Orienteering developed in the 1930s in Sweden. It is a mixture of cross-country running and map reading in order to complete a fixed course in the quickest possible time. It spread slowly through Europe in the middle of the 1960s, and it was not until after the 1976 World Championships in Scotland that more and more people really began to enjoy it. Different levels of activity
Orienteering is the ideal adventure sport for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and abilities-both individuals and family groups. There is a variety of levels, with children as young as seven starting on simple string courses, where coloured tapes show the way. There is a range of courses, usually graduated using colour codes based on length and difficulty. For example, a beginner’s yellow course is fairly straightforward and around two kilometers long. The brown course is usually the most difficult and the longest course at eight kilometers or more. Equipment
Whatever their level, all orienteers cross unknown territory with the help of a specially-designed map which they carry. Everybody also has a compass to guide them. The aim is for participants to combine map reading skills with concentration and quick decision-making to find the best route to the next information point. Finding a club
Local clubs usually have well over one hundred members, with ages ranging from under ten years through to some who are well into their seventies. Details orienteering clubs and future events in the country are available on the Orienteering Association’s website www.orienteeringforall.org or by telephone, 01739 743142.
There is no better time to take up this interesting activity. People of all over the world are taking less and less exercise. In Sweden in 2007, for example, each person walked an average of 247 kilometers per year, which was a sharp decrease from 425 kilometers per person per year in 1997.