Issue 3 – September 2022
Welcome to the 3rd Edition of NNews – a quarterly newsletter from Northern Navigators. The newsletter contains details of upcoming events and contributions from our members. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this edition. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any comments or wish to contribute to any future editions.
(Thanks to Dougie for taking the photo included above, it is the 2nd start of the NN Fellgate Chasing Sprint event back in June)
Sunday 25th September – Cumbria Galoppen; Harter Fell (LOC, regional)
Saturday 1st October – October Odyssey Day 1; Druridge Bay (NATO, national)
Sunday 2nd October – October Odyssey Day 2; Morpeth (NATO, national)
Sunday 9th October – Cod Beck Regional; Cod Beck (CLOK, regional)
Wednesday 12th October – Military League North; Alanbrooke Barracks (MLN, note security requirements apply)
Tuesday 18th October – Dusk Event; Wilton Golf Course, Redcar (CLOK, Local)
Sunday 23rd October – Cumbria Galoppen; Faulds Brow, Caldbeck (BL, Regional)
Saturday 29th October – Autumn Series Event; West Park, Darlington (CLOK, local)
Sunday 30th October – North East Score Championships; Fontburn Reservoir (NN, regional)
Sunday 6th November – Cumbria Galoppen; Latrigg and Greta Gorge (WCOC, regional)
Wednesday 9th November – Military League North; Catterick, Shaiba & Garrison North (MLN)
Saturday 12th November – Autumn Series Event; Robin Hoods Bay (CLOK, Local)
Sunday 13th November – Urban Event; Whitby (CLOK, Regional)
Saturday 19th November – Local Event; Gelt Woods (BL, Local)
Saturday 19th November – Night Event; Brimham Rocks (CLARO, Regional)
Sunday 20th November – Newburn Local; Newburn (NATO, Local)
Sunday 20th November – Regional Event; Ellington Banks nr. Ripon (CLARO, regional)
Saturday 26th November – Autumn Series Event; Hartburn Beck (CLOK, Local)
Saturday 3rd December – Autumn Series Event; Saltburn Valley Gardens (CLOK, Local)
Sunday 11th December – Regional Event; Eston Moor and Lazenby Bank (CLOK, Regional)
Sunday 11th December – Cumbria Galoppen; Bethecar Common (LOC, regional)
Sunday 18th December – Festive Frolics; Plessey Woods Country Park, (NATO, Local)
Friday 27th to Sunday 29th January 2023 – Edinburgh Big Weekend; Edinburgh (EUOC, local/regional)
Sunday 12th March 2023 – CompassSport Trophy Heat; TBC, likely Beanley, Alnwick (NATO, national)
Friday 7th to Monday 10th April 2023 – JK; Lancashire and South Lakes (NWOA, major)
Sunday 30th July to Friday 4th August 2023 – Scottish 5 Days; Moray (national)
We also have a weekly club night on Wednesdays at 6.30pm in the vicinity of Durham City. Contact [email protected] for further details.
The sign up window for 2023 Club and British Orienteering membership is now open (the renewal window for existing members opens in November). Annual membership cost comprises of a British Orienteering fee (£15 for seniors, £5 for juniors) and a NN Club fee (£3.50 for seniors, free for juniors and £4.50 for family membership which can include up to 2 seniors and unlimited juniors registered to the same address). Sign up can be done online on the British Orienteering website, by post or over the phone – if you need any more information then take a look at the club website, contact the club by email or in person at events or club nights.
As a club we encourage those who regularly attend our events to take up membership – without the support of our members we could not offer our events and club nights. Membership includes the following benefits:
- The option to participate in all Northern Navigators events, activities and social programme
- Reduced entry fees for some orienteering events
- Eligibility to compete in major competitions across the country such as the British Championships
- Inclusion in the National Rankings based on points from Regional, National and Major Events (if you are 16 or over)
- You will have Public Liability Insurance when participating in events and activities registered with British Orienteering
- You will have access to many resources in the members’ section of the website and the British Orienteering Newsletter
- You can vote at the British Orienteering and NN Annual General Meetings
- Your successes will be recognised through the ‘Navigational Challenge’ and ‘Racing Challenge’ incentive schemes
- Discounts from British Orienteering partners
- The right to compete in NN Club colours and represent the Club at events (i.e. you can buy a club top!)
