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The lost art of reading nature’s signs

Thursday 25 November 2021 (midday GMT)

A man's hand and arm pointing across a rapeseed field (on a sunny day) s if wayfind

About the event

Internationally renowned natural navigator and wayfinding expert Tristan Gooley talks with SDS co-chair Dr Colette Jeffrey at our November lunchtime event. In an era when we increasingly rely on technology to navigate – and get lost when it fails – Tristan’s fascinating knowledge of navigation using natural cues and signs gives us ideas to incorporate into wayfinding system design and help us find our way on our walks. This is an ‘in conversation’ event (not a formal talk), and we invite you to ask questions and share your own natural navigation experiences.

Known globally for his natural navigator skills, Tristan does not see navigating by nature as a survival skill but as a means to enrich journeys and connect with the world around us. He believes “everything outdoors is a clue. Every plant, animal, cloud or star is both a sign and part of our map” and will share his experiences of urban navigation using nature, how to navigate using plants and animals, and other insights from his bestselling book The Natural Navigator* (the 10th anniversary edition was published in August 2020).

Michael Palin on Tristan Gooley: “Tristan 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 is currently President of the Royal Geographical Society.

Attendees can submit their questions for Tristan on any aspect of natural navigation in advance to Kate at or during the event via Zoom ‘Chat’.

[NOTE: This page contains an affiliate link*. This means the Sign Design Society may earn a commission should you chose to make a purchase using an SDS-generated link direct to Blackwell’s online bookshop.]

About our speaker

Tristan Gooley, nicknamed ‘the Sherlock Holmes of Nature’ by the BBC, is an author, natural navigator and educator with his own natural navigation school. He is the author of award-winning and internationally bestselling books, including: The Natural Navigator (2010); The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs (2014); and The Secret World of Weather (2021). Tristan has written articles published by The Wall Street Journal and The Sunday Times amongst other publications, as well as making appearances on programmes such as The Today Programme, Countryfile, BBC Stargazing Live and The One Show. In pursuing the art of natural navigation, Tristan has travelled the five continents of the world, walked with and studied the methods of the Tuareg, Bedouin and Dayak in some of the remotest regions on Earth. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN). In 2020 he was awarded the Harold Spencer-Jones Gold Medal by RIN in recognition of his outstanding contribution to navigation. He is also Vice-Chairman of the independent travel company, Trailfinders. Find out more about The Natural Navigator.

Register for the event

This talk is free for SDS members. For non-members, the ticket cost is £10 per person. To join our Zoom talk, please get in touch with our administrator Kate at for the event link, ID, and password.

Not a member? On this occasion please join us live to hear Tristan speak, as the recording won’t be available to non-members to access on catch-up.

[Note: this event will be recorded and available to paid-up SDS members via our Talks Archive but only until 9 December ’21.]


Online (via Zoom)


25 Nov 2021 12:00

Price : £10.00

Already a member? See details above for booking details.