Archive for the ‘Orienteering’ Category

A weekend of two halves

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

This weekend saw the traditional opener to the orienteering season – the Aire weekend in the Dales.

Saturday's weather could hardly have been better, with blue skies, sunshine, and a pleasant breeze. Having done no running for weeks due to various injuries, I decided to ease myself in gently by doing the longest hardest course available, Black. Expecting to come last, I surprised myself to finish 16th out of 18.

Today was not a good day to be out on the hills, so I decided in advance to go for the Blue course, at 5.7km. Of course when I arrived I found myself entering Short Brown instead, 7.1km. Oops. Most of the next 2 hours was spent wandering round in circles in zero visibility trying to work out which knoll in the sea of knolls was the right one. The answer was, none of them, I was 200m too far west. If this had been a mountain marathon I'd have liked the conditions, as it would have given me the chance of gaining a few places on the fell runners who can't navigate. However, being an orienteering event, there are shit-hot navigators all over the place, so in the end I finished a very wet 19th out of 20. But still did better than the 12 who dropped out without finishing!

Next it's the RAB mountain marathon, in 2 weeks time. Hope the weather's more like yesterday than today!

Bowland Challenge 2011

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

We were due to join the club in Blaenau Ffestiniog, but the forecast was awful and we couldn't face yet another weekend of walking up wet Welsh hills, so decided instead to walk up some wet Lancastrian hills.

The Bowland Challenge has been running for about 5 years now, and YAC have entered one or two teams every year (except last year when it was cancelled due to access problems). Rather embarrassingly, after finishing 2nd in the first event, we have won it every year since.

It's a sort of cross between a score orienteering event and a treasure hunt. There are somewhere between 70 and 100 controls worth between 2 and 20 points each, and you have 10 hours to score as many points as possible. With this number of checkpoints it's not possible to put control markers out, so instead there are grid references with associated "clues" with multiple choice answers, things like "during whose reign was the post box built?" or "what is the number of the trig point?". And to add a bit of complication, there is a designated "lunch" spot part way round which you have to visit, and you also have to say what time you'll get there. Too late and you lose points, too early and you can't set off again until the appointed time.

We decided on a long anti-clockwise loop, with a lunch stop at Langden Castle in the heart of the Bowland Forest (it sounds romantic but is actually just an old barn used as a shooting lodge). In the morning we stayed mostly high, in near-constant wind and rain, we were so wet it was actually good fun (apart from one section through continuous peat bogs). We walked most of it but were forced to run down the last valley to avoid being late for our lunch stop, which we made with a couple of minutes to spare.

After lunch, most of the route was unfortunately along roads – the organisers had had to cancel the intended checkpoints on the hills as the grouse were late fledging and the landowner didn't want them disturbed before they're shot next month. But the scenery through the Trough of Bowland was good anyway, and better still it stopped raining, with even some sunshine at times. We failed to find a couple of the checkpoints but rather than waste time looking, we just ploughed on, again walking throughout until forced to run the last half mile to return to the event centre a minute early.

We covered about 32 miles with 1200m ascent, and managed to win again. If only the winners from the first event would show up again, or maybe some proper fell runners, and return us to our rightful place as also-rans!

Great organisation as usual, I'd recommend the event to anyone wanting something a bit different.

Our route here.
More information about The Bowland Challenge.

Stoney Middleton

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Just a brief report, as the trip was 3 months ago so my memory is hazy!

This was a new hut for the club, in the village of Stoney Middleton, just up the road from the famous limestone crag.

On Saturday, Carmen and I decided to make the most of the location, and walked to the local crag. For some strange reason we decided to warm up on Froth, a fine 2-pitch VS. Carmen led the first (4b), which the guidebook led us to believe was a polished horror. It actually turned out to have some fine climbing, with some nice bridging, laybacking, jamming and thrutching, well worth a star or two in its own right. I did the second pitch, a long 4c traverse, which I decided to make harder by faffing as much as possible, and going backward and forward enough time to ensure I was completely pumped before I eventually committed to the crux.

After this, Carmen led Asparagus (VS 4b) – again not as polished as expected, we might have gone off route near the top when we traversed right to avoid an unprotected vegetated crack. And we finished up with Glory Road, another VS 4b. I led the first pitch, a Diff-ish chimney, then Carmen led the steep and slightly shiny second pitch, luckily steep enough that it didn't get too wet when it started to rain.

Meanwhile, the others headed for Froggatt where all sorts of things were climbed, including Sunset Slab, Sunset Crack, Turret Crack, Trapeze, and Allen's Slab.

The next day, it rained.

Carmen and I went for some orienteering near Harborough Rocks, after which we went to explore Rainster Rocks (Brassington). Given the weather we left the climbing kit in the car, though in the event it was dry enough for some easy soloing and we could have done some harder things if we'd brought rock shoes!

The others went for a very wet walk in the Hope Valley, while Debra sensibly went home!

Carmen's and my photos here
Debra's photos here.

Yet more sunshine

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Luckily the rain will return tomorrow and put a stop to all this outdoor enjoyment nonsense.

Carmen races off at the startToday's sun was in the unlikely setting of some woodland east of Scunthorpe. The event was the Lincolnshire Bomber Long O, a 20km orienteering course, which was to serve as the final (and, indeed, the first) training for next weekend's GL3D.

