Orienteering is for everyone

The joy of orienteering is getting from A to B by whichever route you choose, and that tolerance pervades the sport. Orienteering is inclusive: competitions routinely include those aged from 8 to 80; and the terrain can vary hugely. It can be forest, fell, or sand dunes. Urban areas from ancient cities to modern precincts all have their A’s and B’s around which to navigate. Orienteering is usually an outdoor activity, but it can be done indoors too. Parks are good because in addition to the parkland they often have paths and facilities.

There is no reason why anyone, including someone with a disability, who wants to get from A to B their way shouldn’t take to orienteering.

Recommended Parks

After consultation and research we appreciate that different groups have a range of different needs with a variety of physical and cognitive challenges. However we have identified eight parks which we recommend for use by disability groups. We considered the following factors:

  • Easily accessible by public transport
  • Good car park
  • Cafe open regularly – somewhere warm for shelter and social interaction
  • Disabled toilets
  • Access for emergency vehicles
  • At least 10 controls which can be reached and read from tarmac paths suitable for standard wheelchairs

The top three Parks are:

Alexandra ParkHeaton Park, and Queens Park Bolton.

These three meet all the criteria.

Other Parks to consider are:

Chadderton Hall Park, Longford Park, Moss Bank Park, Queens Park Heywood, Wythenshawe Park.

All five have have the appropriate facilities but don’t have quite so many posts visible from tarmac paths.


How to enjoy your orienteering

Firstly, we are here to help

If you want some ideas please contact us. We will respond.

In the meantime, here are some ideas…….

Try the ‘score’ format

We think that the best experience comes when the participants control their own orienteering, and can feel a sense of adventure using a map to decide for themselves which way they want to go.

The easiest way to maximise this empowerment is to use the “score” format.  Just start at the Start and finish at the Finish and visit some controls. There are no rules about the number of controls to visit or the order in which they are visited. Participants just go to those they want to go to. If appropriate, they can send their carer to control points they aren’t physically able to reach themselves having got as close as they can and prepared the necessary instructions.

All the eight recommended Parks support this kind of orienteering: the standard map is the only requirement.

“White” courses are another option

Some orienteers prefer to navigate a predetermined set of controls in a “linear” format. i.e. the participants start at the Start, visit pre-determined controls in a given order, and then go on to the Finish. The route that is taken between the controls is entirely at the participant’s discretion. It is very rewarding to plan and execute the routes.

The length and difficulty of linear courses has been codified and Colour coded.  The shortest and easiest is “white” and in many Parks the “white” course is suitable for those in a wheelchair because the controls are visible from a path. These Parks are identified by a tick in the penultimate column – the one with the wheelchair graphic – in the summary sheet .

Remember that although the “white” course may be suitable the Park itself may lack some facilities. These six Parks have suitable “white” course and a full set of facilities.

Alexandra ParkHeaton Park,  Queens Park Bolton  Chadderton Hall ParkQueens Park Heywood, Wythenshawe Park.

All you will need is the standard map.

Use time

Time can create excitement. The Score format can be designed with a time limit. Participants score points for each control visited, but lose points if they finish after the set period of time. Typically the set time is 45 minutes, controls are valued 20 points each, and being late costs 30 points per minute. However, you may want something different and that is perfectly OK too. A major consideration is that it works best when there are more controls on the map that can be visited within the time constraint. Plans often change as time presses.

Record your activity using an App

The GMOA are able to create maps and controls for a smartphone  App. The App uses GPS to record the route participants take and the controls they visit. The results can be viewed either on the smartphone or, if required, over the internet. It can be set to record “score” or “linear” events.

If this appeals to you please contact us. We will do our best to create something especially for you.