Come and Try Orienteering in Durham
(article originally printed in Active Valleys Newsletter)
Orienteering is a sport that is sadly not well-known amongst the general public; it could even be described as “niche”. In fact, at club night we are often asked by passers-by what exactly we are doing whilst running around or emerging from a thicket. For us hardened orienteers, the advantages of our sport are obvious; it is sociable, outdoors and promotes physical fitness and well-being giving us an appreciation of the natural environment. What’s not to like! So, as lockdown restrictions started to ease we set about thinking how we could expand our profile in the local area. With this in mind, we identified areas in Durham to map and use for orienteering purposes. Our plans were very nearly stopped in their tracks when we learnt that we would be charged £50 per event for a licence to use DCC land. We were crestfallen as there was no way we could cover our printing costs plus the British Orienteering levy (£1.50 per senior competitor or £1.50 per 3 juniors) if we were also charged to use the area. It was at this point that Active Valleys stepped in to help.
Thanks to funding from Active Valleys (an initiative to promote healthier and more active communities in the Deerness Valley), we were able to put on a series of 3 events with the aim of attracting newcomers to orienteering. Our target audience was juniors and families and we made good use of social media to get the message out there, sharing the flyer via local schools through the Active Valleys network and using Facebook and contacts amongst members’ friends to promote interest.
The first event took place at Aykley Heads where we were pleasantly surprised to have 39 participants recorded in the results (in reality there was probably 50% more as most people took part in a group and were recorded as one person in the results) 15 of which were juniors/families.
The second event was based at Broompark picnic area and attracted 45 competitors but again, a lot more people took part who were not recorded individually. This time we had 24 juniors/families and were very pleased to get 9 people coming back for another try after attending the Aykley Heads event.
The final event in the series was located in Bearpark Colliery Woods and we were delighted to register another 45 individuals recorded in the results, of which 25 were juniors/families and to count 11 returning after attending at least one of the previous events. We estimate that over the course of the 3 events, we have attracted close to 200 participants which is fantastic. All results can be found on our website: www.northern-navigators.org.uk
We are really encouraged by the success of these Come and Try It events and are now thinking about how we can build on this in the coming autumn. We have since seen a substantial increase in attendance at our weekly club night as well as enquiries about club membership, over half of which were from families so all in all, a great result.
A huge thanks to all the club volunteer helpers who showed up in fantastic numbers each time and without whom the events would not have been viable.
60 Seconds with…..Julian Warren
Julian Warren answering questions from the Warrens
What’s your role in the club? Officially I’m a committee member but am also MapRun contact, mapper, club night coordinator.
How long have you been orienteering? About 33 years, I know, I don’t look old enough😊
How did you get into the sport? Joined the mountaineering club at Durham University and was asked if I’d like to do a Mountain Marathon, I was intrigued. We completed the KIMM, as it was called then, in the Cheviot. The navigation aspect of the event fascinated me and I wanted a regular fix. Another competitor suggested Orienteering, I was hooked.
What’s your warm-up routine? Get to the event early enough to join the loo queue, it’s an age thing.
What’s your best result? Too many to mention ha ha ha. My biggest adversary is always myself and therefore completing a long course in the French alps Foret de Charvette at WOC 2011 and not coming last was a result! When I look at the map, see section below, I still can’t believe I found the controls. It was like crazy limestone paving with a gnarly oak woodland on top for good measure.
What do you eat before your run? I’ll usually have a bowl of cereal for breakfast and if I have a very late start, I might nibble on a peanut butter sandwich two hours before my run.
Thumb compass or base-plate? Never could get on with a base-plate dangling from my wrist while running. I use a left-handed thumb compass because you always know exactly where it is. Contrary to its intended usage, I hold the map in my right hand and bring the compass to the map.
Do you take compass bearings? Only rough bearings ‘running on the needle’ I don’t have a bezel on my compass just numbered sectors.
