This weekend Wessex and Wimborne Orienteering clubs hosted the annual South West Orienteering Championships, the start of my competition season proper. There’s a clue in the name- Caddihoe Chase runners on day one are placed in order of their finishing times and on day two are given a chasing start in minute intervals, fastest first. Being as we used my local area of Agglestone and Rempstone Heath here’s a post about the event, last hosted by WSX in 2010 at Wareham Forest. You might use the Sandbanks ferry? If you’re a keen Mountain Biker or walker then Rempstone forest is likely a familiar place to you and the first track exit off the Ferry road takes you into it, you’ve almost certainly passed and admired the views into the areas. Agglestone heath is a unique area on the edge of Studland also beloved of many locals and visitors who come to see the areas flora and fauna. Saturdays event assembled at Knoll beach, crossing the road directly into Agglestone heath for starts. If you like the dunes at Studland there’s a chance to Orienteer there whenever you want with our National Trust map. We prepare for events like these months in advance with map updates, course planning and a lot of meetings about permissions with the Trust and various landowners. Happily enough we were given the area of the Education centre at Knoll beach to use as the event base with a decent coffee machine and food too, thanks N.T. Some of the visiting clubs for the weekend were:- Bristol, Quantocks, Devon, Cornwall so many had travelled from afar and pre-entered, 479 pre-entries in all. My role was on the start team this year, to set up tents, start boxes on the ground and read out special instructions to runners going off every minute. A bright and blowy morning on the heath, this is a great terrain of small valleys and spurs with small tracks, fantastic for Orienteering challenges. Longer courses for the younger competitors started 2.3 KM away in Rempstone, then worked their way back to the finish near to Knoll beach. Good reports from runners who came for the different terrain, with stunning views over Bournemouth bay a bonus.
Map updates- I planned and organised a Mountain Bike Orienteering event for Rempstone starting at Burnbake in 2010, and got to looking at the difference between the maps then and now. You can see here that just 5 years means an almost different place entirely. The patches of white show the mature tree areas, ‘forest-run’ in Orienteering parlance, lots of clear felling shows how Rempstone has become a lot more open. If you’re familiar with the area and have either walked or ridden down the track from the Golf Course- the F.T i’ve marked is ‘Franks Tank’ locality, it’s on the bottom right (S.E) of the map. Very different now, with many areas that were ‘forest-fight’ (dense undergrowth) cleared and turned into the predominant colour of light yellow- rough open land. Purple hatched areas show ‘Out of bounds’ for the deepest marshes and on Sunday for Burnbake Lodges area. The newly opened areas contained some of the most technical sections of the competition, either the best or the worst depending on how you performed!
A Camping field was provided overnight at Burnbake for visiting competitors, I hadn’t been there since the Lodges have been opened, and have to say they are superb looking places to stay in amongst the trees. Day two started beautifully in the sunshine, with first starts in the forest at 10.00 A.M. Longer courses on the day like mine shown the Short Brown went out onto Agglestone again, then back in which was a superb contrast, my run was 30 minutes down on the fastest however contained one of the fastest splits of the day from control 20-21. My clubmate James M21 only beat me by 5 minutes overall so goes to show my Nav isn’t too rusty at the start of the season. As with every Orienteering competition you move between areas of great difficulty and those smooth sections when Flowing well. After the event was the customary prize giving and happy to say our Wessex W21 Frida won, as did W10 Lyra, the club also picked up the Summer relays trophy, which we held after winning the most from a series of 7 team races around the S/W this summer. All in all a great weekend, was nice to see some children from Durweston school make it over and thanks to all those who travelled from afar for coming. Season is well and truly ON.