It pays to know your limitations

By Nina Steele 

Walking in the countrysideMy husband and I came across an old man walking on his own in the Surrey countryside recently. As we walked past him, he stopped us to ask for direction. As it became obvious that his sense of direction was not up to scratch, my husband advised him against doing the full route, and instead, explained the way for him to get back to where he had started. The old man insisted on doing the full route, even though he had no map. To make matters worse, he admitted to us that he got lost on another walk recently, and that it took him 3 hours to get his bearings.

My husband gave him all the options available to him, and then we carried on walking. We get asked direction fairly regularly. I always turn to my husband because he is the one with the knowledge. Unlike me, he has a gift for direction. Unlike that old man, I know my limitations when it comes to being out in the countryside or in the mountains. Without my husband with me, I very much doubt that I would be going walking on my own, deep in the countryside, simply because I am no good at reading maps.

If like me, you are also not good at reading maps but still want to go walking, and you have no one to do it with, I suggest that you join a group of walkers. I don’t know any in particular because I haven’t needed to, but I am sure that you will find many online. There is no shame in admitting to not being good at reading maps. What you shouldn’t do, is venture out on your own and run the risk of getting lost.

Being good at reading maps is a skill and like with any other skill, some people are better at it than others. Like I said before, whenever I am asked for direction, I never hesitate to tell the person that my husband is the one they should be asking their question to. We all usually laugh. There is nothing embarrassing about it. I know my limitations and I don’t see why I should pretend otherwise.

I often joke that my husband is so good at direction, he can take us to the moon and back. When I am with him, I know that we will find our way back to where we started, no matter what. When we go walking, he not only carries a map, he also has a compass and a grid reference app. He never leaves anything to chance.

When you know your limitations, you can save yourself potentially hours of worry. Imagine being lost in the woods or the mountains and not being able to find your way back, particularly in the dark. Why put yourself in such a situation, considering the many options that are available these days? If you can’t read a map, don’t venture out on your own, unless it is a route that you are completely familiar with.

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