The Manual - How to tell the time without a watch

Next time you're stuck in deepest darkest Dalston without a watch to your name, grab a stick (or a thin person) and discover the wonder that is telling the time without a watch. Genius.

1 Drive a stick into the ground and periodically mark the tip of the shadow cast by the stick. The shadow will shrink towards midday and lengthen again after midday, so this will tell you roughly when noon (12pm) is. Adjusting this to suit daylight saving E.g. If daylight saving is +1hr, the time is approximately 13:00.

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2 The sun travels from east to west; so by looking at the series of marks you have made you can determine the E-W line. From this you can find North and South by standing so that West is to your left.

3 To find the time, stand facing north if you're in the southern hemisphere or alternatively face south if you're in the northern hemisphere. The sun will be moving from your left to your right if you're in the southern hemisphere or from right to left if you're in the northern hemisphere.

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4 Next you need to know roughly how many hours of daylight there are. This varies, though as a rough guide, winter days are around 10 hours long, summer days are roughly 14 hours and spring/autumn days are roughly 12 hours long.

5 Visualise the arc made by the sun as it travels east to west, starting and ending at the horizon. Divide this arc into segments, taking an equal number of segments for west and east from the centre of the arc. For example, if you know there are 12 hours in the day, divide it into 12 segments, allocating from the centre of the arc, six segments west and six segments east.

If you have a sheet of paper, hold it up in front of you and draw the arc and work out which segment the sun is in. Each segment equates to approximately one hour. By looking at what segment the sun is in and adding on this many hours to the time at high noon, you can fairly accurately estimate the current time.

Words by Jordan Waller with James Mandeville, survival expert