At this time of year, we’re likely to hear about search and rescue teams helping walkers and climbers lost or injured in the mountainous regions such as the Cairngorms or caught in winter storms off the coast. The relatively flat and cultivated countryside of Norfolk would not spring to my mind as a place where such teams would be necessary but I was recently contacted by Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue (NORLSAR) for permission to use Caistor Roman Town for a training exercise. As Jean Johnson explains below, search and rescue teams are needed across the country – and it turns out the Roman Town is an ideal spot for navigation training.

If you plan to use our sites for recreational group activities, such as Nordic Walking, please do let us know, as NORLSAR did.  It helps us to plan how we manage the sites and co-ordinate our own activities – and, if appropriate, we can advertise your event on our website.

NORLSAR training December 2019 by Jean Johnson i/c Navigation training

Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue (NORLSAR) are a team of trained volunteers who are available 24/7 to work with the Police in searching for missing, vulnerable people. We are currently training a new intake of Search Technicians. This training is carried out mainly at weekends and over a period of months. Part of the requirement is for trainees to have a basic level of competence in navigation, using an OS map and compass. One of the trainers identified the Caistor St Edmund site as being ideal for delivering this training. It has lots of features that can be easily identified from the landscape and then recognised on a map, such as the river valley, church, roads, railway, electricity transmission lines and field boundaries. It is also possible to identify contour lines on the map and see these as the valley sides.

Undeterred by the rain and flooded river, two trainers and three trainees spent the morning putting theory into practice. This included navigating to grid references, working out grid references for landmarks, learning how many paces were taken to walk 100m and calculating how long it should take to walk a fixed distance. These are all skills that may be called upon during NORLSAR training or searches. The trainees that took part will be assessed in the Spring and, if they pass, will become qualified Search Technicians and go on the callout list. If you are interested in finding out more about NORLSAR please go to