on 15 September 2011
I am head of an Outdoor Pursuits in a secondary school, holding the post for the last 15 years; one of my key activities is training & assessing Duke of Edinburgh Award groups, (Bronze, Silver & Gold) Ten Tors & overseas expeditions, hill Walking, canoeing, kayaking, cycling & skiing. This is the book I've been looking for. It's written in a way that is accessible for both pupils & staff. Beautifully illustrated and with so much detail. It's clear the author has great enthusiasm for the subject and huge experience.
Mr Brotherton has worked with some of the best in the world; he's at the leading edge in this field, mastering their navigational techniques, pioneering new techniques and putting them together for the first time in one book. Anyone who loves the outdoors or works in the outdoor pursuits industry needs to read this book. It will move your navigational skill forward whatever your level.
If Ranulph Fiennes values the author's knowledge & teaching methods we know we can too. I've not been able to put the book down since I bought it.
on 26 February 2013
Nine months ago I asked a friend of mine, who is in the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, to recommend a good book about navigation to get my skills back up to scratch as I was working towards become a Duke of Edinburgh Leader and this book was his recommendation.
He had bought a copy of it after the author had visited his team, to deliver some training and was singing its praises.It is a large tome with 360 pages dedicated to land navigation.
It is very well laid out, with clear chapters, following a logical order to understanding land navigation. The copy is to the point, written in plain English and describes the techniques in everyman's language.
Better still, the quality of the photography, not only in terms of artistic quality, which in itself is very high, but more importantly, in conveying sometimes quite complicated procedures in a visually interesting and engaging manor that makes each technique easy to follow.
The diagrams are reminiscent of Petzl's product diagrams and are truly excellent, again leaving no ambiguity whatsoever as exactly what to do.
I found myself eager to learn more as I progressed through the techniques and even started to absorb the specialist techniques needed for environments such as deserts and jungles, albeit the likelihood of me visiting these regions is remote.
I cannot extol the virtues of this book enough, as one reviewer stated, anyone who trains Sir Ranulph Fiennnes and Mountain Rescue Teams is more than qualified to deliver such a book. However, what makes him unique is the excellent execution of the work, no doubt working with such an equally credible publisher, Harper Collins, making this book unparalleled by any other on this subject.
I now recommend it to all of my DofE students and the feedback I receive from them is the same as my friends was to me nine months ago.
If your serious about learning to navigate properly go out and buy a copy, you won't be disappointed!
on 20 February 2012
Lyle Brotherton stated on page 192 of his book, the `Ultimate Navigation Manual' that, "my raison d'être in writing this work has been to make passage on foot safer for anyone, anywhere and at anytime in the world". In my view this means that precise and meticulous planning followed by safety-conscious execution are essential in order to become, as stated on the cover of the book, " . . . an expert navigator".
Although I have been walking in the fells and mountains of Cumbria and many other places throughout the world for 50+ years, I have learned a great deal from this book and I would recommend it to anyone who is serious about improving their navigation skills. In my view, it really is the ultimate navigation manual.
However, what bothers me is that I believe the same principles of precision, planning and execution are extremely important when it comes to writing/editing a book. Unfortunately, this is not the case with parts of this book (especially the first half) and you have to ask the question: what part did editors or proofreaders play in the production of this book? Without giving an extensive list, the errors I found include, for example, getting the cardinals of the compass wrong on page 57 of the book (where the diagram shows NNW twice rather than also showing NNE), and missing out numbers in a list on page 155 (the instructions jump from point 6 to point 8 - is there a step missing or has point 8 been incorrectly numbered?). What a great pity that the publishers, Collins, do not appear to have heard the expression, "to spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar".
