A passion for orienteering can take you to a range of different places, from rural settings to urban jungles. Course designers tend to choose places of interest so that participants can get lots of sensory thrills whilst they are navigating the course. On the other hand, some designers have been known to create courses in very barren landscapes to really test the skills of participants.
There are numerous permanent orienteering courses (POC) across the United Kingdom (search here), and there are even more options available once you take into account temporary courses that are created specifically for fun runs and competitive events.
There are plenty of opportunities to try orienteering in Cumbria, because the wonderful landscape throws up a lot of physical and navigational challenges.
Grizedale Forest has an interesting selection of permanent orienteering courses which cater for a different range of styles and abilities. Suggested courses range from 2km to 4.2 km in length, and waterproof maps are available from the visitors centre for just £2.
In addition to the walking/running routes, there are also cycle orienteering routes for those who prefer to do their trails on a bike. The “mushroom cycle trail” is great for kids to try on their bikes, whereas the alternative cycle course has a high difficulty level and should only be attempted by the most confident cycle orienteering participants.
London is a really exciting place to try your hand at urban orienteering, as well as putting your skills to the test on parkland orienteering courses.
The urban landscape of London means that you many have the opportunity to race past some iconic London locations. If you want to try your hand at urban orienteering, you should get in contact with the London orienteering klubb, as they organise a lot of events around temporary courses. They will also be able to tell you whether the event welcomes non-club members and they can give you advice about whether it would be suitable for a person of your abilities.
Alternatively, try one of the permanent orienteering courses that can be found in a few of London’s extensive parks. These courses offer London dwellers the chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
High Weald is an Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB) in the South East of England, which means that it is an ideal place to try orienteering if you appreciate the scenery.
Bewl Water is one of the largest stretches of open water in the country, and is surrounded by gorgeous natural parkland.
Spread throughout this parkland there are courses ranging from beginner options through to experienced courses. Bewl Water also offers a number of different outdoor pastimes, so you can make a day of it if you are out with your family.
The countryside around Inverness hosts some of the most Northerly permanent orienteering courses in the country. The club in this hosts regular events to give member the opportunity to explore the Highlands of Scotland. The course at Nairn Links features on the world championship schedule, but an adapted course has also been created for those who are only beginners.
There are hundreds of other courses dotted about the British countryside and throughout urban locations across the UK. To find out more about courses near to you, visit the British Orienteering website. The website offers details of all permanent and semi-permanent courses, as well as providing a number of different maps for download, so that participants can take a look at the area before they make the trip.