In the final part of the navigatiuon series, ANDY PULLAN goes back to basics and reiterates the various styles of navigation.

To bring this series of navigation articles to a conclusion I would like to summarise each “traditional” technique of plotting instructions on a map, as well as passing on some final tips to aspiring navigators out there.

Traditional plotting instructions

All of the navigation types found below will be regularly encountered during events with map based navigation, it is useful to be familiar with them all:

Shortest Route

Before starting it is important to realise when a route is not specified in detail, the correct route is the shortest route by usable roads. These will be coloured roads or whites, depending on the route instructions. Unless stated otherwise all of the plotting information should be completed in the order specified.

Map References

A six-figure map reference defines a square 100m (metres) to the East and 100m to the North of the actual point. Fractions (i.e. ½, ¼) may be used to more accurately define the point but it still defines a square 100m to the east and 100m to the North of the actual point. These may have directions of approach and depart which need to be adhered to.


Map Grid Squares and Lines

The grid squares on the OS Landranger (1:50,000) maps are 1km x 1km. Both grid squares and grid lines are used for navigation. Grid squares are identified by four figures, these are the horizontal and vertical gridlines that define on particular box on the map. Grid lines are identified by two figures that may refer to either vertical or horizontal lines.

Out of Bounds Areas

These are places that you MUST NOT visit on the event, often called blackspots. By defining which way you can’t go, it should leave only one possible correct route to take, or it’s the shortest route. These can be portrayed in different methods, such as whole grid squares, parts of grid squares and circles around grid squares.


Jogularities provide you with all of the information required to complete the correct route, there is no need to use your map. They will tell you where every junction is and which way to turn – either with written / descriptive instructions or using tulip diagrams.

Spot Heights

Spot heights are small dots with an altitude above sea level alongside. Only focus on spot heights which have a dot on the road, all others can be ignored.

On a spot height section, you must pass though the spot heights listed and you should not pass through any other spot heights. Ignore spot heights close to, but not on, rally route and those indicated by the symbol for Triangulation Pillar, even if they appear to plot on a road.


Herringbones are a very simple method of defining the route, once you understand how they work. Imagine the rally route has been drawn on the map and, at each junction, an additional little bit of road leading away from the route has also been drawn in. The main line of the herringbone (the spine) is the rally route that you want to take and all the additional lines up and down off the spine are the roads that you need to ignore or ‘leave alone’.

The herringbone drawing that you are given is as though that route with its additional little bits of road at each junction has been lifted up off the map and pulled tight like a piece of string – e.g.:



So, when you are given a herringbone, the route that you need to take appears as a straight line, showing the roads to miss on the left and right above and below the line. The way to convert the herringbone to a route on your map is to describe to yourself what you see on the herringbone and transfer that to the map.

For example with the herringbone above, reading it from left to right, you say, in sequence, to yourself:

1. “Straight on at crossroads”. Easy! And then you mark that on your map.

2. “Ignore a left”. The next junction on the map is a T-junction so to ‘ignore a left’ you need to turn right at that T-junction. Again, mark that on the map before doing the next piece.

3. “Ignore a right”. The next junction is actually a road on the right so you need to go straight on.

4. “Ignore two roads on the left”. The next junction is a cross-roads. So to ignore two roads on the left you have to turn right at the cross-roads.

5. “Ignore a left”. This should now be clear; you keep straight on – but watch for occasions where you are on a major road the road on the left is actually the continuation of the major road and you have to actually turn off it to ‘keep straight on’.

London Rally Map

These are points provided on a printed map beforehand which must be visited in a pre-set order, possibly with approaches and departs. This style of marked map presentation was most commonly associated with the renowned London Rallies of the 1950s and 60s – hence the name. These points may be provided on different types of maps, its usually useful to copy the location of these onto your own map but always check which map you should be using to plot the correct map- theirs or yours!

If you feel confused or unsure about any types of these navigation then don’t worry, HERO are launching a table top championship (Link to page) which will utilise these “traditional” plotting techniques, so you can get used to using and learning them in the comfort of your own home!

To conclude a few final thoughts from me, there is no substitute for experience; get out on as many events as you can, I always learn something on a rally and I usually learn the most when I make a mistake, just make sure you learn from it! Competing on a variety of events is always useful too, having a wide skill set is desirable and experience in the dark is a very valuable thing – everything becomes that bit more difficult for a navigator in darkness.

Get your driver involved to help share the workload, if you’ve got a lot of plotting to do focus on that and let your driver take a lead on the timing- although you might not get 0’s and 1’s this way, the important thing is going the right way. Timing is very much a secondary thing.

Don’t be afraid to ask other navigators questions if you’re unsure about anything, chances are if you’re struggling to understand something then others around you are too. On that topic to conclude this series of articles we are running a Q & A session, if there are any question you have (navigation based) then we will try and answer them as best and as soon as possible! Please send them to

I hope to see you out on an event soon.



This month, MARTYN TAYLOR looks at setting tripmeters and getting yourself out of sticky situations on regularitites

I want to dispel the myth that tripmeters are difficult to set up, with the vast array that’s available these days, I’m going to concentrate on what is arguably the most popular unit on the market, the Brantz range of digital meters.

