November 6 marks the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest, a historic document that gave common people the right of access to royal forests. This can be seen as the first step in a campaign spanning centuries, seeking the legal guarantee of freedom for people to access our beautiful landscapes.
This anniversary brings to life the long history of the struggle for greater access to the countryside, a mission that is very close to many people’s hearts. But what do people want for the next 800 years? Now is your chance to share your views and help shape the future of access.
The Ramblers are kicking off a nationwide debate, gathering thoughts from everyone on what they would like the future of access to look like for the next 800 years.
Nicky Philpott, Ramblers director of advocacy and engagement said: “We know that access rights aren’t just important for walkers, but for many people enjoying the great outdoors. Being able to walk off the path and explore freely is particularly important for activities like orienteering, so we want to gather views from everyone on what they would like the future of access to look like.”
People are being asked to share their views by visiting www.ramblers.org.uk/accesssurvey.
You can find out more about this campaign here.
The East Anglia Orienteering Association was set up in 1971 by Richard Raynsford, with the individual clubs of Norfolk Orienteering Club, Suffolk Orienteering Club and West Anglian Orienteering Club developing over the following twelve months. Two Suffolk Orienteering Club members, John and June Webb, have been orienteering with Suffolk Orienteering Club almost from the beginning.
In 1986 the JK was hosted by East Anglia Orienteering Association, with events at Brandon and at Pretty Corner near Sheringham. June handled the entries and Suffolk Orienteering Club members spent time at the Webb’s house putting everything together. It was the first time the JK had had over 3000 entries – and this was in the days before electronic punching and almost-instantaneous online results, so the task involved preparing individually numbered punchcards for the event and labelled results envelopes for subsequent mailing to competitors. We also had the task of sorting 4000 randomly mixed second-hand bibs which arrived stuffed in large sacks.
During the preparations for the JK we visited the Forest of Dean and June was one of the first in Suffolk and in the country to have a massive dose of Lyme disease from an infected tick and the first case of Lyme’s to be seen at Ipswich hospital.
John wrote software for his Osborne computer so that June could compile the entry lists and the data was transmitted to Havering and South Essex Orienteering Club Keith Ryder’s BBC computer so he could produce computerised results. Keith’s son David later produced the Splits Browser which is nowadays included in the results.
The East Anglia Orienteering Association was later given an award by the Eastern Region Sports Council for the contribution made to sport by the staging of the JK. June was invited to the official presentation in Norwich and has fond memories of shaking hands with, and being photographed alongside, Sebastian Coe.
John remembers reading an article about Orienteering in the Daily Telegraph in 1970/71. The article, by Gordon Pirie, one of the UK’s top athletes of the time, inspired him to write off for more information but he was informed that there was no orienteering in his neighbourhood. Towards the end of 1972 he received a letter notifying him of an event to take place in the Tangham area of Rendlesham Forest, so he decided to give it a go. This was the first event held by the newly formed Suffolk Orienteering Club and John joined the club soon afterwards.
June, on the other hand, became interested in the sport through her son, a pupil at St Joseph’s College in Ipswich, where Brother William (then Treasurer of BOF and a keen orienteer) was a member of staff. On an open day, June’s family took part in a course which Brother William had set up in the school grounds. June was already running a Girl Guide company and Brother William agreed to instruct them in the basics of orienteering, starting with a slide show and later holding training sessions at the school for several weeks. The bus trips to the events proved to be very popular with the Guides!
June’s first husband died suddenly when their family was still relatively young, but June continued to foster an interest in orienteering in her children and in her Guide company. It was at a training event which June arranged for a group of Guides at a Youth Hostel that June first met John, who, together with Denis Arnold, had volunteered to coach the session.
Maps in the early days were very simple black and white affairs; the Rendlesham Forest map was relatively complicated.
John produced the first 5 colour Suffolk Orienteering Club map (Bentley Woods), drawn upon a multitude of superimposed sheets of tracing film. Unfortunately, the person looking after the tracings decided that they were no longer of interest as Bentley Woods had changed hands and disposed of them, much to John’s disappointment. Geoff Hill was one of the first people in the country to produce computer drawn pre-marked maps, printed on the professionally-printed blank map. Otherwise, pre-marked maps were produced with much swearing and inky fingers on an overprinting “machine” (a supersized John Bull printing outfit). The East Anglia Orienteering Association overprinter still resides in the Webb’s loft.