What’s your favourite orienteering area? Difficult to choose just one so here are three Craig Mhic (oak woodland on moraine), Roseisle (conifer on dunes) and Caw (complex rocky moorland).Lycra or baggy? Well, without sounding like a fashionista, it depends on the occasion. Baggy ¾ length for the woods and lycra ¾ length for the open.
Moorland or forest? If only it were a binary choice. There are good and bad in both. On balance it would have to be the technical moorland found in the Lakes.
Urban or cross country? Definitely cross country. I feel more in tune with the map and terrain. You don’t find complex contours in urban areas.
Do you pace count? I know I should but I don’t. Like Gerald Ford I can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. I use dead reckoning instead.
What’s your worst mistake? I think I’ve made most possible mistakes, wrong map, wrong control descriptions missing a control out etc. but when I started orienteering I hadn’t realized that white on the map was forest run and ran off the map.
Are you a results nerd? Not really. I have a cursory glance at the splits but generally I know where I’ve lost time.
What do you think of Routegadget? It’s a great tool to compare your route to others and see routes you’d not considered at the time.
Northern Navigators Website Update
Having previously developed a couple of club websites using WordPress (I still manage the CLARO website, though other people upload the content), I volunteered to look at something for NN. One advantage of WordPress is that the newer themes ensure the content is readily viewable on pc’s, tablets and laptops, without specialised knowledge of the user – a good job because I am not a specialist.
The other point about WordPress is that being web based, you can set up multiple users so a team of people can be involved in updating the various sections of the website. This also adds in some digital resilience. The added interest for me was using the new WordPress full site editor function, so I spent some time finding my way around it (that’s what retirement does for you!). I have deliberately tried to keep the design simple, as I believe orienteers are visiting for facts, not a pretty experience; but kept asking the small NN team their opinion on features. When my daughter was here from Australia in the summer (she works in design), she didn’t hold back on her views – essentially saying it looked a bit old hat i.e. designed by an M65! She did come up with some useful suggestions, that have mostly been implemented. So I hope you find the result acceptable.
There has not yet been a lot of change to the content, it is mostly cut and paste from the old site. One thing that has been added is a section for the Wednesday evening training/ club night sessions. I have been adding the details since the start of July, so if you don’t yet join in, have a look and see what we have been up to over the summer. The sessions run all year round. Currently the details are circulated to a WhatsApp group, though they will also now be on the website. There is information on how to join the WhatsApp group on the website, and how to reserve a map even if you don’t join the group.
For those of you who aren’t experienced orienteers (or anybody!), have a look at the “Beginners” section which has links to some good training videos produced in conjunction with British Orienteering on various aspects of orienteering. I will be looking to expand the “Resources” section, so if you think there is something useful that could be put there, please let me know.
Note that if you think something useful was on the old site, but not transferred, there is a link to the old site on the bottom of the “About Us” page. Again, just let me know.
Finally, a massive thanks to Rob McKenna. Although I have only been an NN member for a short period of time, I understand that Rob has been solely maintaining the NN website for 20 years – that is real devotion to duty. Rob has been very helpful in providing whatever I have needed to smooth the transition from old to new; have a well-earned break Rob.
Thoughts from the Lakes 5 Days
The forecast for the week was warm, sunny and dry. The car was packed and the SatNav set for Swindale. It was Sunday 7 August and we were heading for the Lakes 5 day. Dougie was running his age class in the 5 events and while he was doing that I was going for a bimble around Orange. The flaw in my plan was that there is not much bimbling to be done on any course in the Lake Distract. The terrain is too tough.
At the first event, Swindale South near Shap, my legs gave up on the steep course after the long walk to the start. When I found control 3 instead of control 2 I could not face back tracking. I decided to head for the finish and pick up what controls I could on the way. On the route back I passed the ruin of Shap Abbey. I couldn’t help reflecting that Swindale had treated my legs the same way that Henry VIII had had treated the Abbey (pictured below).
I took the next day as a rest day but went to the event at Threlkeld Knotts with Dougie. It was a lovely spot but I didn’t envy Dougie and everyone else the 200m climb to the start.
On Day 3 I tackled Orange on the middle distance event at Dale Park (Grizedale). My progress was slow but steady and on the second half of the course I was able to pick up a long path between controls 8 and 9. Two competitors were standing by a tree looking at the orange map.