Measured Mile Set up

Manufacturers instructions (For a Brantz Meter)

  •    If the tripmeter is to measure in hundredths of a Kilometre/Mile the push-wheel switch needs first to be set to 100
  •    At the start of an accurately measured Kilometre/Mile, press the Zero button to ensure the counter reads 00.00.
  •    Drive the measured distance and stop accurately at the end of the distance – Note the figure that comes up on the readout. (This is the Calibration Figure for this particular vehicle)
  •   Enter this figure into the calibration push-wheel switches on the front of the tripmeter. e.g. If the readout is 05.67 set the push-wheel switches to 567.
  •   The accuracy can be confirmed by re-running the measured distance after zeroing the readout, the meter should read exactly 01.00
  •   If several wheel sizes and gearings are available for the vehicle; repeat the calibration

That’s the manufacturer’s way but this is my personal way of setting up a trip, other navigators will have other ways of doing it, but here is the way that works for me.

When you start a measured mile leave the calibration figure where it is. If it’s a brand new trip use a number in the middle of the range i.e.300.

Now you want to use the longest distance possible, so if that includes the tulips back to the hotel gate, that’s fine as long as you pick a finish point that is not open to interpretation. So a sign on the left is a good one, but a wide open junction bell mouth is not ideal. Tell your driver to sit in the middle of the lane when driving, don’t cut right hand corners, swerve round parked cars or pull up onto the verge to answer the phone – this all changes the distance travelled. Also remember that if you have to reverse the sensor, it doesn’t know you’re going backwards it keeps counting forward!

A little bit of arithmetic now. Drive the directions the organisers have provided you with in the measured distance instructions and then note the overall reading on your trip meter. The distance you have and the distance the organisers show is likely to be different, you can work out the calibration figure by following the instructions below.


Distance driven on trip is 5.76

Organisers reading is 5.90

Calibration figure is 300


Now the next bit is down to personal preference, personally I would round the figure down to 292 as my calibration figure as I prefer the trip to read very slightly fast and then trim to the correct distance. But if you used 293 it would be more accurate to the true measured distance. Once you have chosen your figure input it into the Brantz and check your trip and repeat the above process until you’re happy.

So that’s how I set up a trip….

A lot of the navigators in the know also use the following method. On the organiser’s measured distance sheet, look for the ‘start of measured distance’ and ‘end of measured distance’ markers, this will give you a total distance (for the sake of this article, we’ll use 5.67 miles or kilometres). In the calibration figure push button meter on the right use the distance given (5.67) and input this into the trip meter as 567. Be careful that you read from the start an end of measured distances only though as some events will include extra instructions with a total mileage to get you to the start or rally HQ!

Get to the start of measured distance board use a mark on your car to line up with it as a rule, it’s better for the navigator to do this as we all know drivers can get easily distracted… Drive the route described by the organisers and follow their instructions exactly, do not touch the trip meter at all!  As you come up to the end of measured distance board stop with the same mark that you used on the start of measured distance board in line again and record the number that is shown on the TOTAL distance meter, (this will vary from vehicle to vehicle) and enter this into the push-button meter on the right where you originally inputted 567 previously.

Drive the measured distance again and check all is in order; it should be pretty accurate now. Setting your trip meter up over a longer distance should mean it will be more accurate, you can trim it later in the day, I’ll explain more about that later.


How to get yourself out of trouble…..

 This is a bit of a guide to help you sort out problems mid regularity when everything has gone wrong. These are simple solutions to some problems you might get on a standard regularity section – most of these comments don’t apply to jogularity.

WARNING: if you haven’t read the previous articles and understood them, this won’t be any help to you!

Trip anomalies

If you’re having trouble with your trip.

  • Try recalibrating your trip on a road section, using tulips or any form of organizers reading from a section of road.
  • On some longer events tyre wear can affect your trip readings, so recalibrate your trip once a day.
  • If you find you’re  constantly early on regularity sections,(assuming you have had a clean run on the sections) try reducing your trip calibration figure to counter the problem.
  • If you find you’re constantly late, this is assuming you have had a clean run on the sections. Try increasing your trip calibration figure to counter the problem. Don’t over compensate though, one or two clicks should make the difference.

Timing point muddles

  • If you miss setting a watch going as you enter a timing point. Wait until you exit the control (remember to zero your intermediate trip) look at the time card, now look at the seconds entered by the marshal. Use that to set a new watch going one minute after leaving the previous control. This will get you back on track and you can read the tables as normal. But remember to add a minute onto your tables when you read off your time intervals!
  • If you miss zeroing a trip in a timing point. DON’T ZERO IT, set off from the control and using your second watch (the time from the start of the regularity) get yourself back on time by reading the tables as if you had not visited a timing point. Once you’re back on time, zero the trip and the watch simultaneously and carry on as usual. (This is assuming there hasn’t been a speed change at the timing point)

Speed change problems

  • If a clock is started late, don’t zero everything in a blind panic. Set a second watch running as soon as you can. Calculate or estimate to the best of your abilities how late the second watch was started. Then add the time calculated to the second watch. Get yourself back on time, then zero everything and carry on as usual.
  • If you come into an intermediate control and forget to zero the clock, leave the control, look at your time card for the time of day seconds you were issued. Then exactly one minute after you left the control start a new watch off, continue as normal but ignoring the minutes.
  • If you miss a speed change all together, get your driver to slow down or speed up to counter the problem. Then work through the above two points.  Try and figure out off your tables how early or late you are, then get your driver to match that time in early or late time, zero everything and carry on.

Now time for a story, one year on the Winter Trial I left a time control on the last day and we had a self-start regularity five minutes down the road. When I got to the start of the regularity section I realised I didn’t have the piece of paper which we were meant to be issued with all the speed changes for the regularity. What I did was take a look at the roads on the map and took a judgment call rather than guess, I ran the entire section at 26 mph. So while other people were battling with 12 speed changes ranging between 22 and 30mph I kept my nose clean went the right direction and ended up getting a ninth best on the regularity. The moral of the story is don’t panic, use every piece of information you have at the time – and sometimes a little gut instinct – you might be surprised how close you can get……

If you feel everything has gone wrong,  trip, watch running backwards, got stuck briefly in a field and have no idea how to sort out the two speed changes you have missed. Just zero everything at the next control don’t worry about it and carry on.