John and June competed on a regular basis, attending not only the local events but the multi-day events such as the JK, the White Rose and the Karrimor. June remembers attending a Swedish 5-day orienteering event with 20,000 competitors. “Amazing experience. One boulder looked like another”. She developed an allergy to peppers but still ran her courses despite being sick. Asked in a radio interview whether she would return to Sweden, June had to admit that it was unlikely due to the high cost of living.
Both John and June have served on the Suffolk Orienteering Club committee: June wrote the Punch newsletter for a while and was Club Treasurer for many years while John supplied much technical expertise. As for publicity, June remembers spending many days delivering posters to libraries and schools before the days of websites and Facebook.
June also became a coach for the club and in this capacity, with a friend, a teacher from Barnardiston Hall School, hired Santon Downham Village Hall and ran a course for the pupils. In the morning they played “O” games and then the children (in pairs & with helpers) went out into the forest to try real orienteering. The school set up its own basic orienteering course in the grounds of the Hall and has been successfully involved in orienteering ever since.
John and June, together with John and Jenny Collyer from Essex Stragglers (SOS), also instigated the Essex & Suffolk Schools Orienteering League and are justifiably proud of its continuing success.
Photo credit: Chris Gay, Suffolk Orienteering Club
“John and June are stalwarts of SUFFOC. Without the dedication and enthusiasm from members like the Webbs, Orienteering would cease as the sport needs willing volunteers. It’s a well-established fact that volunteering in any capacity gives the individual a sense of worth and hence adds to their well-being. For John and June, it also leads to personal happiness…but this aspect cannot be guaranteed for everyone!.”
British Orienteering would like to take this opportunity to thank both John and June for their volunteering over the years and for their continued commitment to the sport and to their club. It is great to see how orienteering has developed over the years.
British Orienteering is celebrating 50 years this year! British Orienteering would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the dedicated people from every part of the UK who have contributed so much to British Orienteering’s growth and development over the years.
Have you or your club have got a similar story which you would like to share with other members?
If you have, then please get in touch. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This scheme has been successfully designed by British Orienteering to support outdoor education centres to deliver a positive first experience of orienteering to their customers. As part of British Orienteering’s commitment to supporting the outdoor industry, carefully selected advisors work in partnership with outdoor centre staff to deliver a positive first experience of orienteering to their customers.
There a number of processes that the outdoor education centres have to go through before they become recognised (see diagram 1 below). Recognised Centre Status customers the assurance of a good orienteering experience.
From the outdoor centre’s perspective, being part of the British Orienteering Recognised Centre scheme not only allows them to promote their recognised centre status on all of their publicity and promotional materials and websites but they can stand out from other centres by being able to demonstrate a positive first experience. This allows centres who are part of the scheme to promote added value to their customers resulting in increased bookings at their centre and provide excellent customer satisfaction to those who wish to try orienteering for the first time or expand on their existing skills. British Orienteering believes from talking to the outdoor centres who have already become part of the scheme that being part of the scheme helps to give them the extra edge over their competitor centres and ultimately increasing bookings and sales.
British Orienteering’s accredited Recognised Centres are great places to be used by members, clubs and training camps for all their training needs. They are a great way for coaches from any club or squad to use as a venue and provide comfortable accommodation and facilities.
South Midlands Orienteering Club had 16 people from their club who wanted a weekend of coaching focused on contours at Plas y Brenin – the National Mountain Sports Centre. Plas y Brenin had been successful in achieving British Orienteering Recognised Centre status and met all the criteria necessary to become an accredited centre.
The group from South Midlands Orienteering Club was hosted by Plas y Brenin, with Orienteering Coach Helena Burrows facilitating the weekend. The first day of coaching took place on Braich Bryn Engan, and the second at Newborough on the Isle of Anglesey.
Outdoor Centres are supported by British Orienteering advisors who work with them to meet a set of criteria demonstrating that the centres provide a positive first experience of orienteering.
British Orienteering has 13 outdoor education centres who have successfully achieved accreditation to the scheme and there are 10 more centres currently going through the process. Hopefully, they will soon be successful in achieving the requirements set by British Orienteering and meet the criteria to qualify and be part of the scheme.
Arran Outdoor Centre (Isle of Arran, West Coast of Scotland),
Cliffe House Outdoor Study and Conference Centre (Kirklees Council, Shepley, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire)
Dolphin House Activity Centre (Culzean Castle and Country Park, Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland)
East Lothian Council Outdoor Learning Service (Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland)
The Frank Chapman Centre (Bewdley, Worcestershire)
Hill End Centre (Farmoor, Oxford)
Plas y Brenin – National Mountain Centre (Conwy, Wales)
Entrust Standon Bowers Outdoor Centre (Standon, Stafford)
JCA Condover Hall Activity Centre (Shrewsbury, Shropshire)
Kingswood – Colomendy (Denbighshire, North Wales)
Kingswood Dearne Valley (Denaby, Conisbrough, South Yorkshire)
Kingswood Overstrand Hall (Norfolk)
Kingswood West Runton (Cromer, Norfolk)
To find out more about British Orienteering Accredited Recognised Centres to take your club or group to can be found here.