‘Is anyone else but us mad enough to use this path?’ I heard one of them say.
‘Yes, me,’ I said coming up behind them. They explained that they had expected the path to be easier underfoot. I said that I thought we were all heading to control 9 by the most direct route and that the state of the path was due to last winter’s storms. I went on ahead but then got lost in a marshy area after finding control 9. There was no sign of control 10 and after looking round for a bit I fell into that state of existential despair that only orienteering can induce. I was about to give up when the two orienteers I had spoken to earlier appeared and pointed me in the direction of control 10. I finally escaped the woods by following everyone else up a muddy bank and through a gate.
Wednesday was a rest day and very warm. Dougie and I went for swim and a picnic at Blea Tarn in the Langdales (pictured below).
On Thursday Day 4 we were back at Grizedale, Raven Crag this time, described as challenging. The climb to the start was the opening challenge but after that the first four controls on Orange were on paths. Control 5 could be found by following a ruined wall. The only problem was that there was a big fallen tree in the way. The options were squeezing between the tree and the wall, walking along the wall or going the long way round. I went the long way round. Just after getting the control I heard a terrific crash nearby and every orienteer in the area shouted ‘Are you OK?’ in a chorus of disembodied voices. The person was OK, they had “just” fallen off the wall.
After getting my control 8 I was walking along the forest drive when someone came up to me and asked if she could walk to the finish with me. Her shoe had fallen apart and while doing a temporary repair job she had lost her map. So I had the company of a lovely orienteer from Wessex for the rest of my course, although now I felt responsible for getting both of us to the finish. It made me realise how often I stop, look at my map and check where I am, plus I usually talk to myself. The final sting in the tail on Raven Crag was a very steep descent between my controls 13 and 14. Even with the aid of my walking pole I fell over backwards and sat down on a sharp rock at one point. I had the bruises to prove it for the next week.
When Dougie got back he found me lying in the shade of the trees by the beck as I’d managed to lock myself out of the car. I was exhausted but pleased as after Swindale I hadn’t thought I had it in the tank to tackle Raven Crag.
I didn’t go out on the last day as it was too hot for me but Dougie tackled Helsington Barrows and then we headed home. It was an enjoyable week and good to catch up with other Northern Navigators who were also in the Lakes for the week.
Junior Regional Orienteering Squads
Maya Hampshire Wright
Every year JROS (Junior Regional Orienteering Squads) organises coaching tours for juniors aged 14-19. These are great for learning new techniques, running in some great areas, and meeting juniors from across the UK to compete against and chat with at big events.
The camp for 14-year-olds is held most years at Lagganlia (near Aviemore in Scotland). The areas around there are good for learning how to read and navigate using contours. The hills and depressions are very visible on the ground but there are some more complex areas to put everyone to the test. There are also plenty of bilberries so you can have a snack halfway around! 24 juniors in total are selected with an aim to get the best 14-year-olds and someone from each of the regional Squads. They are split into groups of 4 and assigned two coaches for the week.
I went to Lagganlia as a Junior in 2018 and had an amazing time so this year I went back as a coach. The coaching was very intensive, so I learned the strengths and weaknesses of the juniors I was assigned very quickly. Since I had never done any coaching beforehand, I worked with Dom Dakin (SYO) and Tony Carlyle (AIRE) who gave me some great tips. Each day some of the coaches went out to the area earlier to hang the controls while the juniors were briefed about what to work on (i.e., Bearings, pacing, contours, etc.). When we had all arrived at the area we broke off into our coaching groups and went out on the courses (see example below). The courses tended to be 1-2km and each was planned to help work on a particular skill. As a coach, I sometimes shadowed the juniors around these courses, either watching to see what they should work on next or talking through plans for each control and demonstrating techniques. As a coaching group with three coaches and four juniors, we aimed to always have one coach at the base to talk to the juniors when they returned from their courses. When we returned to Lagganlia we met up in coaching groups to discuss how the day had gone and physical training plans. In the evenings, after dinner, we all met up to have a talk on different psychological aspects of orienteering like maintaining concentration and how to prepare for an important race.