That’s all from me for this month, if you have any questions you’d like myself or Andy to answer, email and we’ll answer them for the next newsletter.



Andy Pullan looks at Jogularity and Speed Tables in more detail this month.

Speaking to frequent competitors about what they want to gain from these articles – and what I hope I can convey – here is some more information on timing. It was mentioned to me in conversation last week that on a regularity event the difference between an expert navigator and a master navigator is timing. This month I’ll cover various topics which will hopefully teach you a few tricks and give you a bit more confidence with timing on regularity events.

From last month’s article I realise that we focused all of our efforts on regularities that were based on speed tables. A lot of HERO events are run on jogularities, where crews are provided with the exact time to be at landmarks. This cuts out a lot of hardwork for navigators as we are told what time to be everywhere, but a couple of years ago I couldn’t fathom out why I was consistently dropping a couple of seconds more than the top boys. After a bit of head scratching and after doing well in on some jogularity based events the following procedure works well for me, give it a try:

Calling out what the jogularity instruction is early always helps, for example “footpath sign on the right”

I then count down from 10 to the ideal time to be at said footpath sign. This means that when cleverly sited controls are hidden around corners/ just after junctions the driver always knows how they are doing against time and I don’t have to look down at the roadbook, back up at the clock then realise we’re already in the control anyway….

Doing this consistently throughout the event pays dividends and is how masters can gain those precious few seconds of experts… Other important things to look out for on jogularity events are:

  • Where speed changes are – always inform the driver so they can speed up or slow down at the right point
  • Look out for instructions that are close together, this can make counting your driver down into the control tricky as distances are so small and therefore the time between these points is miniscule
  • Look out for instructions that are far apart, usually anything instructions that are further than 0.4 miles apart I will work out and add an intermediate instruction for the driver to adhere to.
HEROICS March 2016

Speed changes at cumulative distances

Moving back to speed tables I want to make sure people realise that these can be worked out and all of the maths done before getting to the speed change…

You’re on a regularity and pull into a control at 4.0 cumulative miles. You’ve stopped, handed over your time card, zero’d your timer and trip but realise you’ve got a speed change just half a mile up the road so you’ll never be back on time for it.

This speed change is at 4.5 cumulative miles, therefore you can work out how long it should take you to complete the 0.5 miles to the speed change and even if you’re not at the right distance, zero your clock at the right time, then when you get to 4.5 miles zero the trip too.

There we are, problem solved.

You don’t have to be in a control to work this out, the same principle can be applied when a mile or two miles away from a cumulative speed change.

What happens when a clock freezes?

A lot of competitors use Brantz Rallytimers, they are my preferred tool of choice too but they do have a tendency to freeze now and again. Although the first reaction to do here is panic, keep a cool head, this problem can be solved.

If you are on a jogularity / cumulative speed table, then you will (usually) have started this section one a whole minute (This can be checked on the time card, which should say 00 in the seconds column). If the clock has frozen, reset it and wait until the clock ticks around to 00 seconds and start it again. Now your minutes will be out, but the seconds will be correct and that is all that matters.

For example the time to be at a footpath sign on the right might be 12:04

As the timer froze and you pressed it again a few whole minutes later your timer may only read 7:04 when passing the footpath sign, but ignore the minutes and keep checking the seconds at each instruction and you’re back on track.

The minutes can be checked by adding the minutes column on the regularity start time to the minutes column on the jogularity sheet, these should add up to be the time of day currently on your clock!

If you’re on a regularity using speed tables, (meaning you’ve zeroed your clock at the previous timing point) then the same principle applies, but you need to look on your timecard to find out what seconds you stopped at the last control. For example you might have stopped at 13:55:52. This would mean starting your clock at 52 seconds (on your time of day clock), no matter what minute you are on. So if you didn’t realise for 5 minutes that the timer hadn’t restarted it doesn’t matter, you can zero it at 14:00:52 and ignore the minutes, just keep checking the seconds.

The difficulty does come if there has been a speed change since the last timing point. You need to have recorded how long that section took, for example 2.1 miles at 30 mph = 4:12. That means you can add 12 seconds to the seconds you left the previous control at and all would be right with the world. If this figure was not recorded and the timer was to freeze then there is very little else to do than drive on feeling and hope for the best.

HEROICS March 2016

What happens if you miss a speed change?

Again this just applies to sections on speed tables. Priority number one is work out if you should be going faster or slower and do that, let the driver know so they can either speed up or stop whilst you work it out.

Priority number two is to work out how far it has been since the speed change was missed. If this was at a set distance then that is easy, for example “average 24mph for 6.0 miles then increase to 28mph”. You then need to compare this to the distance you are at, if you’re now at 7.2 miles then you have done 1.2 miles at 24mph which should have been at 28mph. Looking at the difference between these two speeds in your speeds tables tells you that you’re 26 seconds down but I wouldn’t get too bogged down in precise figures and just speed up incase there is a control soon. When back on time zero everything again and carry on as though nothing has happened.

However if the speed change was at an “unknown” point, for example a village in sign then the best you can do is try and measure off the map using your roamer to estimate how far ago the speed change was and how far you are out now. Especially with this one don’t get bogged down with precise numbers, speed up or slow down as required and estimate how far you have travelled as best you can.

