Wednesday, December 13, 2006

So what's the score with Score Orienteering?

Last weekend I did two score orienteering events - a Bike-O Lanequest on Saturday and the NE Score Championships on Sunday.

Now I really enjoy score events, and I do think it's a great pity that there aren't more held nowadays - a few years back EBOR used to run a regular series on a Saturday morning which I always tried to get to, and of course, NN run their annual Boxing Day Score event at Chopwell Woods, which I've been attending for donkeys years!

I once took part in the Scottish Score Championships, and the Scots really treated it as a fairly important event - on a par with a Badge (sorry Regional) event. I subsequently tried to get the NE to hold a similar annual event, and it has limped along since, with the odd break. The main issue clubs have with running the NE Score Champs is that the attendances are usually well down on a colour coded (sorry District) event, and the event at Goathland last Sunday was no exception - only 60 in total, when we could have expected 120+ to a 'normal' event.

I don't know why people should shy away so from the score format - some perhaps regard 60 mins to be too long to be out (though you can always come back early), though I suspect the problem is a mix of the unfamiliar, and the fact that you have to totally decide yourself where to go, rather than the course being handed to you on a plate! Thinking about how far you can go in the time limit, linking up controls with decent point values and 'escape routes' if things don't go to plan is too much like hard work (or so I've been told!). Orienteers can be so conservative sometimes!

The contrast with Bike Orienteering couldn't be more dramatic - the Score format is the standard type of event, be it a 5 hour Trailquest or a 2 hour Lanequest treasure hunt. With Bike-O, it's the cross-country style courses which are shunned!

Anyway, back to last weekend. The thing I like about the Saturday morning events that Steve Willis stages is the opportunity to explore a small chunk of countryside in some detail - smashing villages, grand halls tucked away from general view, and some rather nice houses! When choosing where to go (it's just not possible to get to all sites in the time limit) I do often select a route which appears to visit interesting places, rather than just battling around collecting points. The area around Arkendale near Ripon was bisected by the A1(M), and my first impression after picking up my map was that the area to the East looked the best - and I did really enjoy my ride around - and only 1 minute late too!

One amusing incident - between Great and Little Ouseburn, there was an isolated church near to Kirby Hall. As I rode past, I noticed a grand mausoleum in the grave yard, and what looked like a little information board by the church gate. As I rode over the church carpark to have a look, a pair who had been following me up the road approached, and one of them followed me! That is, until his mate shouted at him that it wasn't one of the checkpoints!!

And so to Sunday, and a foot score event. I had had a little bit of a say on this event, and so I had a pre-concieved idea of where I was going to go before I even started - into Newtondale via the Lyke Wake walk path! The only question was, how many controls was I going to pick up on the way and on the way back. As it turned out, I perhaps did too many on the way out, and seriously didn't see the 30 pointer right near the start! But when I got into Newtondale, it was as good as I remember it! I didn't really mind being 9 1/2 minutes late back, though the penalties were a little harsh!


Martin Dean said...

Hi Chris,

What a contrast between the north and south of the Goathland map! The southern part looks fantastic!


cjw said...

Goathland South also has quite a good section at Hunt House Crags in the NW of the area. Unfortunately between there and Newtondale (map extract), in the SE of the area, there is a large expanse of fairly featureless heather moor. Parking is normally near Hunt House Crags.

Newtondale is only accessable at the N and S ends due to the line of cliffs - once you're in you have to go all the way. It takes 20/25 mins running to get to the N end and 15/20 mins to get to the S end of Newtondale from parking, and 15/20 mins to traverse, so not many people have ever had the chance to get into Newtondale, despite it being bounded on the E by the North York Moors steam railway!