Professor Jim Maxon
20th February 2012
on 14 September 2011
I am responsible for a large department where land navigation is part of the core syllabus; as routine we receive copies of every new publication on this subject and frankly, other than Uli Benker's book 'GPS auf Outdoor-Touren', there has been nothing innovative for years. So, when the Ultimate Navigation Manual arrived on my desk, I was expecting just another me-too, particularly as I had never heard of its author; how wrong I was! This work is outstanding and we have decided to make it required reading for all our students.
Existing map and compass methods are brought right up to date, enhanced and clarified by great photography; there are also many valuable new techniques, a 'must' for any navigaor's toolkit. The satnav section cuts through the jargon (prior to reading this book we referred to this technology erroneously as GPS); the author's obvious in-depth technical knowledge is written in an accessible and user-friendly style.
on 23 December 2011
Richly illustrated and logically organized, Lyle Brotherton's Ultimate Navigation Manual is undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive offerings on the subject currently available. If you have any love for wandering in the wide open spaces of the world, then you really should own (and read!) a copy of this book.
However, it is worth pointing out that Brotheton developed this as a field manual (p.14) rather than a general treatise on the subject of navigation, so you won't find any whimsical discussions on Naismith or Tranter within these covers. As a result, in places the book reads like a business memo - full of bullet points and sentence fragments - which might be useful for instruction but is not always enjoyable to read. That said, the format does provide outstanding clarity on the technical processes of navigation and thus it's easy to forgive Brotherton's style and choice of presentation. What is not (perhaps) so easy to forgive is the typos and errors that pop-up throughout the book that interrupt delivery and can frustrate the learning process. There are also references to smartphone applications and websites that no longer seem to exist (p.256) - a sure sign that the author has not fully considered the ephemeral nature of technology.
As a matter of course, it's often easier to criticize than it is to acknowledge the true value of another's efforts: it would be an egregious wrong to focus on the shortcomings of The Ultimate Navigation Manual without emphasising just how good it is. There can be little doubt that Brotherton is an expert in his field and that he has a gift for teaching; no matter how experienced a navigator you might be, there is almost certainly something to be learned from this book. If future editions are edited to remove the minor irritations, this truly will be The Ultimate Navigation Manual - until then, it's only excellent!
on 4 November 2011
If you are going to write a book called The Ultimate Navigation Manual you have to expect it to come under some close scrutiny. This book, by Mountain Rescue team member Lyle Brotherton aims to cover every aspect of land navigation, gathering existing common training with best practice from various military and SAR teams across the world. I first learned of the book on an outdoors website, where its merits and shortcomings were being discussed. My interest was sparked, and I sent off for a copy. Mr Brotherton obviously knows his stuff, but there is the odd part which is either confusing or wrong. Not wrong in a "Trails magazines's infamous route off Ben Nevis" wrong. More minor continuity errors than anything. Occasionally there are paragraphs which contradict something already stated elsewhere in the manual, such as the contour interval on 1:25,000 OS maps as being 10m, then in another section 5m (in fact it is mainly 10m, and 5m in areas where there is so little difference in height that 10m contours would not provide enough detail). On page 66 in the expert facts section, it states that declination is known in the military as Grid Magnetic Angle (MVAR). I was a map reading instructor with the army and had never heard the term MVAR. Ever. It is not contained in any of the issue manuals. I googled it and eventually found one very obscure reference to the phrase. The British Army uses the term GMA, Grid Magnetic Angle, which is the angle of declination between magnetic north and the grid.
One completely wrong fact is that "gates are not marked on OS Landranger or Explorer maps". Gates may be marked on OS Landranger maps, although not all are, and you will find the symbol on the map legend. As I say not serious mistakes, just enough to keep pedants like myself busy for a while!
