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I love exploring in Skyrim. There's just nothing like forging a trail through the wilderness and discovering a brand new location, loaded down with treasures, monsters, and surprises.

However, sometimes I need to get somewhere specific. I find it tricky many times to get where I'm trying to go, especially where elevation differences are concerned.

For instance, I need to get to the top of this mountain, where there's a fort. I circle it as best as possible, when I find a path that seems to lead up:

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However, it turns into a dead end:

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The map is often no help in determining which way I should approach a new destination - elevation is very difficult to judge, and there's usually too little detail between the clouds and the odd perspective to figure out how to climb up to a given location.

Sometimes I luck out and can throw myself off a cliff at a location, but I don't always have this luxury. I realize I could mod/cheat/glitch my way up mountainsides (I include horses in this, for their unnatural ability to climb vertical mountain faces) but I know that Bethesda must have some way of getting to every valid location, and I just have to figure it out. I typically just brute force my way by circling the mountains until I find the "right way up." However, I sometimes find this process frustrating, and it would be really nice if I could narrow the search space, at least somewhat.

Are there any general tips and tricks for orienteering in Skyrim? How should I go about getting to new locations that I've never been to before, especially when elevation is a factor?

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When I get too annoyed with the cliffs, I just TCL. –  kotekzot Mar 29 '12 at 10:58
    
I too TCL my way if it is too annoying. But like the answer below I usually keep clairvoyance active for directions. Favorited it switch with the NUM-Pad. When u need to go somewhere specific, it is part of the quest. Activate that quest, keep casting Clairvonce, kill anyone in your way and keep going. –  ヴァイシャリ Mar 30 '12 at 17:03
    
You can also often abuse the gravity-defying capabilities of your horse to climb hills that are too steep to climb on foot. –  hammar Apr 4 '12 at 21:35
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4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

If the destination is your current active quest the clairvoyance spell should give you the best path to your goal. This spell is available pretty early on, try the college at winterhold to purchase it if you don't already have it.

Otherwise it is trial and error or exploring as some of us call it.

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I have Clairvoyance, but I had largely discounted its usefulness after the nth time it led me in circles and/or into a wall. I'll have to give it a shot in this situation to see how it fares. –  agent86 Mar 30 '12 at 17:36
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In addition to the other very good suggestions (completely forgot about Clairvoyance!), one thing I do is always try to stay at the highest elevation possible. Not only does it give you a better vantage point but it's much easier to descend than ascend; just use Become Ethereal and jump off. You can get it from Ironbind Barrow (great for the Steel Battleaxe of Fiery Soul Trap), Lost Valley Redoubt or Ustengrav (part of the main quest).

Plus you can sprint with Become Ethereal and not drain stamina.

Also the world looks bluer, and who doesn't like blue? Not you, surely.

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"you can sprint with Become Ethereal and not drain stamina." Wow TIL. Thank you! –  Anderson Mar 30 '12 at 15:16
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I usually follow the roads to get close to a destination and there is usually a path to the place from the road. Sometimes, like getting to the top of the Throat of the World, I have to circle until I find the right road that gets me to the right path to get there.

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When it comes to climbing cliffs one strategy I use is to tap the jump button fast and move around the cliff looking for little edges to get up

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