Finding your way without map or compass

Harold Gatty's classic book is a fascinating read. Gatty was a skilled navigator, who, along with the pilot, the wonderfully named Wiley Post, set the record in 1931 for aerial circumnavigation of the world. Well before the days of GPS or SatNav, Gatty combined up-to-date methods (map and compass, and later radar) with his own carefully acquired knowledge of navigation by natural methods - following the marks of nature and man to judge time, distance and direction.
Some of this book is quite technical and was completely over my head, but a lot of it is fascinating to even the most unscientific of laymen. He charts the course of early explorers showing how the Polynesians, for example, were able to find their way across vast oceans. There are some stirring tales of exploration and endurance, and some wonderful "I didn't know that" type facts - did you know for example that virtually everyone veers to the left or the right when walking? And is the explanation for why on an unfamiliar route over a long distance people can, quite literally, end up walking in circles.

A wonderful stirring read, that just makes you want to go out and do something adventurous.


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