I really hope the juniors I was coaching learned something from their time at Lagganlia, I certainly did! I found that when I was coaching, it was a challenge to follow and to always know exactly where you are. I definitely found that I was much more focussed on the details than when I race.
The 15-year-old tour was held in Findhorn this year. Yokub went this year and had a great time orienteering in the areas where the Scottish 6 Days (a big multi-day orienteering event held every other year) will be held next year. These are great, runnable sand dune areas.
The 16-year-olds went to the Czech Republic and the 17-year-olds went to Stockholm.
The 18 and 19-year-olds went to Gothenburg. This is the tour I went on! As juniors we almost entirely organised the tour including planning the courses, sorting out transport, putting out controls and cooking our own food. It turns out we were all decent cooks (and better than last year’s group from what I’ve heard). There were 15 juniors and two adults (Mark and Alice Saunders). We travelled around by public transport (which was easy to use and always on time)! Sävedalens Orienteering Club (SAIK) let us stay in their club hut which was right next to a beautiful lake and forests. The areas there are more expansive than in Britain even right next to the centre of Gothenburg and had complex contours and plenty of marshes (great for navigation but the bog myrtle was tough to run through). The tour was 10 days long, so we didn’t do full days of training each day: we trained in the morning and swam in the afternoon.
This was my first time in Scandinavia, and it certainly lived up to all of my expectations. Everyone knew what orienteering was and at the Botanical Gardens we could pick up a free orienteering map of around Gothenburg, these were in a pile next to the visitor maps of the garden.
These JROS tours are great for socialising, orienteering and having a great time!
Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon in Eskdale
Harter Fell course – 36km, 2200m
Elizabeth Bedwell with Paul Cumner
As this was our first time running the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon (SLMM) together, we spent a lot of time planning and discussing what to take and what to leave at home. We didn’t want too much extra weight to carry, but weren’t serious enough to cut the handles off our toothbrushes. Alongside the required safety kit and food, we snuck in a few treats to boost morale during the event. We also knew it was important to make sure the essentials were in easy reach: hats and gloves in the top pocket, snacks in the side pouches, and waterproofs on top.
The Friday evening was spent checking the final details, then with our bags packed and alarms set, we tried to get a good night’s sleep ahead of the big weekend.
The heavy bout of rain over Friday night meant the ground everywhere was sodden and our feet were wet within 5 minutes. The marshy ground also made running challenging, but we marched up the hill to the first control. Leg 2 – 3 had some route choice of following the path then climbing steeply or contouring around the slope. Following a pair immediately in front, we cut off the path and joined the snake of people cutting a route through the bracken while constantly questioning our choice and trying to monitor the pace of pairs going the other way.
At control 3, looking down to the river Esk, it was great to see so many pairs scattered about exploring a quieter part of the fells. To get to number 4 we had to ford the fast running river, just in case there was any doubt about having wet feet… At least the water was now clean!
By control 5 we were feeling the efforts of the day, and could see a long climb in store up to number 6 on the top of Esk Pike, so this was a good time to refuel with our snacks of choice: honey roasted peanuts and dried apricots. We also used Harribo to motivate ourselves up the climb, eg. “At that crag, would you like a gummy bear or a fried egg?”.
As we neared the top, the cloud came in and visibility dropped. It was hard to tell the different rocky tops apart, and we lost sight of the other pairs that had been around us. We slowed down significantly to navigate and the damp air meant we were in danger of getting cold. After checking one rocky top, we came down to a marsh and found two other pairs that were similarly unsuccessful on nearby outcrops. By process of elimination we knew (hoped) the control was on the further outcrop. Thankfully, we were correct!
Still in the cloud, we chose to stay on the path through the rest of the boulder field. Being slightly higher now than at the start of the day, marshes were swapped for broken ground and we managed a few stretches of running; it felt good to be covering the ground more quickly.
An hour later, we were on the lower slopes of Scafell Pike with the final descent to the campsite on the shore of Wast Water. I fell over about 6 times in total; not sure whether to blame the steep slope, wet ground, or the previous three hours of running…
Maybe we were biased by the joy of finally getting to sit down, but the campsite was delightful. It was a scenic spot with amazing views across the water at the peaks visited only by longer courses. We managed to bag ourselves a spot sheltered by a wall, reasonably flat and not too far from the water station or the toilets. With conflicting urges to sleep and eat, we settled on a few chocolate biscuits to power us through setting up camp before we could finally relax and prepare the first course of our evening meals.