Timing is frequently over complicated by crews; it does not need to be at all. The priority is always to be on the right road and if you’re there or there about on time then don’t get bogged down in intricate seconds, as you gain more experience you can spend more time getting the speed changes bang on but that comes with practice.

Martyn Taylor takes a look at how he approaches regularity sections and dispenses some advice.

Where to start with the timing. So you have all the gear, you have the route plotted assuming the section is pre plot. You’re sat on the start line for the regularity section. What next? The first thing to remember is do not try and overcomplicate the instructions given. Read what the organisers have presented and then do exactly as it says, even Masters standard navigators mess up – they may not like to admit it though!

The golden rule as I see it for timing is this:

It’s better to be somewhere near on time on the right road rather than being bang on time on the wrong road… Make sense?

This is the basic guide of what to do, other navigators will work in slightly different ways but this is my own guide to getting people on the right track in the sport.

Before you get to the regularity section, pull up at the side of a road and gather your thoughts, this can also be done whilst watering a tree, having a glug of water or eating that half a Twix that’s been teasing you, all you have to do is get settled. Have a good look at your map, make sure you can understand all your own marks and squiggles. Get your tables ready, the right way up or on the correct page (it’s so easy to start reading the wrong speed!). Give your driver a brief overview of the section. “It’s a map based regularity with lots of junctions and a possible private road with four speed changes”.

If you can (prior to the section) write out a post-it note with the speed changes in a logical way that makes sense to you, sometimes the subtle instructions organisers present can be missed or skipped over, if you copy the information to a format that works for YOU, it can make all the difference.

HEROICS February 2016

So rather than the below which represents a fairly typical route instruction on an event:

Start the regularity at 30mph at 2.0miles change to 26mph after a further mile drop down to 22mph. once you get to the village in sign for “Barbon” reduce speed to 20. At six miles from the start of the section increase speed to 30mph.

to me, this is easier to follow.

Start @ 30mph

@ 2.0m change to 26mph

@ 3.0m change to 22mph

@ At signpost for “Barbon” change to 20mph

@ 6.0m change to 30mph

Does that help? As you complete each speed change you can cross them off your list. Stick it on the corner of your clip board or on the Dash so the driver can see them. That saves the questions mid-section of “when’s the next speed change?”

Then once you are in the control and have handed your clip board over to the marshal.

  • Make sure you’re on the line and not moving.
  • Zero the trip, check your watch is zeroed
  • Once you receive your time card back check that the start time lines up with what you would expect.
  • As the start time comes up start the watch on the second.

Assuming you’re not on private land (More on this in another edition –Ed) you have two miles minimum to the next control. So make sure your following the road and calling the junctions to the driver and only looking at the speed tables if you know there is a decent gap to the next turning, i.e. if you have the time. Concentrate primarily on going the right way

And now you’re rolling, get your driver to try and keep about 3-4 seconds ahead of time (it suits some people and cars better to change this a little), read off your table how far ahead or behind schedule you are at every opportunity. Some speeds you don’t need to look at the tables as 30 mph is 12 secs per 0.1 mile, 24 mph is 15 secs per 0.1 mile or 18 mph 20 secs per 0.1 mile – if you’re good with your numbers you can just do this in your head.

Speed Change 1.  Now as you are coming up to speed change one, assuming you have a straight bit of road with no junctions you can concentrate on the timing for a moment. If you’re traveling at 30mph average for two miles and then changing speed (its irrelevant what speed you’re changing to at the moment) that means two miles equates to four minutes on the watch. Treat the mileage and time as two different entities. As you approach two miles zero your trip meter’s intermediate screen, then as four minutes comes up on the watch zero the watch. Easy, that’s a speed change done, tell the driver that now you’re at 26mph and read the tables as you did from the start of the section.

Speed Change 2.  Speed change two repeat the same process as above. So one mile at 26mph is 2:18. So as you’re approaching one mile zero the trip and as you get to 2:18 in time, zero the watch. Once you’re happy tell the driver your now on 22mph and again start to read the tables

Speed Change 3.  Now this one is a bit different as you’re changing speed at a landmark (the sign) you don’t know the distance in advance. So as you approach the sign make sure you know where you are ahead of time, if you pass the sign at 0.7 miles (the distance from the last speed change) zero the trip and check on the tables the time you need. Which in this case is 1:55 so then as that time approaches zero the watch. If the sign is not at an exact tenth of a mile, don’t panic! If you are three seconds ahead of time as you pass the sign, zero the trip and count in your head to three seconds and then zero the watch. DO NOT OVER COMPLICATE THIS TYPE OF SPEED CHANGE. If you are one or two seconds either way with the watch don’t worry about it – keep it simple and keep on the right road, rallies are not won by splitting hairs on a speed change they are generally won and lost by crews going the correct route.

Speed Change 4.For this you’ll need to use the total screen on the trip to keep an eye out for the last speed change. As you approach 6.0m keep an eye on how far ahead of time you are at the previous read out so if you’re three seconds ahead at 5.9 miles. Zero the intermediate trip at 6.0, then count in your head or off the screen for three seconds and zero the watch.

HEROICS February 2016

Timing points

As you approach a timing point, don’t panic as everything that has happened will become history. As you spot the control try and give your driver another speed update, if you are three seconds up, just get the driver to stop the car as he would in a normal situation on the road. If you are down on time, then you can hurry into the control. As you enter the control do the following.

  • Zero the watch as you stop the car and try and line it up with the beep of the marshal’s watch.
  • Hand over the time card
  • Zero the trip
  • Check the map and direction
  • Grab a glug of water if needed.
  • Receive back the time card


When you enter the control don’t try and run the marshal over or hassle the poor person who has given up his or her Saturday afternoon for you to have some fun, treat them with respect and be polite as events won’t run without these people. It’s amazing how far a thank you can go if you need a favour.