Almost caught upWe were taken to the start by minibus, and made our way back via a long dog-leg of woodland. And very nice it all was too. Mostly native trees with their associated birdlife, and a complete lack of the brambles so often found in orienteering woods. It was all pretty runnable, the limiting factor being a lack of fitness and ability, but somehow we kept going. The water and (more important) banana provided at the last road crossing were vital in getting us to the end, I for one was running on empty for the last 20 minutes.

Always please to be photographedCarmen started 10 minutes before me, and it wasn't until the 10th control (out of 30) that I eventually passed and pulled away from her. I finished in 2 hours 22 minutes, which I was rather pleased with, despite being well down the field – the winner took an impossible 87 minutes! Carmen did rather better, taking 3 hours 12 minutes, which was only 15 minutes or so behind the fastest female.

Details/results/pictures can be found here.

Trial by name…

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Yesterday at some stupid early hour, Carmen and I set off to Hayfield for the Kinder Trial, a fell runner's version of orienteering – lots of running with a bit of navigation.

We had to visit 10 controls in any order, though in practice the main choice was just whether to do the circuit clockwise or anti-clockwise. I went for the anti-clockwise option, as it would hopefully leave a long downhill run from the last control to the finish. Coincidentally, Carmen made the same choice, but I soon managed to shake her off so she had to make her own mistakes for most of the race rather than copying mine!

The weather stayed cold and cloudy, with regular snow flurries, but the clouds were well clear of the tops all day. Which was a shame, as it gave less advantage to those of us who can navigate OK but can't run for toffee (it's a well known fact that 98% of fell runners don't know what a map is). At least most of the boggy bits were well frozen.

It was mostly great fun (in an exhausting sort of way), and visited some parts of the Kinder area that people wouldn't normally see. The main exception to the 'great fun' rule being the planned easy run down from the last control, which by the route I choose mainly consisted for the first mile or so of deep exhausting heather. I'm told that there was a runnable route available if you looked in the run place. Arse.

There's a map of the route here.

And some photos here and here

Vital statistics:
about 11 miles/2600 feet ascent.
153 started, 136 finished.
The winning time was an amazing 1:49:28, the final finisher took 4:55:59. I was 67th in 2:46:17 and Carmen was 108th (20th female) in 3:34:12

Please sir, I want some more…

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

One weekend running around in foul weather wasn't enough, so at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning, Carmen and I headed off to Edale for the Dark & White Mini Mountain Marathon – a 3 hour score event. As forecast, the cloud was low, it was drizzling, and it was windy – ideal conditions in fact.

After a 5 minute warm up running through the village and fields, and it was steeply uphill to the first control, on the lower slopes of Kinder, where we reached the cloud base. An easy run on paths for a mile or so, then it was north west into the uncharted peat fields, heading for a control on the far side of the plateau. My navigation was spot on as usual, so we only wasted 15 minutes trying to work out where on earth we were once we reached the edge. Luckily, I guessed right, and we soon found the control.

Down the other side towards Snake Pass, steep heather slopes finally giving way to a good path. After following this to the next side valley, we gave up hope of another 30-pointer further down, and it was back up and over the top, this time without going wrong. A control near Nether Edge, then down towards civilisation, and a mad dash along public footpaths to pick up an extra control, arriving back in Edale with 90 seconds to spare.

150 points, which was enough to put us in 1st place out of 11 teams in the mixed pairs class, three cheers for us! The leader in the men's class somehow managed 268 points or so, which can't have been far off every control.

Somewhat disappointingly, there were no TV crews waiting at the finish, despite the biblical weather, and the fact that at that time almost half the competitors were unaccounted for.

The next event in the Dark and White league is on 7th December, somewhere in the northern Peak District.

Tis the season to get lost

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Niched WallTis the season to get lost again and again and again……(well for me anyway) which is a little harsh on everyone else.  Yes, it’s o-ing time again and so Simon C, myself and Rob headed down to the Peak for a South Yorkshire Orienteers event held at Treeton.  The clouds increased the further south we got, but it stayed dry (the puddles on the roads suggested it had only recently finished pouring though).

Shallow Rib (VDiff)Rob and I opted for the blue course, while Simon as ever went for brown (the longest).  For those not aware of the orienteering scale it goes white, yellow, orange, red, light green, green, blue, brown with increasing length of courses and technical difficulty – although the latter has already reached maximum at green.  Anyway Simon had a good run and was pleased to finish well within brown standard.  Rob had been going relatively well (compared with me) with just a couple of time consuming controls and was somewhat surprised to find himself disqualified – having inadvertently missed out two of the controls altogether.

Rebaissance HVS 5bNo surprise that they were both sunning themselves at the car when I finished.  I had got myself lost far too many times and the only positive points I could muster were that I completed the course and always managed to locate myself again – it is so much easier finding the controls when you know where you are.  (And also did better than Rob – ed).  I was amazed to find that I hadn’t come last given the numerous errors.

CurbarBy the time I had finished the clouds had dispersed and left a clear blue sky so naturally we wasted a good hour or so debating where to go.  Eventually, Baslow was the chosen crag as none of us was feeling that energetic after the run.  It was well worth the bit of a drive over, as we were rewarded with glorious warm sunshine and lovely views of Curbar and surrounding fields in the autumnal light, followed by an even better sunset.  An array of easy routes were soloed mainly by Rob and Simon.  Rob led Niched Wall (S) which Simon had abandoned (ie wimped out of – ed), opting for Death to Khomeini (VS 4b)  instead.  Which were pleasant little routes.  We also threw a rope down an unprotected 5b to finish off on.  A good day out and a nice surprise end to the day given the cloudy and damp start.

More photos, by Simon and Rob