Trail in Namibia Trail in Namibia

Sunrise and Sunset Direction

It would be true to say that I would not be writing this blog if the sun rose in the same place each day.

In the spring of 2008 I was busy trying to work out whether there was any point in trying to make a living by teaching natural navigation, or not. Whether, perhaps, that was the stupidest idea I had ever had, a competition with some depth in the field.

The problem was that there was no ‘sensible’ way of deciding whether to go ahead with it or not. There was no point bouncing the idea off family, bank managers, priests or ouija boards. The answers that would come back would just be different flavours of, ‘Mmmmmm….’.

The decision was made when I asked a professional pilot friend a couple of questions.

‘Jim, bear with me here.’

‘OK, mate.’

‘Jim, where does the sun rise each day?’

‘In the east.’

‘Yes. Now, Jim, tell me everything you know about where the sun rises each day.’

There was a short pause.

‘I just did, mate.’

At that point the decision was made. Somebody needed to get evangelical about this subject, whether it was sensible to do so or not, and that somebody might as well be me. I registered the domain name,, that evening.

To this day I get great pleasure whenever someone thanks me for helping them reconnect with the sun as it rises and sets each day. At the end of one course, a man in his late seventies, who had seen an awful lot of the world in his time, approached me. He said, out of earshot of the others,

‘I’m so glad I didn’t see out this fair innings of mine without working out where the sun rises each day!’

That moment alone made the whole endeavour worthwhile. I am very grateful that there have been quite a few others.

Animation of approximate sunrise directions

There is a website that can help in this quest to reconnect with the sun. It is rather beautiful in its simplicity. It allows you to work out the sunrise and sunset direction from anywhere on Earth at any time of the year. I love it. Here it is:

Looking at a website is not the same as feeling the rays on your face. But it does allow you to travel the world over the course of the year, all before a cup of tea has run dry, which holds its own small magic.

I’ve now released an online natural navigation course, that teaches you how to use the sun to navigate. It also has lessons on how to find your way using the stars, moon, plants, animals and even towns. It’s called The Beginner’s Guide to Natural Navigation

All of my books include ideas and techniques related to using the sun to find direction. The Natural Navigator (2010) explains from basics how we can navigate using the sun and Wild Signs and Star Paths (2018), has one whole chapter dedicated to an expedition I led across Crete using no instruments and relying almost entirely on the sun.