before I leave. I’ve also invested in a Garmin 945, where you can input routes and it will tell you when and where to turn.

Even if you’re not following a set route, the GPS enables you to see where you are and how to get back to your start point, with a handy return to start option.’ Helen Robinson, @mad_queen_mab.

Try to count your steps

‘Know how many strides it takes you to run to each turn point. And how many strides per 100m whether on the hill, flat, uphill. That way you can accurately measure the distance you’ve travelled.’ Abi Bell.

Pay attention to your surroundings

‘Pay attention to gates, hidden stiles, signposts, copses tress and landmarks that you pass. I’ve missed so many simply by not looking closely enough but these help you to navigate on the way out and back to your starting position. Also, it’s important to always keep one eye on your map (Explorer Maps have more details and might be easier to follow) as it’s easy to just run and forget to pay attention to the map route.

You can also make your own map online, centring on the area you are running, which saves you carrying around 3 or 4 different ones.’ Christine Ballinger.

Allow yourself to get lost

Be prepared to go get lost in order to learn an area, if you can do it safely. I often try a route if I am confident and I have plenty of water, snacks, daylight, a torch and I’m prepared to get back by retracing my steps. But make sure you pay attention because a route can look totally different when you do it in reverse! Rachel Allison (@rallison29)

Rely on an app or map

‘We’ve guided women all over the trails on our Run Wild trail running and yoga retreats and workshops. For that, we’ve used paper maps to design routes, backed up by good technology.

Our favourite apps are Outdoors GPS. and Komoot. Just make sure you have enough battery on your phone, and use your brain too. It’s easy to be starting at a signpost telling you where to go but ignoring it as you’re so busy looking at the app!’ Rachael Woolston, Founder of GRTW.