There are some minor inconsistencies, such as the use of bold grey type within paragraphs, which are meant to refer you to the index. Some have the page number listed next to them, others don't, and in at least one case the point referred to isn't indexed. These are more proof reading or publishing errors, and are niggles which in time will be picked up and corrected. Don't however let these moans put you off, this is after all the first edition. I'm overwhelmingly confident there will be a second and a third edition, because once tidied up this will be the bible of land navigation. From the basics of what is a map, to datums, compasses and bearings, ancillary equipment to satellite navigation systems and computer mapping, I can think of very little which is not covered. There are some very good sections on specialist navigation techniques, and while I would perhaps argue with their order of preference (I would rank night navigation first, over all others, but that's just my opinion) you can't say that there are any glaring omissions. It's also very welcoming that Mr Brotherton seriously recommends the use of satellite navigation. Many people who ask for advice on which unit to buy are often sneeringly told to learn to use a map and compass instead. That's not the case here, with almost everything (and I say almost only to cover myself) covered, right down to which type of batteries should be used. For many years I have been advocating Geocaching to anyone wishing to get to become proficient with satellite navigation units, and it's good to see it rates a mention here, as it is undoubtedly an aid to learning.
The author is obviously aiming this at an international market, and the occasional references to azimuths show that, a term more familiar on the American side of the Atlantic. That's nothing surprising when you look at his track record, having taught search and rescue techniques in over 24 different countries! There is, what appears to me to be a degree of product placement in the book, with repeated plugs for a particular brand of compass and a particular brand of rather expensive binocular most apparent. Likewise it is the highly praised compasses one deficiency which has probably led to the development of Mr Brothertons take on the romer, which he sells from the website which is associated with the book. The book is designed in part to be used with the website. The website is still in its infancy and new content is continually being added. From here, amongst other things, you can download a programme of activities which you can use in conjunction with the book as a guide for beginners. Video content is used to explain some of the techniques in the book, and you can use the forum to contact the author.
There is nothing earth shattering in the book. Almost everything is available elsewhere, spread across a variety of titles. What the writer has done is bring all these techniques together in one volume, and explained them with clear and easy to understand diagrams and pictures. Whether you are a complete beginner, an occasional dabbler or an old hand this book has something to offer you. If it doesn't, your name is probably Lyle Brotherton.
on 5 July 2015
I bought the Kindle version of this book so my review score above is based on this specific version.
Review of the Book 5 Star. Great information. I found it easy to work with and have applied many of the techniques making me feel more confident when I am out walking on the hills.
Review of the process that created the Kindle version 1 Star.
Many pages are cut short, information is missed, paragraphs and sections do not follow / read correctly, pictures are small and cannot be expanded to read the detail.
I would buy the paper book but not the Kindle version
on 5 March 2016
This is the civillian book of the uk army manual. Lyle teaches SAS ect to heavy duty for scouts but ok for hillwalkers. Limited section on mills compass but this is civillian. I got the ebook edition on a cheap amazon deal, there are rendering problems with this book as with all map ebooks and picture books. I will be buying the paper version of the book when I get the cash.
on 21 September 2011
Like other reviewers I was expecting something good, turns out to be absolutely brilliant. We teach youngsters at an outward bound school and the Beginners section to navigation is spot on, the kids love it. Best part is that in the Advanced and Expert sections I too am learning new tricks. The book follows a logical and well thought out learning system, with great illustrations and photography that brings the text alive. The additional chapter on how to get help in an emergency is startling, we had never heard of half of this stuff before and it is essential knowledge for both our staff and pupils.
on 23 February 2016
I am part of a very active Scout & Explorer Scout group and we camp and hike all around the the UK and parts of Europe. We also do many district events involving night hikes and the like.
This book covers literally everything you need / want to know about navigation and related subjects such as how to use GPS etc., starting with the basics and working through to advanced levels that you didn't even know about.
OK, so we all think we can use a map and compass right? I'm still ploughing my way through the book but already I have learnt quite a few things just from the basic section, and I've been using maps and compasses for years!
I think that some of the chapters go beyond what I need for the time being, but it's good to have them there in case any of the Scouts start asking me awkward questions.
It's a well written, definitive guide to navigation covering old, tried and tested techniques right up to modern technology and best practices.