A Different Way to Explore North Yorkshire!
Orienteering is a very family-orientated sport. You can take part non-competitively and explore the countryside at your own pace. A child can compete on a course at the same time as a pensioner, which is something that is very unique in sport!
When you are out and about, exploring North Yorkshire’s wonderful historic towns and villages or walking on its beautiful moors or in its stunning woodlands, you may catch sight of colourfully-clad runners with maps and compasses in their hands. Sometimes, you will see one of them dart towards an orange and white kite and wave their hand over it. If you are close enough, you may even hear a distinctive beep. They are orienteers, taking part in an orienteering event.
The idea is simple. You are given a map of the area. Marked on it is a set of numbered circles connected by straight lines. The circles are called controls and at the centre of each one on the ground there will be an orange and white kite and a playing card-sized box to record the time you arrived there. All you have to do is visit each control in number order. The challenge is that you must choose your own route between controls.
In a town the line connecting two controls will nearly always pass through buildings. You, of course, will have to go round. On the moors and in the woods, you may not be able to follow a straight-line route because of thick vegetation, lakes or marshes, crags or high fences. But there will be at least one, and probably more than one, way to get to the next control. Your aim is to complete the course as quickly as you can travelling at a pace that suits your age, fitness and ability. Although there is serious competition, you choose how competitive you want to be.
We have already said this is a sport which spans the ages, from children to pensioners. For the youngest, there is sometimes a ‘string course’ where they follow a rope around a simple course. They can then progress from easy courses, sticking to paths, through intermediate to hard courses, where detailed interpretation of the map is necessary to find controls.
For the young and fit there are long courses, for the older and not-so-fit, shorter courses will be planned. There is also trail-O, no running involved, where there are several kites at each control site and you have to decide by studying the map carefully which is in the right place, and mountain bike orienteering.
Eborienteers is the orienteering club covering York, Selby and the north east of the county. The other club in North Yorkshire is Claro, which covers Harrogate, Ripon and surrounding areas. Clubs from neighbouring counties, Airienteers and Cleveland Orienteers, also organise events in parts of North Yorkshire.
Eborienteers has a full programme each year in areas ranging from the forests and moorlands of the North York Moors and the gentler terrain of the Vale of York to the city of York itself, Scarborough, Malton and Pickering. It also has club nights every week in the school term at which non-members are welcome.
Two events feature prominently in the Eborienteer calendar. One is the York City event, based in and around the historic centre of York which takes place on Spring Bank
Holiday each year.
The other is the White Rose meeting. This is a four-day event starting on the Friday before the August Bank Holiday, held at a different location each year, usually on the southern edge of the North York Moors.
In recent years Scarborough, Helmsley, Duncombe Park, Dalby Forest and Pickering have hosted the White Rose meeting.
The programme for the weekend includes a night event with torches, a fast and furious (for some) sprint, two classic orienteering races on the Saturday
and Sunday, a relay race on Bank Holiday Monday, as well as trail-O and mountain bike orienteering.
Newcomers to the sport are especially welcome at all Eborienteers’ events where you will find that help and advice is always available. If you let the club know you are coming to your first event, a qualified coach can be there to assist.
We look forward to seeing you.
This family-friendly sport is fun, healthy and helps improve your navigational skills.
Sounds great! Where can I find out more?
Permanent Orienteering Courses are a great way to get outside and go orienteering at a time and place that suits you. Permanent Orienteering Courses are a great way to get outside and go orienteering at a time and place that suits you. Courses offer a huge range of variety, from urban courses in city centres to rural routes through beautiful scenery. They are on your doorstep or further afield helping you to discover new places. UK events, clubs and permanent orienteering courses are listed at www.britishorienteering.org.uk/goorienteering. There is a list of Xplorer activities suitable for young families looking to get into orienteering. Try orienteering today!
What sort of areas are used for orienteering?
Anywhere from the streets of Central London to wilderness areas in the Scottish Highlands. Venues including forests, parks, moorland, town centres, and university campuses.
Will there be an orienteering course for me?
Almost certainly. Most events have several courses of different length and difficulty graded by colour. ‘White’, ‘Yellow’ and ‘Orange’ courses are designed for complete beginners. Some events use the equally beginner friendly ‘score’ format, where you choose the controls to visit in the time limit.
What do I do at an event?
Clubs pride themselves on their welcoming approach to newcomers, so will happily spend time helping you. Here is a rough idea of what you’ll do:
What equipment do I need?
If you intend to run you’ll need running clothes and trainers, including long running trousers if the event is in the countryside. If you intend to walk, walking boots or trainers are OK. A compass is very useful particularly for the more difficult courses (you can use a smartphone compass).
Don’t you get lost all the time?
No. Everyone gets lost sometimes, but you work out where you are sooner or later. Orienteering controls are closely spaced, so you can always retrace your steps to the previous control.
Do you have to be able to run for hours?
No. Courses come in a variety of lengths and navigational difficulty. Participants can walk, jog or run, can treat the event as a competition or as a leisure activity.
Can I run in a pair or in a group?
Do I need to be a club member?
No. Newcomers normally join a club after about 3 events.
Is orienteering affordable?
Yes. Adult fees are typically £5 for a small event, to £10-£15 for a medium/large event. Low cost doesn’t mean low quality though. Club orienteering events are typically very well organised with plenty of experienced volunteers.
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