The evening also offered a chance to catch up with other Northern Navigators on the trials of the day. Pot Noodle seemed to be a particular favourite, as did butterscotch Angel Delight (topped with Cadbury’s flake, of course).
As there was no space for a roll mat, sleeping conditions were less than ideal, but we were exhausted by the day so slept well and felt as ready as we could be to do it all again tomorrow.
It was a damp morning as we packed up camp and looked over the course for the day. It was nice to be able to plan our major route choices in a relaxed way over porridge rather than being time pressured as we were on day 1. The grey skies meant we were faced with a decision of whether or not to wear waterproof trousers from the start. We didn’t want to get cold or too hot, or to waste time on the course changing later. We both were in favour of extra protection against the weather, and as the first two hours were in the cloud, I still think it was a good decision.
We opted for an early start and, grateful that our bags were now lighter, began the classic steep ascent out of the campsite onto Illgill head. The first few legs took up along the ridge overlooking Wast Water, I’m sure giving great views if it wasn’t full of cloud all the way. Having been surprised at the end of the first to be leading the mixed pair category, we felt extra fire in our legs to stay ahead of the competition and ‘hunt down’ any mixed pairs we saw ahead of us.
The steep muddy descent off of Illgill head was a fun challenge to pick up the pace chasing down a couple of pairs ahead of us. Even as we descended the slopes were getting more treacherous and we were lucky we were to be one of the earlier ones down as it was quickly becoming slick with mud. There were other opportunities for running on day two and we were moving much faster than on the first day, averaging just under 10 mins/km rather than 14 ½ mins/km of the day before.
Day 2 was also a shorter day, thankfully, so we didn’t need so many snack stops. Our snack of choice today was a peanut butter, banana, and chocolate chip Cliff Bar that saw us through the whole morning. For those unfamiliar with a Cliff Bar, imagine the densest, chewiest flapjack you can – dangerous for anyone with fillings or wobbly teeth!
The final part of the course returned to the lower lying hills and marsh from day 1. The end was almost in sight. But we couldn’t relax just yet. The penultimate control required another deep river crossing and a short climb through more bracken, made more hair-raising by Paul nearly stepping on an adder. General fatigue was hampering our navigational ability and we nearly missed this control sitting, very obviously, on a river junction. Then it was just a quick section of track and road to the finish, although with my jelly legs ‘quick’ is certainly relative. We did manage a burst of speed through the final field to cross the line together, still smiling.
After download, we were herded over to the kit-check table, one final hurdle before we could rest. I was so nervous our efforts would be discounted. What if we’d dropped a whistle in the marsh or didn’t have enough fuel left to satisfy the marshal? Thankfully, all was in order.
We hobbled back to the car to dry our feet and change our clothes. The post-race meal was bean chilli and a hearty flapjack which we enjoyed while waiting for the results. Turns out, we won the MIX category of the Harter Fell course and received a nice piece of slate to go along with our radioactive-orange commemorative t-shirts. Interestingly, a pair starting in the same minute as us on day 1 also won the MIX category of their course.
Somewhat refuelled and slightly recovered, Paul began the long drive home.
In hindsight, we should have made more use of the drink available at the campsite. With a meagre pint of milk to share for our morning coffee and porridge we were surprised to see the pairs walking away with armfulls of milk and beer. It seemed to be a good way to get extra calories that someone else has carried.
I also should have paid more attention to where I packed the kettle in the bag. It was bouncing on my back all of the second day and I ended up with quite a bruise!
Over the years, I have learnt that the best way to motivate myself around a long run is to pick the recovery treat ahead of time. For the Saunders, this took the shape of fish fingers, chips, and curry sauce – enjoyed back home in the evening sunshine.
This was soon followed by oranges, digestives, bowls of cereal, and some chocolate buttons. Apparently two days in the hills really takes it out of you.
