Sun, sand and sea – this event had it all. Ulverston O club organised the event (on behalf of the local club – LOC) as a fundraiser. Parents and pupils ran everything – planning the courses, running registration and start, putting out controls and manning the BBQ and cake stall. It was a lot of work, but nearly 200 people took part and it was a great success.
There could not have been a greater contrast between the last two weekends. After the sunshine and warmth at Formby the Ulverston orienteering club travelled to Keswick on Sunday to be met by low cloud and steady rain. Aiken skyline is situated on the hills north west of Whinlatter Forest and includes a small area of forest and a large area of open fell.
The last event before Easter took place on Gowbarrow. This open fell is on the north side of Ullswater, close to Aira Force. After leaving Ulverston in thick mist it was a surprise to travel over Kirkstone Pass and into the sunshine. Luckily this held for the day giving all the runners some stunning views over the lake. It almost made the hard climb worth it!
Unfortunately, the forest was not so nice. It had not been used for a few years and had not improved in that time. The terrain was very rough underfoot with brashings and boulders making it very difficult to make quick progress. Finishing times were very long and anyone who finished felt they had had value for money! To make matters worse runners on the longer courses found the print rubbing off the map which made the map reading quite difficult.
The beginning of half term found the Ulverston orienteering club taking a short journey to Ulpha Park at the bottom of the Corney Fell road. This area provides a complete range of terrain. All the courses went through the lower slopes of deciduous woods. The yellow & orange courses finished past the fields next to the Duddon River, while those on light green went into a new wood previously unusable because of dormice (ferocious creatures!). This area of beech trees is very welcome as it enables the longer courses to gain access to the open land around Frith Hall by climbing gradually. From there they entered the dark, coniferous plantation, and the rough open land of Penn before finishing with the steep drop back to the finish.
This was the last event of the year and the orienteering club travelled to Gelt Woods, Brampton near Carlisle. At last we were running in woods and this provided different problems to some of the recent events.
The Gelt River runs through a steep sided gorge. This wooded area has a good network of paths which can sometimes be more confusing then helpful. The slopes have plenty of rock features and there were numerous pits and re-entrants. There were still pockets of snow still lying in places and these hid some of the features which the early runners found hard to find. There was a very cold wind in the car park field, but the trees sheltered the runners and the only problems the weather produced were the ice and snow underfoot.
Once again the orienteering club chose the wrong day to go out – this time we woke up to snow on the fells. Fortunately, little had settled on the roads so we managed to get to the event safely and were able to enjoy the scenery as we travelled through the Lakes. Whilest the first snow of the year made the hills look very dramatic it was slightly worrying that we were soon going to be out running in the stuff! However, as we went over Dunmail Rise the snow disappeared from the lower slopes and by the time we reached the event the ground was just very wet. Unfortunately, there was a strong cold wind blowing so everyone still had to go out in cags, hats & gloves.
Every orienteering article talks about the weather and, although it should not affect our results, it can make such a difference to an event. This Sunday the club took 45 pupils to Birkett Common near Kirkby Stephen – an open fell area with no trees or shelter. Instead of the sunshine from last week runners were faced with strong winds, heavy rain (with some hail mixed in) and a marked drop in temperature. Conditions were such that everyone went out in cags, hat and gloves. The wet conditions underfoot made the feet very cold and several runners retired.
The end of half term found the orienteering club taking a short journey to Torver in bright sunshine. Once again the terrain was open fell with views across to Coniston Old Man and Dow crag. There were extensive rock features with some steep slopes and intricate contour detail. The numerous marshes and streams proved helpful as well.
The weather this Sunday was quite miserable with a steady rain falling throughout the event. However, this did not deter the O club with 32 pupils taking part on various courses. The terrain was typical for the Lake District – open fell, thick tussocks, small features and no trees to hide behind. As usual the year 8 pupils completed 2 courses (orange followed by yellow). This helps with their stamina training and is good practice for British Schools Champs. Their results were outstanding with almost a clean sweep on both courses. William and Angus coming 1st & 2nd respectively on the orange and yellow course.