1. East Lothian Council Outdoor Learning Service and Dolphin House Activity Centre have both been used by local schools for organising orienteering competitions.
2. Cliffe House Outdoor Study and Conference Centre have group bookings and will be hosting a range of Teaching Orienteering and Coaching Courses at their centre with many groups booked in and using the accommodation at the centre at the end of November.
3. Hill End Centre, Arran Outdoor Centre, Dolphin House Activity Centre, East Lothian Council Outdoor Learning Service have all had group bookings over the last two months and have hosted a range of orienteering courses which has brought in new revenue streams to their centres.
4. Kingswood Colomendy have both recently hosted Youth Orienteering Camps at their outdoor centres with school groups using the grounds for orienteering activities which has also ensured additional income streams from schools using the accommodation and facilities.
More information about British Orienteering’s Recognised Centre scheme can be found here.
There are many orienteering clubs already being enjoyed by many students at their Universities whilst studying across the UK. University Orienteering is a great place to either continue involvement in the sport or start it from new.
Jennie Taylor, Communications Officer, caught up with Briony Kincaid at Edinburgh University Orienteering Club. Briony now Secretary of Edinburgh University Orienteering Club tells why she continued to enjoy the sport of orienteering even when she left her home club to start University.
Briony Kincaid, Secretary of Edinburgh University Orienteering Club, said:
“When I was choosing which university to go to I was determined that orienteering would not be a factor in my decision. Having been orienteering since I was about 10 and having been in the Scottish Junior Squad I already knew many of the orienteers at the University of Edinburgh and I was determined that I wouldn’t just fall in with the people I already knew and liked, and not make new friends. I still managed to end up in Edinburgh though and the orienteering club has been a large part of my time here. I’ve met new orienteers from all over the world who have been drawn to Edinburgh and we have a great time, although, I should say, I have made some other friends too.
The University Club offers something for everyone. We have complete beginners, both of the super speedy and the jogging kind, those who have dabbled in it and only really taken it up at University, people who have been doing it for as long as they can remember, and the top athletes who train hard, race hard and despite their partying hard, still manage to win. We’re a small club in comparison with the likes of the university’s hockey club, we’ve got 47 members this year yet of these 47, most are involved in much of what we do. This means that everyone gets to know each other very well, and it is a bit like a family.
Edinburgh University Orienteering Club is a busy club with organised training on Tuesdays (intervals), Wednesdays (long run) and Thursdays (orienteering). We also have our weekly social pasta night on Wednesdays. In addition to this about once a month we set off for the weekend, this for me is the best bit. We set off on a Friday evening usually for some part of Scotland or the Lake District with some good terrain for training or competition or a mixture and I return on a Sunday evening reinvigorated and ready to face the city again. And if all these trainings don’t fulfil your quota of Edinburgh University Orienteering Club time, people often post on our Facebook group about what other training they’re doing and ask for companions. Then we have socials and summer trips and we even host our own event, the Big Weekend in January. Entries are now open for this event by the way.
Being on the committee last year and this year has enabled me to see much more behind-the-scenes of orienteering. I understand more about British Orienteering and the Scottish Orienteering Association and how these bodies function now. Whilst I perhaps haven’t greatly improved my orienteering since coming to university, I’ve seen it in a different light. It’s not just something that you get a lift to with another family at a weekend or go along to a local event. Or even going on junior tours. All the organisation and time which is given by all these people who love the sport is impressive. I think orienteering is a wonderful sport and I’ve been able to share this with so many people. When I graduate I’ll definitely be taking happy memories with me.”
Thank you, Briony. This is really insightful. It is great to hear your continued enjoyment for the sport of orienteering.
Orienteering is a challenging outdoor adventure sport that exercises both the mind and the body. The aim is to navigate in sequence between control points marked on a unique orienteering map and decide the best route to complete the course in the quickest time. It does not matter how young, old or fit you are, as you can run, walk or jog the course and progress at your own pace.
Here are details of these orienteering clubs with contact links for each:
More information about these clubs can be found here.
If you are interested in setting up a University Orienteering club or group and would require support and advice, please email the National Office.
Interested in orienteering, but just want to know more? Find out more here.
Photo credit: Rona Lindsay