I realise this is all in a perfect world and things go wrong, caravans, little old ladies and tractors usually have a habit of popping up and messing up the perfect speed change but this is a basic guide to get you on the right track. But all of the above pails into insignificance if you are on the wrong road….. So go the right way, don’t panic over a second here and there and the times will be somewhere near.

Closing comment

Not many experts will admit this, if all goes wrong and you have no idea where you are on timing. Zero everything and start again. It happens more often than some navigators will admit. In part two of regularity timing will look more into the things you need to know to “get out of trouble” I actually carry a piece of paper in the car which is entitled that very phrase, that’s in part two in a month or so.

HEROICS February 2016

Fresh from sealing the 2015 Golden Roamer series for navigators, Andy Pullan goes over his maps and makes reference (!) to some necessary skills when plotting..

Maps. They should be a navigators’ best friend, but if you’re just starting out or have little experience on them then they can be a rather daunting prospect. I’m going to try and extinguish this façade and give you a bit more confidence next time you’re navigating.The UK has some of the best quality maps in the world, the Ordnance Survey (OS) have been mapping the country since the 1700s and are constantly updating the network to take account of the latest changes and developments. Maps come in many scales, the larger the scale (the bigger the number) then the more zoomed out they are. Generally these become more difficult to navigate on because the detail is far less. Most commonly used on UK events are 1:50 000 OS Landranger maps, all of which are available on the HERO store.

Each map is 40km by 40km; they are split up by thin blue lines called “grid lines”. Each grid line is attributed a number, the numbers going across the map from left to right are called eastings, and go up in value eastwards, and the numbers going up the map from bottom to top are called northings, because they go up in a northward direction.These grid lines are used to plot a “grid reference” There are two main types of grid reference – four-figure grid reference, such as ‘15 21’, indicates a 1km by 1km square on the map; and six-figure grid reference, such as ‘155 215, indicates a 100m by 100m square on the map.15 and 21 identify the required square, the first number is always the easting (Along the corridor) and the second number the northing (Up the stairs). For the six-figure references you have to imagine that the four-figure square is further divided into tenths. To plot these accurately you will need an essential piece of navigation equipment called a romer. You want to place the top right of your roamer at the bottom left of this blue square, see image 1 below.

HEROICS January 2016

A romer has a scale on it suited for plotting map references. Now we use the last figure in each half of the map reference (i.e. 5 and 5). Once again we do the easting first so move the roamer along to the right 5 places and then we plot the northing by moving the romer up 5 places, (see image 2 below).

HEROICS January 2016

Sometimes you may also come across: eight-figure grid reference, such as ‘1556 2158’, this indicates a 10m by 10m square on the map; and ten-figure grid reference, such as ‘15567 21587’, indicates a 1m by 1m square on the map. There you have it, a map reference plotted!

On an event these will often come with directions of approach and depart which must be adhered to, even if it send you on a longer route. Map references may also have a number before them too, for example 125/ 155 215. This signifies what map number to plot the map reference onto, i.e.. map number 125.

It is good practice to highlight the numbers that identify grid lines on your map with a bright colour, so they can be easily and quickly seen at a quick glance on the map. Some navigators also take the time to highlight every spot height on the map, personally I don’t as it’s very easy to miss one (which will no doubt be the important one!) and it’s a time consuming task. A good working knowledge of the map key is also useful; organisers are renowned for using unusual symbols such as “graticule intersections” and even different languages if the map covers Wales (in which case you will get two keys, one in English and one in Welsh).Some maps will have an overlap, so if you’re changing maps mid-event bear that in mind, although you transfer on to a new map you might not be right on the edge of it! There is a useful diagram of map overlaps at the bottom of the Ordnance Survey key to help with this.

HEROICS January 2016

So, how do you read a map? This really is something that you pick up with experience and it’s very difficult to put it into words, but one day you will have a light bulb moment and everything will click into place. The best advice I can give you is always look at the landmarks around you, look ahead on the map at what is coming up and then take note as you pass it. This will mean you can always pin point where you are on the map. Buildings, forests, footpaths, sharp bends and junctions are all great reference points as these very rarely move. Reading these off as you travel along can give you confidence that you’re on the right route (if you’re ever unsure) and identify which is the correct road if there are a few all in the same area. Some areas of the map can be described as “not as map”, where on the ground the road doesn’t follow what is shown on the map. Moorland sections are infamous for this, couple this with having few reference points and it makes them difficult to pinpoint your location. In these situations it can be useful to measure a distance from the map using your romer then use the trip to measure how far you have been, although it may not be particularly accurate it does give you a rough idea.

Organisers may purposefully use “not as map” sections because they are difficult to navigate and go the right way on the route; this could be due to road re-alignments or inaccurate data. A great way to start out with the maps is to get your local OS 1:50,000 and take a trip round the lanes you are familiar with, start out in the daylight and ask your driver to confirm features as you call them out. Once you feel comfortable with this, have a go in the dark, also, many motor clubs organise smaller events known as scatters, treasure hunts or twelve cars, these are great for learning and gaining experience and will help you progress well.

Don’t worry if you fall for these tricks, learn from the mistake and don’t make it again next time, I’m sure there’ll have been plenty of people who have done the same as you. If everything goes wrong then look for landmarks- anything on a map that could point out where you are: Forrests, buildings, churches, bridges, footpaths etc… It is amazing how much detail is on a map, it’s just down to you to read it.