Take a look at Routegadget for the various courses: https://www.slmm.routegadget.co.uk/rg2/#18
Some more views from the Lakes 5 Days
The first 3 days by Paul Cumner (an NN tag along)
Since my first event in January (Melbourne Urban), I have done a couple urban events and a light green at Duncombe Park (Compass Sport Trophy). It was, therefore, quite a step up to be competing on the M21S course for the first three days of the Lakes 5.
Day 1 at Swindale South, a large open fell with the majority of the map marked as marsh that made for a soggy start to the week. There were a lot of nerves on the startline wondering if I could even find the first control, let alone make it around the entire course. My general plan was to use the tops of the hills as solid and easy to identify points to help me navigate. This plan meant I did significantly more climb than necessary, but it got me around most of the course without too many issues. That is until the second last control where, on a 250m leg, I spent 7 minutes scratching my head, standing by a boulder where I knew the control should have been. I even doubled back to the previous control before realising the boulder I needed was just 30m further down the slope.
Day 2 at Threlkeld Knotts, a steep sided rocky fell with an adjacent area of marsh covered in tall reeds with the odd boulder peaking out. After a hefty climb from assembly, we took a moment to appreciate the views over Blencathra and Skiddaw before starting. My minute man raced past on the way to no 1, and it was clear that chasing him down wasn’t an option. This distraction, and the abundance of unmapped rock and broken ground, made for a slow start to the course. Once I had got into the map, it was an enjoyable course and I liked the more runnable terrain. Maybe this Lake District orienteering wouldn’t be so bad?
Day 3 at Dale Park, Grizedale forests at their worst, proved me wrong. Steep slopes, huge crags, and dense pine trees (eye-protection required?) made for a real navigational challenge. The density of features, surprisingly, made navigation more difficult. I felt like I should always know where I was because it was never more than 5m from a crag or platform or boulder, but instead I was overwhelmed by the detail on the map. This, coupled with the physicality of the terrain, meant this was my longest day despite it being the shortest course. The few line features I found proved very useful. Especially the big track which I opted to follow all the way to no 10 rather than braving the cross-country route. Maybe next time I should choose a shorter course!
After my first “proper” experience of orienteering, I have learned how different classic orienteering is from urban running and how varied the terrain can be. There is clearly still a lot to practice navigationally, particularly in how to use a compass beyond finding north. The Lakes 5 was fun and challenging, and I am looking forward to orienteering in the Lake District again soon.
The last 3 days by Dougie Nisbet
We were happy to see Wednesday. The rest day. We planned to head to Windermere early for a paddle. So had everyone else. But before we could even leave the hotel car park there was a small existential crisis to resolve. Overnight a spider had spun a beautiful web carefully utilising the steering wheel and the rear-view mirror. It was wondrous. A thing of beauty. If I knew my history better there was probably some profound parable I should be reflecting on. I’m pretty sure there was something important about caves and spiders and webs I’d been taught about at school, but it wasn’t going to get us to Windermere. I apologised to the spider and moved it gently to a nearby tree. It did not look pleased (pictured below).
Windermere was busy, expensive, and in parts covered in a thin slimy green film, so we moved on to Blea Tarn, which was none of those. There was an island of Lilies in the middle which served as a pretty turning buoy, and as the day went on, the memories of the first three days began to soften. They hadn’t gone well. To paraphrase Marvin the Paranoid Android: “the first day was the worst, and the second day, that was the worst too. The third day I didn’t enjoy at all. After that, I went into a bit of a decline”.
But that wasn’t going to happen. The remainder of the week was going to be different. Things could only get better.
Day 4: Grizedale – Raven Crag. I stepped into the box and reached down for my Control Descriptions. For a moment our fingertips touched, and I looked up to see a puzzled but polite expression that no doubt mirrored my own. This was odd. I’m pretty sure that there shouldn’t be two Course 3s starting at the same time. There was a bit of mutual shrugging and no-you-go-first-ing as we both grabbed our slips of paper and started to examine the contents. The brief tug-of-war hadn’t gone unnoticed and a flash of high-viz appeared from nowhere. It transpired we were both 11:05 starts We were both insistent. I pointed emphatically at the time on my bib where it clearly said 11:05. Not for today though, sadly. It said 11:05 for Tuesday, and since today was Thursday this wasn’t going to be particularly helpful. I looked again, and there it was, Day 4 – 11:13. I was early. I slipped as surreptitiously out of the pens as I could, having agreed with the official that as I hadn’t actually turned my exam paper over it was probably best all round if we just simply never spoke of this moment again.
