Quality Mountain Days
                                                                 & Advanced workshops

Unit 11 Section 3 : Bearings


Bearings are a measure of direction, with North taken as a reference.
If you are travelling North, your bearing is 000°, and this is usually represented as straight up on the page.
If you are travelling in any other direction, your bearing is measure clockwise from North.


Look at the diagram below:
If you walk from O in the direction shown by the red arrow, you are walking on a bearing of 110 °.

REMEMBER: Bearings are always measured clockwise from North and are given as 3 digits.


Here are some more examples:

Note that the first two bearings above are in directly opposite directions to each other.
They have different bearings, but they are exactly 180° apart as they are in opposite directions.
A line in the opposite direction to the third bearing above would have a bearing of 150° because 330° - 180° = 150°.
These bearings in the opposite direction are called back bearings or reciprocal bearings.

Example Questions

Example Question 1
Points of the compass can all be converted into bearings. We already know that North is 000°.


Find the bearings for:
(a) East (E)
(b) South (S)
(c) South-East (SE)


Example Question 2
A ship sails from A to B on a bearing of 120°.
On what bearing will it have to sail to return from B to A?


We can extend the line from A to B, then rotate through 180° to head in the opposite direction.
We can see from the diagram above that the bearing from B to A is 300°, because 120° + 180° = 300°.

REMEMBER: Bearings in exactly opposite directions are called back bearings and are always 180° apart.

Important: Participation Statement

Climbing, hillwalking and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death.
Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement.

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