HEROICS January 2016

In the third part of our monthly series of navigational articles, Martyn Taylor looks at some of the very basics of navigation and dispenses some invaluable tips and advice about starting out.

Now the dust has settled after Le Jog, (the most tiring event of the year) I thought it would be a good idea to strip navigation back and to look at some pointers to get you going. Many of you will be taking the Christmas and New Year break as a chance to get ready for either a return to competing or indeed, your first full season. Both Andy and I have mentioned the most important quality for a navigator to learn is – don’t panic! If something goes wrong on a section, a level-headed approach to the problem is often the best solution. By taking the time to prepare before an event and setting your ‘office’ out you can gain a real advantage, when things do go wrong, it can save you valuable seconds knowing where everything is in your vehicle.

Back to basics, getting the basics right is always a good place to start. Seeing a long list of map references which have to be transferred to onto a shiny new map can be a daunting prospect. But with a little thought, planning and consistency it can be made to be a lot easier.

Being brought up in the murky, dark, muddy world of night rallies, a good old fashioned map, romer and pencil is where I feel most at home. But being a novice getting a route down on paper that is correct can be hard enough, never mind going the right way!

Maps, have you sourced the right edition for the event ahead?  Hero Store run a great map service. They have a very keen price, arrive within 48 hours and are the most up to date version to be used.  So don’t bother with the local book store for finding the elusive map 202 that you’re after, just order it though the Hero Store. Look in the event regulations, these will sometimes detail (if maps are being used) which versions the route has been plotted on by the organisers. Don’t think that rural roads never change, that is far from the truth, many events are won and lost on complacency – in the UK the Ordnance Survey are constantly updating their maps as modern cartography has benefitted from new GPS and aerial imagery. Roads / Features that weren’t on the map two years ago are now being shown, also those pesky cycle routes keep moving!

Pencils, now this might sound silly, but there are pencils and there are pencils. your standard every day pencil is a HB lead. Now most navigators prefer to use a 2B which is a little softer and gives a darker line on the map, while still allowing the lines to be rubbed off with ease (when you go wrong or want to recycle the map for another event). Personally I prefer a 4B which is dark, gives a nice clear defined line, but the trade-off is it can smudge. Now everyone has fallen asleep…. if you’re still reading congratulations! You have to find out what works for you, an issue that can occur by using a pencil harder than HB is that you can easily press through or tear a map, H, 2H and above pencils have incredibly hard leads that are designed for very intricate procedures such as technical drawing etc. Sure, there could be an argument that they give a more precise line, but try and find a line drawn with a 2H pencil on a map and then look at a 2B one, you’ll see why most navigators opt for a softer lead.  I’ve scanned a piece of paper with some pencil markings on to show the difference between the leads and their markings. I’ve scanned a plain piece of paper here with six different ‘hardness’ of pencils for you to compare. The 4B is a Staedtler Mars Tecno propelling pencil, a little more expensive but well worth the investment.

HEROICS December 2015
HEROICS December 2015

Romers, if you don’t own one, it’s the best five pounds you will ever spend. This is the major tool to help you plot a reference on an event and it needs to be on a lanyard round your neck for emergency use at all times. Plus, it’s not going to break the bank to carry a spare in your bag, ready for when you snap your prized navigational aid by sitting on it.  Romers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, popular ones are made by The Basic Roamer Company and Don Barrow, some are clear whilst others are opaque, once again it’s down to your personal preference. A Romer will have a scale to help you accurately plot six or eight figure references on a 1:50,000 OS Map, some will even have a scale for 1: 25,000 maps, these (as a rule) will not generally be used on road-based historic events unless stated in the regulations, so don’t worry about these just yet. Other features on a Romer can include Black Spot dimensions, measuring tools, compass points etc..which are all used on a historic event at some point or other.

HEROICS December 2015

The Poti, probably the most expensive piece of navigational kit you can own. Now until last year I have used my dad’s Poti for every navigational event I have ever done, so they do last forever if they are looked after. Make sure you have the right plug on before you set off to an event! What is a Poti? Imagine a magnifying glass sat on top of a tube, add some lighting inside the tube that will illuminate the map as you look down through the magnifying glass and you have the basics of a Poti. There are several makes and although there are bargain one advertised on well-known auction sites, if they go wrong it can be as expensive to pay for the postage to get them repaired as to buy a new one. Go for something that is well built and can stand a knock or two (which will happen when you are competing), as a rule, the more expensive Poti have a higher grade of lens that resist scratching more than a cheaper one. The Basic Roamer Company have recently introduced a self-contained, wire free version that is proving very popular as it can be used both in and out of the car. But once you have invested in a Poti look after it, always clean the lens after an event and store it on a poti hook or in an old woolly hat, tucked behind your navigator’s seat out of harm’s way.

HEROICS December 2015

Tidy lines, now when you start to make your merry squiggly lines all over your map. Consider this, how am I going to mark the route without obscuring the road I want, while still making it clear which way I am going? Personally I use a single line always on the left of the road I want to take. That way I can glance at a map and always know my direction of travel. Some people use tramlines, which is a line down each side of the road, this is great, but can be time consuming to do and unless direction arrows are included, can become confusing in the heat of competition.

Map markings and map prep. Now some navigators (usually the ones who are retired with too much time on their hands! 🙂 ) like to turn their OS map into a lovely piece of coloured origami, that can fold upside down, back to front and inside out. Personally I like to keep the cover on my map – but cut a 15mm strip off round the edge of the cover. This allows the map cover to fold back on itself without giving me any headaches when trying to refold my map. Some people like to highlight the grid lines and ink in the numbers mid map, be very careful you don’t end up covering over information you may need to make a route work in the future. Spot Heights, now if you have the time to go through your map and mark every single spot height that’s on the road that fine, but I will guarantee you will miss some, sod’s law dictates that will be the one Mr Woodcock uses on ROTT next year because its half hidden under a church and because it’s not coloured in you will miss it and go the wrong way, miss a control and swear you’re right and everyone else is wrong. Then get proven wrong in the bar after the event and be very embarrassed.

