My idea to write a book about land navigation all started back in 2005 after visiting an old friend and former colleague of mine, Sergeant Brad Hand, United States Marine Corps. We were hiking through the redwood forests in northern California and Brad used a navigational technique that I had never seen before. When I returned to Scotland I mentioned this technique to my fellow MRT (Mountain Rescue Team) team members, none of whom had heard of it either, so I came up with a cunning plan.

I wrote to other MRTs and asked if I could spend time with them, navigating with them and hopefully learn new ways of performing either established techniques or completely new ones. This would then be written up into a photocopied booklet to be available for all MRTs. It was also a brilliant excuse to my wife, Judy, for me to have extended holidays in wonderful part of the world, this was the cunning plan!

Over the next six years I did indeed discover variations upon conventional techniques and even a few other new ones and by default, not by design, started to compile a manual of world best practice. I got to meet and work with some of the finest people on this planet, one of whom, the wonderful Marjorie Calder, changed the publication from a photocopied booklet to a book published by Harper.

Harper Collins are the world’s foremost book publishers and through them ‘The Ultimate Navigation Manual’ has gone on to sell tens of thousands more copies than I had ever imagined possible, both in this country and many abroad.

Enter stage left a member of Glossop MRT, with over two decades of experience (at the time), the indomitable Paul Hitchen. Paul approached me at the UK MRT National Conference, where I was presenting, and suggested we could work together in some sort of charity dedicated to sharing navigational best practice with the public.

The charity idea worked well because Paul feels strongly about protecting our countryside’s environment and I believe passionately in helping youngsters who have got off to the wrong start in life and The Ultimate Navigation School charity was born!   The Ultimate Navigation School is a charity registered in Scotland (SCIO SC04864).

The purposes of The Ultimate Navigation School as a charity is to:

  • Create awareness of the need for safe and competent navigation in the countryside
  • Provide education, in the form of personal instruction, teaching micronavigation at various levels: from basic, suitable for everyone, to advanced levels, designed for search & rescue professionals.
  • Support nominated charities through direct payment of all profits from The Ultimate Navigation School engaged in:
  • Directly involved in the physical care of the countryside, bothy, paths, hills and mountains in the UK
  • Assisting disadvantaged young people, 18-24 years, who have a criminal record and are being rehabilitated back into society.
Lyle Brotherton

Co-Founder of the Ultimate Navigation School (with Paul Hitchen) and author of the Harper Collins Ultimate Navigation Manual