Bourne Valley Orienteering Challenge 2015


Day after London Marathon again, and a reminder of its 1981 start and Chris Brasher who instituted the race, Brasher brought the  sport of Orienteering from Scandinavia to U.K as well in the 1960’s. Last week was a real spring work marathon for me too and this post celebrates one part of what I achieved last week.

During January February and March I led bike rides, for local business’ co-ordinated by Bournemouth Borough Council as part of the Workplace  Challenge, an initiative aimed at getting people more active through offering a variety of sessions during work time.

Business’ taking part in the this for their staff were Organix, Bournemouth University , Mouchel, and Council taking part in Nordic walking, cycling and running activities, also promoting active travel to work for those living within the area, all good ideas.

My colleagues from Active Dorset wanted to bring the project together with a finale. My work in February included a pitch to BBC, Mouchel and Organix to organise an Orienteering team competition for this – the Bourne Valley Challenge.

My club Wessex has 6 local Permanent Orienteering Courses installed in parkland, with Queens Park and Boscombe Chine coming on soon, as part of the Coastal Activity Park. Businesses mentioned here are however both located right in town so I designed a course that would be accessible to all next to where they work-they liked the sound of my session too.

Everyone walks the lower gardens from the Square to Pier, however not all go to Middle and Upper Gardens.  This is an area that was planted in 1874 with exotic trees, and as tree fan been a haunt of mine for a while, along with the cycle route that I can envisage as the premier commuter route in the conurbation. If uplighting, smooth surfaces, segregated cycle priority one side and walking priority the centre and other side were introduced it could become an active travel feeder route alternative for thousands of people who queue along Branksome wood road from Poole into Bournemouth and back daily. Ive been asking for it for years from within the Council building, at Cycling forums and other meetings. Anyway sorry for the digression- back to the Bourne Valley Challenge.

I dreamt up an Orienteering challenge, within an area that could be used in a lunchhour. Of the hundreds of trees, and the 16 that are on the Tree Trail map I explored and earmarked 14 to find for the challenge. Showing people what’s on their doorstep is a joy anyway, perhaps even more enjoyable for people who may have never been far from workplace.



So each team was to find the 14 circled locations, solve the name anagram after finding all specified letters. Evidence that team members were at the actual exact place worked as follows:- Using the Latin names that I supplied them with, allowed them to write down the English names also on the plaque like on this picture- then they were asked for certain letters- and then to make up a 5 letter word, and a 9 letter word for the letter anagram- ‘River Challenge’

On the day last tuesday 21st April- arrival at 1215 for 1230 start, by bike from work around the corner at the cycling centre.

I Briefed 41 people on the task, thanks to Lee Monk and Tim Huxley, 7 teams all together and many last minute additions. I gave them idea of setting map to ground, direction and finding exact places, key Orienteering skills.  Maps handed out, with checksheets and pens. They were to have an hour to complete the competition.

As well as thanking colleagues I introduced Dawn Redwood, another colleague, whos real name is Metasequoia Glyptostroboides. Taking them to the middle one of 3 of these lovely twisted trunk sequoias outside the Town Hall, illustrated the way circles on the map represented the exact locations as in Orienteering. Nominating team sizes was part of their activity- either working in pairs, bunches, or designating exact numbers of trees for individuals to find.



Results:- 40 minutes return for the fastest team, with correct places and letters, if you were in the team you’ll know how it happened. Excellent team work with some running involved. A week before I’d run the course solo visiting all controls in 27 minutes so knew it could be done. Its a Total privilege being able to introduce people to this place, and the sylvan beauty within. Hundred year old Redwoods provide us with a fabulous addition to the area, and lots of other Beeches, Ironwoods and interesting trees, do check it out.

I’m always keen to do these team challenges again, so get in touch if you like the sound. Recently met again with the Boscombe Coastal Activity Park staff about our new course there, you can find existing courses at look for ‘Permanent courses’ tab.  Aiming at more summer season schools introductions to Orienteering , making adventure and orientation happen for all. Happy Mondays enjoy the weather.


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