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An exciting outdoor sport that exercises body and mind

Orienteering is a wonderful sport in so many ways, and is a perfect way to develop your map and compass skills for both the individual and the competent navigator. The aim is to navigate between a series of pre-defined ‘control’ points on a map as quickly as you can, using a map and compass, and of course, your legs!

Courses vary in difficulty, with the easiest courses covering shorter distances with easy to find control points (e.g. large track junctions), and harder courses covering larger distances with difficult to find control points (e.g. hidden features), requiring route planning, use of bearings and pacing to find the control points.

The course may involve visiting the control points in numerical order, or, it may be a ‘score’ course, in which the individual has to visit as many control points as possible within a given time frame. The control points will be given different point values, depending on where they are. So, a control point located at a great distance from the start point, or in a difficult location to find, will be given higher value than a control point located near the start at an obvious and easy to find location. The added excitement to score courses is that points are deducted every minute the competitor runs over the allotted time.

Orienteering events occur all over the UK and are brilliant and great fun to take part in, pitting oneself against other likeminded folk.

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Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, orienteering can be undertaken as a sole or group activity, using apps such as ‘maprun’. In this case, a course is chosen, downloaded and printed out, and once started your mobile phones GPS is used to log control points as you find them. When you reach the finish, the app stops recording and uploads and displays the results on the maprun server, so you can see how you did compared to everyone else who has completed the course. Whether you are a beginner navigator who wants some practice, or a seasoned orienteer who fancies competing themselves against others, this is a great facility for developing and practicing your navigation.

At Yorkshire Dales Guides, we have developed a number of these courses located in the Yorkshire Dales for use in our own navigation courses, as well as for fun group events. So, if you are a group wanting an exciting and energetic day out, why not give it a try. Courses range from easy to difficult, and all materials are provided (specially printed map, compass). All you need to bring is your phone with the ‘maprun’ software installed, appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear (don’t worry, we’ll provide a list), a sense of adventure and we’ll sort the rest.

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