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Homing Instinct
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CyberianTigerOffline
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PostPosted: 19-08-2014 16:05    Post subject: Homing Instinct Reply with quote

This happened to me when I lived in Stockholm. I had lived there a few months, in the southern suburbs of the city, which are very spread out and interspersed with woods. I still didn't know the local area, or even the city very well. One night, I fell asleep on the last train home and woke up at the end of the line. It was about 1am and -5 degrees. I had no phone and decided I had no option but to walk (taxis are rarer than bears in Sweden).

I was, at first, undaunted by the fact that it was very far (10km or so) and didn't really know the way, reasoning I could follow the train line. This was only possible for a while before it diverged out of sight. I wandered several hours, across fields, and through silent streets, without seeing anyone or any landmark I could relate to. I was wandering in hope really, but finally found myself walking up my own street (even then, it didn't look familiar, and I only knew it by the street sign).

I had somehow found my way home. It seemed to be total chance, given my route and the fact I was half asleep as I walked. It may not be a Fortean level of strangeness, but I felt thankful to some kind of subconscious homing ability in this instance.


Last edited by CyberianTiger on 20-08-2014 07:02; edited 1 time in total
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 19-08-2014 16:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's amazing!
Brave of you to even attempt it in the cold. Me, I'd have looked for somewhere to stay (i.e. a B & B).
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CyberianTigerOffline
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PostPosted: 19-08-2014 17:45    Post subject: Reply with quote

Longjohns are real life saver and -5 is not especially cold over there, although I've heard stories of people freezing to death under bushes in similar predicaments. I didn't see a B&B or anyone the entire way, I was well away from the main roads.
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 19-08-2014 21:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

You knew you were 'at the end of the line', so you had a rough direction to head for home.

There are many cues you might have used after 'diverging' from the railway. And being half-asleep may have enabled your subconscious to access these cues better than if you'd been awake!

If the sky was clear, then there may have been moon or stars to indicate direction. Consciously you may not know much astronomy, but maybe your subconscious does! (The modern world floods us with info, most of which passes the conscious mind by.)

But if it was cloudy, there is another possible cue - the sky-glow from the city lights on the underside of the clouds. This may manifest as a big glow from the city centre, and secondary glows from bigger suburbs or industrial units.

It's known that many birds navigate by 'magnetic compasses' in their brains, and it's been suggested that humans have this ability too.

And I'm not being facetious when I suggest sense of smell comes into it too! Different districts do have distinctive smells, whether from local trades, or geology, or vegetation, or whatever. (Even the local sewage farm!)

As for sounds, they carry far in the dead of the night and may provide even more cues for the half-asleep rambler.

On the other hand, however, perhaps the route home was not that complicated after all, and there weren't that many alternative routes you could have tried, and you just got lucky! Wink


(I think "The Half-Asleep Rambler" would make a good pub name!)
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CyberianTigerOffline
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PostPosted: 20-08-2014 06:59    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now you mention it Rynner, I remember being vaguely aware of (the noise and light) a distant major road, which may have given me a bearing. Anyway, it was a bit freaky going from feeling completely lost one minute, to finding I was exactly where I needed to be, the next. There must have been a large slice of luck, as I have never displayed such uncanny navigation skills on any of my other rambles, before or since.
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Naughty_FelidOffline
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PostPosted: 21-08-2014 11:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've met a few people who seem to have natural compasses and always seem to know which way to go. All have been male.
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MercuryCrestOffline
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PostPosted: 21-08-2014 15:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

My "natural compass" is forever stranded in the Bermuda Triangle.
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Isis177Offline
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PostPosted: 21-08-2014 22:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

MercuryCrest I think mine must be too. I can get lost coming out of a shopping centre toilet block. If there are 2 exits I'll take the wrong one.
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Mouldy13Offline
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PostPosted: 21-10-2014 16:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

Naughty_Felid wrote:
I've met a few people who seem to have natural compasses and always seem to know which way to go. All have been male.


My mate Tim is one of these, so much so that he's earned the nickname "Pathfinder"
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Ringo_Offline
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PostPosted: 23-10-2014 07:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

Geater Stockholm is tricky to walk as there is so much forest, many lakes and swampy bits interspersing the populated areas. You're lucky to have made it. A lot of people go missing in the winter time here in Sweden and only surface again after the spring thaw.

I have a great in-built compass/sense of direction in urban environments. Without me knowing it, my subconcious must be keeping a track of where I am because I always know which way to go or where I am relative to the city. Even in unfamiliar cities, I seem to know where I am and can understand the topography of the place quite quickly.

However, I'm useless in the wild. Hunting and survival are two my my hobbies and I'm training myself to be better at this. I can navigate with or without a compass, use nature to tell me which direction I'm facing etc but I'm no good at finding nearby visual markers.

I got lost in the forest only last week. I walked for literally 5 minutes from the car, due North, into the forest and came out into a clearing. I then walked back into the wood from the direction I came and after 10 minutes realised that I wasn't anywhere near the car. I had missed it by a long shot (about 50 metres) and was now South East of the car. The forst was so dense that I had no idea where I was. Luckily somone was waiting in the car so I called them and had them shout me in.
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FrideswideOffline
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PostPosted: 23-10-2014 11:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

Naughty_Felid wrote:
I've met a few people who seem to have natural compasses and always seem to know which way to go. All have been male.


lots of autistic people of both genders can do it Smile
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dreenessOffline
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PostPosted: 23-10-2014 23:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

Instinctive "dead reckoning", finely-tuned spatial skills.
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Naughty_FelidOffline
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PostPosted: 24-10-2014 01:58    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funny, I was talking to a friend who is English who has a quite marked inner compass who was hiking in Australia and he found his inner compass just did not function down under.

Turns out it was quite scary as he got lost in the bush and only found his way out as he hit the coast and followed that until he came to a road.
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MercuryCrestOffline
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PostPosted: 24-10-2014 06:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if it has to do with the expanse of space you grew up with.

I've heard it said that "To an American, 200 years is a lot of history and to an Englishman, 200 acres is a lot of land".

I wonder if everyone compared stories if we'd find a connection with the vastness of the place you grew up in....
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Ringo_Offline
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PostPosted: 24-10-2014 06:46    Post subject: Reply with quote

MercuryCrest wrote:
I wonder if it has to do with the expanse of space you grew up with.

I've heard it said that "To an American, 200 years is a lot of history and to an Englishman, 200 acres is a lot of land".

I wonder if everyone compared stories if we'd find a connection with the vastness of the place you grew up in....


I'm sure you're right there. Imagine a rat born in captivity and raised in a series of mazes. Perfectly at their element in confined, twisty and turny places, solving the urban jungle. Then drop them into the middle of a wide open plane and see what happens.

My father in law was born in a small village in the North of sweden. There is nothing there but trees, mosquitos, moose and bears. And his village. I exaggerate a little but you get it. He seems to know every tree in the forest. We can walk for hours and he'll know exactly where he is. Meanwhile, I'm struggling to even estimate the distance we have walked.
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