It was a pleasure to organise this successful BOK Local League 5 and ASO event on Saturday. The location high on the Mendips in the constant shadow of the giant Transmitter Mast is great for a local event. The area is a mixture of open pasture, mature and immature deciduous and pine forest. There was plenty to challenge orienteers and it was a welcome introduction for the youngsters who are ready to move away from parkland to less manicured areas. The map newly updated by Trevor Crowe was excellent, though he had to work fast as we did not have access to the land till the beginning of February.
It was also a pleasure to work with the local farmers, livestock holders and house owners, all of whom were pleased to see an orienteering event on the ground here. Even the manager of the Mast site said ‘Go for it’.
There is no doubt that a local event does require a considerable amount of time and effort from all the really nice BOK volunteers who helped to make this a very successful and fun day. The wet parking area and very strong wind needed extra resilience to deal with. Fortunately the alternative parking plans and strong bodies and minds coped with those problems. Thank you very much.
It was so encouraging to see quite a few competitors who were new or nearly new to the sport. Mark the planner, was careful to keep the courses within the guidelines and his Short Green course was good for those who did not care for loads of climb in a more technical course.
There was a smooth handover of the site and controls to Matt for the Western Night League event later that evening. It was good the wind had subsided by then; though this was just the calm before the real gale we encountered during the final clear up on Sunday!
I would like to thank Mr Simon Tudway-Quilter the landowner for his kind permission to use Pen Hill, and the farmer Kevin Clinton and gamekeepers for their assistance. The car parking money will be donated to the Friends of the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre as requested by Kevin Clinton.
Can we come here again please?
Lost property: child’s right hand mitten navy blue (jojo in the snow logo)
Pen Hill may not offer the technical difficulty demanded at the highest levels of the sport, but it compensates with some beautiful woodland and large open grazing areas giving fabulous views. As one finisher said to me on Saturday, “it was utterly delightful, with no worries about navigation!” It is also an excellent area for junior courses, being safe and bounded, with lots of line features, unlike some more complex forest areas.
The need to control the climb lies behind all thoughts about planning here, however, and it would be easy to rachet up the climb to completely unacceptable levels. For this reason, it was decided to offer a Short Green course with minimal climb, for those who would find excessively arduous the climb that was unavoidable on Green and Light Green courses. The other challenge is how to get competitors across the many barbed wire fences that cross the area. Although the fences are relatively low, it would only be the longest-legged competitors who could cross them without the likelihood of suffering damage. Therefore fences had to be crossed at gates or specially-engineering crossing points. If only one could trust orienteers to use only designated crossing points, there would be the option of some great long legs with route choice from one side of the area to the other. Unfortunately, experience is that if you want people to go through a crossing point, you have to put a control on it and that is what I did. As a consequence, legs tended to be rather shorter than I would have wished.
Trevor Crowe revised the map extensively for the event, and in particular provided much more detail of the gorse areas than was available previously. This was a great help in enabling a little more variation about halfway through the longer courses.
Many thanks to all helpers, mostly the people who help at each and every event, and it would be really great to get in some new (younger!) people. You get much more fun out of an event by helping!