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Tweet Friday 25th August 2017

Three generations enjoy Scottish 6-Days again!


Once the orienteering bug has bitten, it gets transmitted further from generation to generation.  Many orienteering clubs in the UK have families with two or even three active generations. 

Take the Bryan-Jones / Patton / Spenceley family who are all members of Forth Valley Orienteers (FVO) for example.  Here we have:

Gareth Bryan-Jones (M70) and Jan Bryan-Jones (W70), with their children Kirsty (W45) and Julie (W45).   The Bryan-Jones family consists of three active orienteering generations:  two grandparents, four parents and six grandchildren.  To the core 12, they also have their niece Emma, her husband Adrian and children Jess and Tash, and a friend, making 17 in all.

Glen Tanar Arena at this year's Scottish 6-Days 2017. Credit Colin Matheson

Holidaying all together again this year in Scotland they each tell about their experience of the orienteering and the family holiday linked to the orienteering at the Scottish 6-Days this year.

GARETH AND JAN started orienteering in 1973 and have been to every Scottish 6-Day Event. 

“As our family grew up they started orienteering, with the 6-Days becoming a regular bi-ennial holiday.  Starting in 1995 we have tried to find a large holiday house where all the family can stay together for the event.  After the 3rd generation came on the scene in 2002 and then increased in number, we had to find ever larger and larger houses, and for 2017, all 17 of us were staying in Mar Lodge, which was fantastic.  Mar Lodge has 4 or 5 apartments and most of them were taken by orienteers for the 6-Day week. 

As a holiday week, the “Apres-O” has always been an important part of the week, ranging from organising whisky tastings to the FVO afternoon tea, this year with around 80 people.  As the family tells of their Deeside experience both O and Apres-O feature strongly.”

GARETH:  “One of the best things about the 6-Days is meeting old friends.  People I used to run with in athletics and cross country back in the 1960’s.  Walking to the start with some of these old friends, catching up on family news.”

JAN:  “I’m very slow, I take a stick to help me and I walk carefully, though I usually know where I am and where I am going.  Out in the forest, it is great when I meet up with one of the grandchildren. I love hearing the grandchildren shouting ‘Come on granny’ as I come along the run-in.  Being part of the club is good, there is a great camaraderie, everyone is so friendly and it is a great mix of all ages.”

Grand children at Tentsmuir 2009 - first 6-Days as competitors on the white course.
Jan Bryan-Jones at Creag Choinnich.  Credit: Wendy  Carlyle

DAUGHTER KIRSTY and Simon Patton (M50), and have children Ellen (W16) and Euan (M14).

KIRSTY:  “I remember enjoying Highland 77 as a seven-year-old and have been lucky enough to go to all the 6 days since. From building hides and playing in the forest as a kid, socialising as a teenager, competing seriously as a W21, introducing my own kids to the fun of the string course and colour coded to now enjoying the whole family competing independently – the 6 days has been a fantastic experience over the years. It is great to catch-up with childhood, university and new friends and to spend time with the whole family including grandparents, siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces.

We are in no way unique, as in FVO alone there are several 3-generations families competing and holidaying together at this year’s 6-days including the Malloy-MacLeod family; the Finch family; the Melville family; the Hensman-Inman family and the Cross family.

Ellen and Euan:  “We really enjoyed the orienteering, although it was very challenging some days, and staying with all the cousins! The FVO run in competition was great and there was always excitement in comparing splits with each other. This run-in competition is a head-to-head knock-out based on run-in times and is very exciting. We are both very keen to run at Strathearn 2019!”

Patton family orienteering at Balfour. Credit:  Wendy  Carlyle
Taking part at Creag Choinnich. Credit:  Wendy Carlyle

DAUGHTER JULIE and Neil Spenceley (M45), and have children Dougal (M16), Rory (M14), Campbell (M12) and Isla (W10).

JULIE:  “It is wonderful for people with such a range of ages to be able to talk about things in common from the orienteering, the same controls and the same difficult bits.  A 14-year-old and a nearly fifty-year-old with a shared experience and discuss with maps out and poring over them. Meeting each other in the forest, and sometimes one of the children would say ‘Granny saved me when I was a bit lost’.  Also socialising and watching the run-in for family and friends, cheering them on and soaking up the atmosphere.”

Neil:  “I loved that all generations could join in the same sport.  Naivety to wisdom.  Fitness with skill.  For the kids, and the adults, great for life skills, team play as part of the club, learning from each other and supporting each other.”

Dougal:  “Orienteering teaches you to be responsible for yourself.  I liked the friendliness and helpfulness of the other orienteers if I was having difficulty or was a bit lost.  Rest day mountain biking and being able to go short bike rides in the Mar Lodge, without grown-ups was good and jumping into the Linn of Dee from the rocks was great.”

Campbell: “I enjoyed coming 2nd the best! Also the rest day mountain biking and staying at Mar Lodge. All the other orienteers were very friendly which was good.”

Isla: “Running on the run-in, checking the numbers and using the dibber when the number was right. After the orienteering the best was going on our bikes to the Linn of Dee and swimming and then on two other days going in the car with our wet suits and jumping in from the high rocks.”

Spenceley family at Balfour
Orienteering at Creag Choinnich.  Credit:  Wendy Carlyle
Taking part at Glen Fearder.  Credit: Wendy Carlyle

Thank you to the Bryan-Jones, Patton and Spenceley family for sharing their individual orienteering experiences.

Photos kindly supplied by the Bryan-Jones / Patton / Spenceley family.

Scottish 6 Days 2017:  Upper Deeside and the Invercauld Estate.  Credit: Colin Matheson
Braemar Castle.  Credit: Colin Matheson

Jennie Taylor, Communications Officer at British Orienteering says: “Orienteering is really unique in that the main appeal is that it's a very family-orientated sport. A grandchild can compete at the same orienteering event with their grandmother or grandfather and with their mother or father.  This is unique to our sport and provides a great opportunity to enjoy family time together.

If you are new to orienteering and haven’t yet taking part in the Scottish 6-Days then this is a family holiday to maybe consider? The next Scottish 6-Days Orienteering Event takes place again in 2019.  This gives plenty of time to book accommodation early and make arrangements with the rest of your family and friends.”


To find out more, visit:

You can watch footage here from the 2017 Scottish 6 Days Orienteering Festival at Glen Tanar, Royal Deeside. 


Further news stories about the Scottish 6-Days can be found at the links below:

Chris James presented with British Orienteering 50th Anniversary Award at Scottish 6-Days

Royal Deeside 2017 Scottish 6 Days - Day 1, Glen Tanar

Royal Deeside 2017 Scottish 6 Days - Day 2, Balfour Woods

Royal Deeside 2017 Scottish 6 Days - Day 3, Birsemore

In best Scottish 6 Days tradition the middle of the week counts as a “rest” day.

Royal Deeside 2017 Scottish 6 Days - Day 4, Creag Choinnich

Royal Deeside 2017 Scottish 6 Days - Day 5, Glen Feardar

Royal Deeside 2017 Scottish 6 Days - Day 6, Glen Feardar West