Local Motor clubs. This might not seem relevant on the face of it but bear with me…. If you’re spending your hard earned cash on an expensive entry fee, your driver has shiny new tyres, rebuilt gearbox and a host of other upgrades that are going to give Kris Meeke a run for his money. This can be all for nothing if you go the wrong way at the first junction on the first regularity section – so why not practice, knock the rust off or get back up to speed on the plethora of midweek events that take place across the country. Joining your local motor club will cost about £15 a year and if you join the right club, they will run treasure hunts, navigational scatters, twelve – cars (a small night event typically about 2 hours long) and table top events. These are all great practice for sharpening your skills or getting back up to speed after a spell out of the car – they can cost as little as £5 for an evening’s fun and may make all the difference when you turn up at the start of Le Jog or Rally of The Tests. If nothing else you will enter that event with a confidence that you can meet the challenges ahead, most of the navigators at the sharp end of the field will have cut their teeth on hundreds of events like this, practice makes perfect.

If you haven’t got access to a club who does these small events why not draw a route on the map near your house and go and follow it! It might just make all the difference and give you the confidence you need at the start of your next major event.

The devil is in the detail. Once you receive your hand out for the next section the first thing you do is read everything, then read it again. Is the section ahead Coloured Roads only (CRO)? Or is it including white roads (sometimes referred to as CAR, Consider all roads)? Are there any black spots, if so plot them first with the start and finish reference for the regularity / competitive section. Make sure you have a clear picture of what the organizers intend on you doing before you put pencil to map.

HEROICS December 2015

Time Cards and control procedures. Get to know them, make sure they are safely stowed and treat them like they are the most precious things in the world. Look at each section and have it clear in your mind where the marshal needs to sign and with what – are they going to sign for code boards, are they going to sign for a self-start? Getting into a procedure at a control will save you so much time and make your performances that much smoother, ask your driver to shout out if they see a control in the distance (especially a timing point). When you first start out or re-join the sport, this may be a little secondary, you’ll need to be concentrating on going the right way and then picking up on improving your regularity scores, the final bit is polishing the control procedure.

As you enter the control, ideally have your board on the vehicle’s door top with your finger on the control and boards you want signing for, NEVER rush or try and ‘chivvy’ a marshal along, be polite at all times and direct them to what you require signatures for. I know experienced marshals who drop their pens on purpose if a crew / navigator comes in to the control shouting and bawling, causing them to lose time hand over fist! A good marshal will have you in and out of a control in around 13-16 seconds with the right approach, it pays to be polite at all times and help them to help you.

That’s all from me except to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year, January’s column will come from Andy Pullan.


All the best,




Following the great response received to Martyn Taylor’s opening piece in last month’s HEROICS, 2014 HRCR Clubman’s Champion Navigator, Andy Pullan dispenses some advice on tulip diagrams.

Welcome to the second article in this series, aiming to shed light on what is considered by some to be the “dark art” of navigating.

HEROICS November 2015

The first article concentrated on who the navigator is, what they do and how they do it. Following on from this we are going to look at tulip diagrams, one of the most commonly used route presentation techniques a navigator comes across. Tulip diagrams are used in just about every event, from a relaxing scenic tour in the Cotswolds to Wales Rally GB, the premier modern stage rally event in the UK and a round of the World Rally Championship. A tulip diagram is a simple line image of a junction, the direction of approach is from a ball and direction of departure is shown by an arrow. The diagrams can include bends that show the curves of the roads in question – which can be useful to help identify specific junctions. Tulip diagrams can either be handed to you to plot on a map, or in the case of many events they can also be the sole method of navigation, more about this later.

Here are some typical tulip diagrams to help you get going.

HEROICS November 2015 HEROICS November 2015 HEROICS November 2015 HEROICS November 2015
Straight on Follow around to the right Cross roads turn right Junction – hairpin or sharp left


So how would this be displayed on a competitive event or tour?  If the tulips are part of a roadbook then these will come with two different distances; total and intermediate.

The total distance begins at the start of a section and will continue throughout it until it’s finish.

Intermediate describes the distance between each tulip and will add up to the total distance.

Here’s a snippet from the Summer Trial 2015 road book to illustrate intermediate and total (section) distances along with the relevant tulip diagrams.

HEROICS November 2015

Tulip diagrams may be orientated as you travel on the map, or turned around so that the ball is always at the bottom, organisers may not detail which of these variations are being used, leaving it down to competitors to work out for themselves. The balls and arrows may be left off deliberately, making it more difficult to work out each junction. By looking at the angle of the roads in the tulip and any obvious bends these junctions should be obvious from the map. With this type the tulips will be in order, so it becomes obvious that you are on the right route as you keep finding the junctions match the tulips. Sometimes tulips may be squared up, instead of curves.

It is important to know how to respond if something goes wrong, a lot of which depends on what type of section you are on. If it is a regularity section and tulips are the method of navigation defining the route on a map, work out where you went wrong, get back to that point then continue down the correct route. Although it may be tempting to cut part of the route and get back to the correct route sooner, part of the section cut out may have a control / route check on it so always go back to the point where you first went wrong and then proceed along the correct route!

