Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex

Nature’s Clues and Signs – Black Down

I’m back from a routine ‘sharpener’, one of the short, intense natural navigation exercises that I like to do regularly to keep my hand in – and to have fun! It’s just a case of park the Land Rover, drink in the surroundings and… go!

I’ve been to Black Down on the Sussex/Surrey border quite a few times, as it is a great spot for this sort of small exercise. It is acidic terrain, which gives it a wilder feel and different plant life to my home patch, including a chance to munch on some acid-loving bilberries along the way. And a big plus is that it is ‘open access’, which means you can wander well away from the beaten paths.

The biggest challenge was finding a patch that I wouldn’t recognise, but it is just big enough for that and I set myself a simple goal of finding some big ponds / small lakes 1.4km SW of the parked car. It was very like the ‘Graduation Exercise’ in the online course, as so many of my routine sorties are.

I don’t write up most of these micronavigation sorties, but it yielded such good signs that I thought it would a shame not to.


The first two photos were taken from the same spot, the first looking south, the second looking north.

I’ll let this beautiful clue do most of the speaking for itself.

Looking South – the bell heather flowers are mostly hidden
Looking North – the flowers face us
These stunning small flowers close up. Looking north.


In the online course we looked at how we can use spiders’ webs and their relationship with wind to give us a compass. On this walk, the webs followed the same pattern, I only saw them on the sheltered NE side of the shrubs.

But it was a stronger clue than normal. There had been rain recently and the webs had held on to a lot of raindrops. There is no way these raindrops could have survived on anywhere other than the NE side as there was a wind from the SW that day.

MEMBER’S CONTENT: Clues 3, 2 & 1, plus a Question and Answer and a Quirky Clue.

Available to all members as part of The Collection.

All members have full access to the online course.

To learn more about the course or to sign up please see this page.