Navigation Resignation

When we go on family excursions, one of us is normally handed the map to guide us on our merry way. Well, when I say “one of us” I generally mean me. It’s a job I enjoy doing, and my mum is hopeless at it so it’s a fair deal.

This time, however, I blotted my copybook in quite a substantial way, and I suspect there will be no way back. I still blame the map for the disaster, but I should have bowed to the prior knowledge of the group (and even myself) but I tried to be too clever.

The situation was fairly simple. My sister has recently passed her driving test (after five attempts, though I’m not saying anything as I’m sure I’ll be that bad if/when I ever do it myself) and so to celebrate we all decided to go together to our family static caravan in North Wales. So we went in two separate cars, and drove up there. So far so good.

However, the next day we decided we were going to go for a little stroll up the hill called Moel Famau. It’s a journey we’ve done many times, and it’s fairly straightforward from our caravan.

A picture of the Jubilee Tower on top of Moel Famau

A picture of the Jubilee Tower on top of Moel Famau

Only this time, I looked at the map and decided that there was a simpler route. It would take us round the other side of the hill, but it would be a shorter route, and it would even provide us with a different wall. The map was pretty clear, this alternative route would take us to a different trail head.

So off we went. It was a breeze for the first 20 minutes. Then we reached the point from which another road was supposed to peel off. A “minor road”. Maps are infamous for being very selective over which roads they include. Sure they have all motorways, A roads and B roads… but they also include lots of other roads which don’t have any distinguishing features. So I had no idea where we were going to find this road. It was one of hundreds of real ones.

Worse, the road signs pointing to villages often included placenames which weren’t even on the map. And the place I was looking did not once appear on the road signs.

Navigating in Wales is bad even at the best of times. But we went round and round on a wild goose chase for this single road I was looking for which allegedly lead up to the trailhead. It was nowhere to be found.

I even got out the car to explore a “village” we had driven through to see if there were any road signs I’d missed. None. I should have known that the trailhead wasn’t signposted at all at any point in the part of land we were. That should have told me that we were looking in the wrong place.

Defeated had to be admitted to… and we went back on ourselves to rejoin the road we’d travelled down and then on to our destination.

This humiliation has meant that I will never be trusted with the map again. It wasn’t all my fault… but I should have stuck with the original plan to go the normal way. I got carried away with my map reading abilities, and was obviously too confident on both the map I had and on the Welsh road network.

Now I have to become a backseat driver all over again. And have to listen to my mum sending us the wrong way again.

Though I should really just stop going on holiday with my family! I’m, what, 23 years old now…