Group Leaders: Vernon & Geraldine Davis
What, you may ask, is Orienteering? Basically it’s just a treasure hunt. It can take place in woods, parks, urban areas or open moorland. Instead of clues you have a map showing you the location of each item of ‘treasure’, known in Orienteering as a control point. The art and the fun is in navigating your way from control point to control point around a set course as expeditiously as possible using just the map and a compass.
Orienteering is a worldwide sport that originated in Sweden at the end of the 19th C to train the military. In the UK there are numerous local clubs (there is one based in Nottinghamshire) under the umbrella of the British Orienteering Federation. Local clubs organise local events both summer and winter.
These events are competitive, on a timed basis. However, courses are planned for all levels of ability from absolute novices upwards. Furthermore, everybody competes within their own age and gender group. Participants’ ages range from 5 to 85 and beyond. The purpose is not so much to beat others but to improve one’s own navigational skills. It is a VERY inclusive sport with regard to age, ability and sex.
In order to encourage newcomers, clubs provide permanent courses, which are free to use. There are permanent courses laid out in several areas of local woodland, and it is these which the Retford U3A Orienteering Group is using to introduce members to the basic skills of map reading and taking bearings using a compass.
One of the side effects of Orienteering is to make participants far more aware of their surroundings and start to recognise features in the landscape which previously would have gone unnoticed. It also means that when you go out for walks on your own, as long as you have a map, you never have that sinking feeling of ‘where am I’.
If you would like to try your hand at Orienteering, all you need to start with is a reasonably stout and waterproof pair of trainers and a compass. Suitable compasses can be purchased for a few pounds. Other than that you need come prepared for no more than an interesting walk in the woods, possibly in the rain! Oh, and a coffee and a chat about the morning’s experiences afterwards.
If you would like any more information please contact either of the Group Coordinators.