Some time later I was somewhere near Control 3. It was a nice day and I’d been here a while admiring the view. I’d visited a couple of nearby controls, neither of which were mine, but which were both very pretty. I’d relocated and was pretty sure I was where I thought I was. The alternative was too awful to contemplate: Because if I wasn’t where I thought I was, where on earth was I? I started considering increasingly wild scenarios trying to match map to field. It wasn’t going well. Another couple of runners showed up and I helpfully told them about the nearby controls and how nice they were. I asked them if they’d come across 145 in their travels and was met with a cool stare. It happens. There was a lot of Paying it Forward this week, more than I recall for quite some time. I’d been asked for help quite a few times, even by blokes. Not because I’m good, but because I had spent a lot of time standing still and staring at my map with a furrowed brow. If you stand still long enough, someone will wander up to you and ask you where they are. They can’t do that with good orienteers because they’re too busy orienteering. Standing still instead of running also gives the ticks a bit of time to check you out.
I shrugged and said it again. Control 145. He looked at me suspiciously, then, apparently deciding it was a serious question, said, “this one here, you mean?”, pointing down at the control that was there, and was indeed, the one I meant. Well that was clever. If only I’d thought of turning my head 20 degrees and tilting it down 10, I would have seen the control cheerfully looking back at me with anthropomorphic indifference. I would love to have seen the funny side but I was too busy glaring resentfully at the control. It had clearly done that on purpose.
The day continued to be a bit rubbish, but there was still Day 5 to look forward to. The day when everything would change. The day it would suddenly all come together. Day 5 couldn’t be any worse, could it?
It didn’t disappoint. But the week ended with a run in some very nice new VJ Falcon spiky shoes that I’d bought earlier. Tip of the week: Don’t leave your Walshes on the roof of the car to dry. They’re grippy, but not that grippy.
Correspondence from Barry…
Following his brilliant “60 Seconds with…” interview last time out, Club Membership Secretary Barry Young sent in a follow up email with maps of one of the areas that he listed as his favourite.
Below are just a couple of maps covering 2 small parts of the Fossum area (near Oslo in Norway). The Fossum Idrettsforening sports club creates each year a Tur-O where from April to October you can run the area collect controls and send results in. As you can see it is a bit more complex than Houghall and hugely more extensive! There are multiple courses in the Fossum Tur-O but also similar Tur-O courses all over Norway!
Barry also highlighted that it has recently been in the news that two French orienteers walked south to north in Norway using a compass and 1 to 20:000 maps. This was a journey of approximately 3000km and was made over 83 days (beating their 100 day target). The website detailing their plans can be found here. They are also in the process of producing a documentary.
Barry suggests that we should do a similar challenge like north to south across Durham by the shortest route!
Introductory guide – What’s the Point!
A guide to ranking points (‘with a bit of a comedic edge’).
Some people may be aware of British Orienteering ranking points, but what are they? How do they work? And what on earth is the point in them? Ranking points are won by British Orienteering members (over the age of 16) at specific regional level or higher events and your best 6 events within the last year are added up to make an overall score. This score is then compared with all the other orienteers which gives you your final ranking position, but you can also compare yourself to others in your age class, region or even club! (I’m only 2nd , curse you Nigel).
The calculations to come up with these points are a dark art only known to the mythical orienteering overlords. This sounds confusing and unrewarding but safe to say they are worthwhile collecting due to the extreme satisfaction that comes from receiving an email a few days after the event informing you of your points and (hopefully) of your rise through the ranks. So, what is the point? Well, the point is there is no point; you make of it what you will, for some of us we wait in anticipation to see what points we have won, but for others the email is just another that is destined for the bin.
[Note from the Editor – for those wishing to enter the minds of the ”mythical orienteering overlords”, you can find the rules behind the calculations here]
Please send any contributions for the December newsletter to [email protected] by Sunday 20th November.