National Navigation Award Scheme

The aims of the National Navigation Award Scheme are simple – to give lovers of the outdoors, whatever their sport, age or fitness, the freedom to explore the paths, trails, hills and mountains of Britain and abroad.

Gaining an award does not give you a qualification to teach or lead. It is a recognition of the level of skill at which you can navigate.

There are three main awards – the Bronze National Navigation Award, the Silver National Navigation Award and the Gold National Navigation Award. Progressing through the three awards will take you from being an absolute map and compass novice right through to be an expert navigator at Gold. The NNAS also runs the Young Navigator Star Awards.

You don’t, of course, have to start at Bronze, although it expected that you will have completed the Silver award at least before you start a Gold Award course.

Courses are run the length and breadth of the UK, so you should find one near you, or in your favourite spot.  You can search for an area on the Find a Course page.

To see what people like you have said about NNAS courses see our testimonials page.


Bronze National Navigation Award

The Bronze National Navigation Award covers the essential map reading skills. You’ll learn about using “handrail features”, like paths and walls, to guide you along your way. You’ll also learn the basics of how to use a compass and how to use it with your map to ensure you don’t get lost. A bronze course will take you from relying on friends or guidebooks to being able to plan a walk and follow it successfully.

NNAS Bronze award is accredited by the Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework (SCQF) at Level 4, and 2 SCQF credit points are awarded on completion. (See FAQs for more)

Silver National Navigation Award

On a Silver National Navigation Award course you’ll start to leave the paths behind. You’ll navigate in open country on short bearings. As your confidence increases you’ll learn more advanced compass skills and add timing and pacing into the mix too.

Silver courses take place on more difficult terrain and away from easy-to-follow paths and trails.

Gold National Navigation Award

The Gold National Navigation Award marks the pinnacle of your navigation skills. You will be happy and familiar with all the bronze and silver skills and now wanting to get even more out of your navigation. The Gold Award is all about reading the landscape and comparing it to the ground. You’ll use contour features to enable you to identify where you are on your walk and be able to navigate to small and subtle contour features.

If you’re looking to complete a Walking or Mountain Skills course, then the skills learnt on a Gold Award course will be invaluable. NB: None of these awards are to be used as a leadership qualification of any kind.

Young Navigator Star Award

The focus of the Young Navigator Awards is to encourage children to explore their surroundings using simple maps such as street maps, pictorial park maps and orienteering maps. There is a gradual learning progression via One Star (bronze), Two Star (silver) and Three Star (gold) levels with certificates and badges available for achieving candidates.