The Natural Navigator: A Watchful Explorer?s Guide to a Nearly Forgotten Skill

Overview

Before GPS, before the compass, and even before cartography, humankind was navigating. Now this singular guide helps us rediscover what our ancestors long understood—that a windswept tree, the depth of a puddle, or a trill of birdsong can help us find our way, if we know what to look and listen for. Adventurer and navigation expert Tristan Gooley unlocks the directional clues hidden in the sun, moon, stars, clouds, weather patterns, lengthening shadows, changing tides, plant growth, and the habits of wildlife. ...

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Overview

Before GPS, before the compass, and even before cartography, humankind was navigating. Now this singular guide helps us rediscover what our ancestors long understood—that a windswept tree, the depth of a puddle, or a trill of birdsong can help us find our way, if we know what to look and listen for. Adventurer and navigation expert Tristan Gooley unlocks the directional clues hidden in the sun, moon, stars, clouds, weather patterns, lengthening shadows, changing tides, plant growth, and the habits of wildlife. Rich with navigational anecdotes collected across ages, continents, and cultures, The Natural Navigator will help keep you on course and open your eyes to the wonders, large and small, of the natural world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In ancient days, man found his way in the world and over the oceans through solar, lunar, and celestial observation, an art almost lost in a modern world given direction first by compass and cartography and more recently by computer-voiced GPS units. Gooley, a Fellow at the Royal Institute of Navigation, sets out to revive the ancient skills of discerning direction by reading the sky—and other forms of natural observation—in a book rich with fascinating tips (most tennis courts are aligned north-south to minimize the sun's glare; an outstretched fist doubles as a crude sextant) but freighted with pedantic pedagogy. Determined readers who pass through the thicket of words will be rewarded by a wealth of information. Much of it is commonsensical: pay attention to landmarks; stars in the night sky twinkle, but planets don't. Some of it is informative: moss doesn't always grow on the north side of trees, as many a Boy Scout has been taught. Moments are fascinatingly arcane: the author once determined the direction south by observing a "bird-poo compass." Though too technical for easy reading, Gooley's energetic enthusiasm for the art of natural navigation is just enough compensation. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
“Eagle Scouts don't hold a candle or compass to Gooley, a professional outdoorsman if there ever was one and an engaging proponent of navigation au naturale in this compelling guide. Readers will learn how to evaluate clues in nature—from stars in the night sky to evaporating puddles underfoot—to discover where they are and how to get where they need to go. Gooley's particular spin is that this subject is not just about survival skills; it's an art form that can reveal to anyone willing to look hard enough the beauty and utility of nature's patterns. It is, he writes, "about reintroducing a childlike curiosity to the journey." But it is also about applying discipline and scientific rigor to how we move through the world. Chockfull of incredibly useful information ranging from the simple (e.g., how to make a sun dial) to the more complex (e.g., how to outline the sun's arc based on latitude), this book will appeal to veteran trailblazers and cautious nature-lovers alike. Indeed, for those prone to stick to the Discovery Channel rather than venture afoot, Gooley's personal travel anecdotes alone are enough to make this worth a read. Inexperienced hikers will nevertheless want to keep a compass handy on their next outing, but with Gooley's tome in tow, the journey will be all the more rewarding.”
Publishers Weekly

“[A] deeply poetic book . . . Mr. Gooley provides ample instructions, complete with diagrams of wind patterns and tide heights, for living and traveling like a natural navigator.”
—The Wall Steet Journal

“This in-depth book gives us the tools to reengage with our natural world in a clear and understandable way. I love it!”
Bear Grylls, author of The Kid Who Climbed Everest and Man vs. Wild

“The perfect book for getting you started on your own adventure.”
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, adventurer and author of Race to the Pole

The Natural Navigator is a wonderfully stimulating book. Tristan Gooley sidesteps technology to celebrate our own powers of observation, and suggests that the art of natural navigation is something we should never have forgotten.”
Michael Palin

