Woodchester Park Orienteering
Something a little bit different….find out how Angie Ayling got on with orienteering.
This was a novel event that I entered because several others at the club were going to come along too…..! As it was, I competed alone.
There was a choice of routes to go for; I thought it almost laughable when someone suggested I should chose the 3km route if I had not done orienteering before. That sounded much too tame! I opted for the ‘Short Green’ route which was about 4km – that is, if you kept to the most direct route at all times. Even this I thought would be pretty simple; pride comes before a fall!
I set off from the start, all geared up with my ‘dibber’ which would record each checkpoint. Within the first 200m, I needed help from a young boy who kindly pointed out on the map where I was, and thus guided me to checkpoint 1. Everyone out on the course was doing a wide variety of routes, so you could not reliably follow someone else; several checkpoints that you came across were, annoyingly, not the right ones for you.
I managed checkpoints 2 and 3 without difficulty; the trouble started at no. 4, where I did not bother to judge how far I should be going along a particular route (steep uphill, through dense undergrowth, having chosen the most direct route instead of the longer way round on a path). This was my undoing! Goodness knows how much later, after lots of going up and down, retracing my steps, trying different paths and using my compass and realising things were very wrong, I met someone who showed me where I was on my map – about 800m away from where I thought I was. By now I was on a much clearer path and found checkpoint 6, so I ‘dibbed’ that (probably a huge error; you are meant to do them in the right order, I expect!) and, from there, worked out how to get to no. 5 and, eventually, no. 4. So far so good. A good hour had passed by now; I did not dare look to see how far I had actually travelled!
Nos 7 and 8 were straightforward enough (though up extremely steep banks) and I was actually in a bit of the Park that I recognised, which was heartening. I headed off, on a compass bearing, for no. 9. This I failed to find for a good 20 minutes – at least, it felt that long! I went round and round, met some people I knew and tried to get a bit of advice from them, went round and round again and then, eventually, found it right near where I had been looking; I should have stayed on my compass bearing a bit longer! Lastly, on to no. 10 and then the finish marker. Phew! Over 2 hours for what should have taken about 1, with legs scratched to pieces (the experienced people all had long running tights on).
This was actually a fun event but, at times, I must admit I felt a bit desperate and wondered if I would be lost in the Park long after everyone else had finished! I now would like to do another one, so that I can put all my mistakes behind me – and put what I have learned to good use (e.g. reading a different sort of map with unfamiliar symbols and remembering to judge distances before zooming off!)