This method also applies to a tulip roadbook but as you are not on a map it is more difficult to work out where you went wrong. Therefore, go back to where you know you were right and work forwards from there. The total distance on your trip will be incorrect due to covering extra mileage going the wrong way, so use intermediate distances to complete the section. The main point here is to stay calm and forget about making a mistake on this part of the route, concentrate now on improving your performance from the next intermediate timing point.

The best practice when you have made a mistake on a cumulative section is to also correct the total distance on the trip meter and not just rely on intermediate distances – in case by accident you forget to zero the intermediate distance at one of the junctions. This is very easy on a Brantz trip meter, by just rotating the STEP control knob clockwise the total distance readout can be increased by any amount. The further it is rotated the quicker it will increase so make sure you don’t get too carried away! Along with the total zero function any distance can be achieved very quickly, it’s one of the reasons I’m a big fan of Brantz trip meters.

So there you have it, tulips are not only a pretty flower but can also show you the right way, go from the ball to the arrow at the correct distance and all will be okay in the world!

HEROICS November 2015


In the first of a multi-part series, Martyn Taylor looks at ways to address who, what and why a navigator does what they do.

From the silly seat, part one.

We navigators are an odd bunch, or so my drivers keep telling me! But what is the role of a navigator and how do we do our job? Well interestingly enough, navigators can be found in all manner of vehicles and modes of transport. Take a look at the definition below which I lifted from a popular online (vaguely accurate) encyclopedia.

“A navigator is the person on board a ship or aircraft responsible for its navigation. The navigator’s primary responsibility is to be aware of ship or aircraft position at all times. Responsibilities include planning the journey, advising the ship’s captain or aircraft commander of estimated timing to destinations while en-route, and ensuring hazards are avoided. The navigator is in charge of maintaining the aircraft or ship’s nautical charts, nautical publications, and navigational equipment, and generally has responsibility for meteorological equipment and communications.”

HEROICS October 2015

So let’s apply this to the murky world of rally navigation.

A navigator is the person in the car who is responsible for its navigation. The navigator’s primary responsibility is to know exactly where he is at on route at any time. Responsibilities include plotting the route, telling the driver which way to go, how far ahead or behind time you are, while making sure he avoids any wayward gateposts or tree’s which inconveniently decided to grow in the verge. The navigator is in charge of his own equipment stationery and God help anyone who fiddles with his maps or tries to steal his time card.

Before we go any further the HERO series of events covers a wide range of challenges at all levels. But generally,  the principles apply whether it’s the Throckmorton Challenge or the Rally of the Tests or Le Jog.

Personally, I find  navigation is just a matter of prioritising what’s most important. Usually 70% of the time during a regularity section is spent on going the right way, 20% on timing and the remaining 10% on planning ahead. The reason I say this -there is no point being bang on time and doing the perfect speed change, if you’re heading in the wrong direction – better to be on the correct road and picking up a few wayward seconds than heading merrily down the wrong road for a couple of miles and picking up a dreaded Timing Point maximum. The following sections are some breakdowns of what I feel can help newcomer or novice navigators to the sport.

Never leave anything to chance:

Don’t plot something and assume it’s right, always check with another navigator and bounce ideas off them, they may have spotted something you haven’t and if you’re still not sure – get another opinion. Something I was taught early on was don’t be afraid to walk up to the guy leading the event introduce yourself and say can I check my route against yours, I promise he won’t bite and will be happy to pass on their advice unless they are leaving the control during the next minute…

Learn from your mistakes:

Being a bit of a stickler for detail I keep a log of every event I have ever competed on, after each event I make notes on what went wrong -and what went right – as each event has its own individual quirks. It’s fine to make a mistake or two but if the same mistake keeps occurring then you need to evolve how you do something to prevent it happening again – it really is surprising what useful hints you can glean when you revisit your notes the following year.

Trip meter set up:

I know it’s a boring job and take place at the time you would rather be in the bar spinning a good yarn, but it’s one of the most critical things you can do before an event. If your trip is bang on the money, then you can start an event in a confident manner. It’s easy to be blasé, but spending time on the meter helps you so much when you get mid- way through a section and come across one of the Clerk of the Course’s famous double junctions, you can trust the information that has been put in front of you. This makes all the difference on tulip and Jogularity sections, remember that the format of the presentation has been selected for a reason, so, if you’re on tulip diagrams on the Rally of the Tests, it’s usually because you’re going to use a road not on the map, there’s a top tip for you!


Reading all the paperwork and understanding it is a big part of a navigator’s task, it never fails to surprise me how many people who compete don’t know the rules of the sport, understanding all the rules and how they are applied can make a world of difference to a result.


Before you enter a regularity section or a test, talk to your driver about what to expect, for example: “it’s a regularity on maps, 4 timing points, 3 speed changes and has a white (white road, a term used to define an un-metalled or private lane, shown on OS maps as such) near the end”. It sounds silly but if your driver is expecting something, then he won’t refuse to turn into the white road he wasn’t expecting as it looks a bit narrow! Should the worst happen, don’t worry as there is probably a control just round the corner, enter the control, zero everything, keep calm and start again with a clean slate going into the next section.

Test Diagrams:

Everyone has their own way of marking them or not marking them. But it pays to study them, understand where your expected to go and what manoeuvres you need to make, the clock is ticking and when you’re sat tongue tied mid-test and your driver starts to make up his own route, you’ll regret that lack of attention to detail.

So the moral of the story is to prepare for an event and remove as many of the variables that you can control. Read the paperwork, trip set up, route checking, test diagram preparation and prioritising what’s most important mid regularity. Then when it all goes wrong, remember not to panic as there will be someone else who has got it wrong as well!

HEROICS October 2015