Navigating with Nature

One of the keys to navigating with nature is appreciating scale. It is vital that we do not spend too much time focusing too narrowly or widely. In this photograph, taken in the South Downs on Monday, our eyes are naturally led to the fallen tree. It would be very easy to miss both a bigger clue to direction and a smaller one.

The heart of the tree is marginally closer to our side of the tree, which hints that we are south of it, looking north.

If we peer through the undergrowth and bare tree branches we can see that the land falls away to lower country in the distance. The South Downs are a predominantly east/west range of hills and so any time that we can see a long way down into lower land it suggests that we are looking north or south. The hills are also close to the south coast, so if we can see a long way but cannot see the sea then it would suggest we are looking north.

After seeing such a large, panoramic clue it is important to stay aware, keeping the senses alert and to zoom back in to the smaller details. The grasses are bent over away from us and to the right. Likely pushed over by a southwesterly wind, further confirming that we are indeed looking north.