Excuse the slightly off topic post but it does have some summit relevance so please read on…
I am a long time orienteer (although not so active nowadays) and yesterday morning I decided it was time to introduce my 5 year old daughter to the joy of navigating around some terrain with a map and compass. Luckily there was a local event organised by Thames Valley Orienteering Club (TVOC) that was taking place on Wendover Woods (SOTA Ref. G/CE-005). As some of you may know, I live at the bottom of the hill so it made an easy trip to the event with no “are we there yet?” moments.
So following the “O” signs to the car park, I soon realised that it was actually the field with the Trig Point for Wendover Woods (look at my pictures on Flickr). It was rather strange to be driving across a frost laden, short cropped grass field (also now covered in huge cow pats) that was so different the last time I used it. That was the time last summer when Tom and Jimmy Read and I jointly activated the summit whilst sitting in waist high grass with the pair of them battling horrendous hay fever. It would have been different yesterday with a temperature of zero and a playful breeze whipping across the summit!
So having parked I went to see which course would be a good bet for Amy, although bear in mind I would be going with her. I had planned to let her do the “string” course where youngsters literally follow a string between controls and just have to concentrate on finding the red and white flags and punching a card. However we decided that we would do a “proper” course, albeit the easiest one at about 1.2 km and about 30m climb… A nice stroll for Dad (or so I thought).
So after a brief introduction to the Emit electronic timing and punching system that Amy was to use, it was off to the start about a 1000m away so we walked/shoulder carried to the start area.
Amy was getting more excited as we arrived at the start banner and when we were called forward by the starter with the other competitors on different courses, a seriously competitive streak emerged. We registered our start time with the Emit card and then set off for the first control. I was walking steadily and aimed to talk about the compass and the features on the map etc…
However, Amy merely turned around and shouted “run Daddy run… we have to win!” This “gentle” encouragement continued for the next 8 controls until we finished!
We did actually run where we could and Amy really enjoyed finding and checking the control flags ( I didn’t point them out) and the use of the Emit electronic timing card. It was her responsibility to do it quickly and accurately and she excelled at it.
It was a fantastic morning out on a SOTA summit, albeit with no radio activation and it did remind me that going orienteering takes you to places in a forest/on a hill where you might never normally go. We found some interesting new paths and stunning lookout points across the Vale of Aylesbury.
My ulterior motive of getting Amy interested in getting out and about with me with a map and compass… (maybe to a summit) might have worked. Although the competitive streak was something I had not expected!
So I wonder which other summits are also regular orienteering venues? I know that I competed in a long “O” event called the “Capricorn” some years ago all over Whernside… but there must be many more.
A little off topic… but a good summit day nevertheless.
73 Marc GØAZS