“Before GPSes, people navigated by the stars, the wind and shadows on the ground. Tristan Gooley, an English adventurer, shows how it’s done in The Natural Navigator . . . This fascinating book is filled with surprising facts.”
Washington Post

“Gooley, a longtime adventurer who teaches what he calls “natural navigation,” has compiled an intriguing trove of tips and tricks from cultures such as the Inuit and Aborigines . . . Even for readers who never intend to rely on these tips to find their way through the wilderness, The Natural Navigator is a great primer on how the forces of nature affect the landscapes and seascapes that everyone travels through.”
Science News

“[P]rovides a delightful refresher course . . . His enthusiasm for the basic facts of earth science and astronomy are part of the charm of The Natural Navigator.”
The Providence Journal

“Packed with helpful illustrations, Gooley opens your eyes to the clues that the natural world happily shares with all of us, if we just take the time to look. . . . A truly vital book for any outdoor adventurer.”
Cabin Life

“As Gooley reminds us, navigation is, first of all, about understanding where you are. His marvelous book is a good starting point.”
—Mick Herron, Geographical Magazine

“This wonderful book takes the skill set back several generations further, to the vanishing (but often surprisingly simple) arts of navigating by sun, moon, stars and natural phenomena. If this sounds arcane and unlikely, it’s not: armchair readers will revel in the beautifully written material on myth, science, folklore and history, and the fascinating details and tips . . . This is the sort of charming and inspiring book you want to recommend and buy for others. A must for any lover of the outdoors.”
—Tim Jepson, The Telegraph

“The best nature writing changes the way you experience the world. Tristan Gooley’s The Natural Navigator will teach you how to find your way using not just the moon, sun and stars but spider’s webs, tennis courts and even ruts on a track. He throws in entertaining anecdotes from the history of navigation and from his own impressive Atlantic journeys, but really he’s giving you an addictive hobby, and a newly refined sense of time and place.”
—James McConnachie, The Sunday Times (London)

“Gooley’s calm, contemplative authority on matters solar, lunar and celestial establishes his guru credentials—but it’s his revelations about the clues that lie scattered about the natural environment that really entrance: how puddles drying on paths, the shapes of sand dunes, the graininess of scree on the lee of a slope can all be enlisted to summon compass points to your horizon.”
—Chris Born, Time Out London

“Gooley is a fine writer with a philosophical passion for the subject, and he occasionally veers into areas that are perhaps not strictly within the remit of the book, but these are effortlessly pleasant diversions that add to the whole. His timing is strong, with anecdotes dropped in at just the right intervals to keep you turning the pages. His advice is at times glorious in its simplicity and fascinating in its execution.”
—Laurence Mackin, The Irish Times

“In a sat-nav dominated world, where GPS and a host of other acronyms designed to get us from A to B have overtaken paper maps, it is refreshing to meet someone who understands technology, but prefers to find his way by practicing the rare and ancient art of using nature’s signposts, from puddle patterns to shadow lengths . . . I’m hooked. Back at the beech, I make a mental note of emerging bluebell patches, forming an internal map that I’ll use to find my way around the wood.”
—Paul Evans, BBC Wildlife Magazine

“Gooley artfully covers all a natural navigator would need to know for any situation he or she may find themselves in, be it a wilderness trek, a jaunt through the local woods, or just the walk to work.”
The Englewood Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781615190294
  • Publisher: Experiment, The
  • Publication date: 2/1/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.75 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author


Tristan Gooley is a writer and navigator. His passion for the subject of natural navigation stems from his hands-on experience. He has led expeditions in five continents, climbed mountains in Europe, Africa and Asia, sailed small boats across oceans and piloted small aircraft to Africa and the Arctic. He is the only living person to have both flown solo and sailed singlehandedly across the Atlantic, and he is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Royal Geographical Society. Prior to setting up The Natural Navigator school, Gooley gained extensive experience in the travel industry, and he is currently Vice Chairman of Trailfinders. He and his school can be found online at naturalnavigator.com.
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