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Essex Stragglers Orienteering Society (SOS)

March 2004

Editors: Jenny and John Collyer, email


Editorial - Jenny and John Collyer

A number of contributors (ourselves included) still have vivid memories of the Championships at Simonside, Northumbria, and we will not stray any further into that well-covered area.

However, it has reminded us of many events where memorable things have happened, other than the much-maligned "good run". As orienteers we travel to the parts that others do not normally reach, and our experiences give us a broad and detailed view of the countryside, both home and abroad.

One of the surprising aspects for us was the realization of how the countryside has changed over the years; forests we assumed to be long standing showing clear signs of habitation in times past – the Scottish Glens and the Highland Clearances being an obvious example.

How good then, for Stragglers to have put something back with their efforts at the Fordham tree planting.

Chairman's Chat - Lyn West

2004 seems to have got off to a good start. Your esteemed Chairman is feeling very pleased with herself. I started the year with a Championship standard run at the first National Event, something I have never before achieved and then followed it up by winning the W50 class at the Midland Night Championships at High Ash. OK so Night O does not appeal to many people and I was the only entrant. But I still had to find all the controls, no mean feat in the dark I can tell you. It is bad enough keeping track of blocks of Thetford Forest in daylight but it is far more difficult at night!

SOS seems to be having a successful year too with a comprehensive victory in the Regional Round. Not only did we have quality runners, we also had quantity. It was good to see so many Stragglers turning out for the club. No doubt Martin has more to say on the subject but if you were planning something for May 9th, forget it. You are needed at the Final.

The badge event at Roman Valley went very well. We received some very complimentary comments from the Controller. My thanks to all of you who helped. In fact I feel very positive about the club at the moment. We seem to have some new members who are getting actively involved. It is good to have some new blood to liven us old timers up. Please don’t be afraid to let any of the committee have your comments. We need your input.

By the time you read this, the British Championships will have taken place. I don’t think we have any hot favourites for the titles but a good contingent are making the trip to the North East. Then the JK at Easter promises to be a highly social event with the Youth Hostel full and plenty of other Stragglers in the area. The orienteering terrain will be challenging and I am looking forward to it. One thing is certain, Relay Day will be very vocal! And we have some competitive teams too.

Yes, 2004 is shaping up well.

Captain's Log - Martin Sellens

I am thinking of commissioning a special T-shirt emblazoned with the announcement "I survived Simonside (just)". The conditions at the British Orienteering Championships (except that it really isn't) in Northumberland last Saturday (20th March) were appalling. Gale force winds, hail showers and exposed moorland terrain meant that it was a game of two halves. Heading east was like wearing 20 league boots with the wind at your back and speeds of 3 min/km (mainly airborne) being achievable for the sure of foot and strong of ankle. On the other hand, after the turn it was battling into the teeth of the hurricane. Head down and cagoule flapping like a banshee (or do they only scream?), grit your teeth and look for routes in the lee of ridges or sheltered gullies. Thank goodness it was at least fairly mild. I'm still wondering if there were punters inside the portaloos when they were blown over, and whether Fat Pigs ever hauled their lardy ass out of the mud. Social life after the event was limited to pushing cars and mud wrestling. Orienteering. An adventure sport. Sounds accurate to me. And then there was the journey home through the motorway debris of scuppered high-sided vehicles, drifts of hail, electrical storms and the usual obstacle course of roadworks.

Meanwhile, back at the Compass sport Trophy competition, in the civilised, flat, rectilinear East Anglian forests that we know and love, Stragglers moved inexorably into the final once again. Competing against old rivals SUFFOC, CHIG, SMOC and HAVOC at Warren Woods on 14th March, we scored maximum points on two of the courses and had first scorer on all but one. Something has gone awry with the event web page at so I can't find the final scores, but suffice it to say that we won by a large margin. It was great to see so many Stragglers at the event and well done to all of us. It was a glorious victory and Stragglers who are there will regale their grandchildren, yea even to the Nth generation, with tales of Orienteering derring do on sand tracks and midst the lofty pines. But lets not get carried away. It was only the regional heats. The final will be at Pillar Wood near Caister (North Lincs) on May 9th. The competition will be fierce and last year's winners SARUM will be difficult to beat. However, Stragglers can give them a run for their money and I will be recruiting in April to get the strongest possible team to head North and intimidate the Southern upstarts into submission. Remember, this is the "thinking sport", and I think we can win. Incidentally, if you want to find out how this competition works and to understand the byzantine new scoring system, don't ask me, log on to the aforementioned web site.

I have now entered several teams with silly names into the JK relays. You know who you are so I won't dwell on this. Anyway, I want to watch the news and take on board a glass of anti-oxidants. Similarly, I will only briefly mention the British Relay Championships, now to be held on May 3rd or thereabouts at the triple O Severn (clever pun, that) three day event in the Forest of Dean. Or should that be Tracy? Anyway, whoever. If you are going and want a run, and haven't told me already, please email to reserve your place. And finally, good luck at the East Anglian Championships this Sunday (28th March), or last Sunday depending on your position in the space time continuum.

This is your captain speaking. Over and out.

Event Reports

National Event 1 Blackheath, Surrey - Jenny Collyer

I am normally pleased to do 10 min k’s so was amazed at 8.8 min k’s at this event. This reflects the nature of the terrain – the sort we dream about – mostly open woodland, some heath with low heather, no bramble, brashings, little undergrowth and fairly gentle contouring – at least on my course. This gave no excuses to slow down and the direct, straight line route was always the best. The only break in momentum was hitting a control which was not mine and having to quickly work out where I was. Championship standards were achieved by: - Andrew Malley, Joanne West, Hazel Tant, Suzie Robertson, Hilary Sellens and Jenny Collyer

BOC 2004 Simonside, Northumberland - Julia Robertson

In almost 30 years of orienteering this was one of the wettest and windiest events that I can remember. Things did not look too good when the car parking arrangements were changed in the week before the event, but even on top of the hill the fields soon became quagmires, and most vehicles had to be pushed or towed out. The gale-force winds also took their toll, with the download marquee and the portaloos both unable to withstand them. A row of capsized portaloos is a surreal sight – I trust they were not occupied at the time. The caterers, Fat Pigs, also gave up and were towed away early but Wilfs battled on to the everlasting gratitude of many soaked and frozen runners.

We had been promised magnificent views from Simonside, and I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them when the sun emerged from behind the clouds. On a warm, sunny day – or even one without wind – this would have been a very enjoyable area. As it was, the rain was unremitting from early morning until after 12, and the winds on the exposed moorland were so strong that the rain was horizontal and felt, at times, like driving hail. This was bad enough when the wind was behind one, but unbearable when facing into it – at one point I was proceeding in a crab-like fashion, physically unable to face the way I should be going. My over-riding aim was not to drop my map, as retrieval would have been impossible.

A select band of Stragglers had made the long journey North, and yet again the younger members provided the best results, with the only top 10 finishes coming from Jo West in W16A and Hazel Tant in W18A. The rest of us were just glad to survive!

SOS Notice Board


Swedish based members Ann and Eric Roller are now the proud parents of daughter Miia Beth born on March 18th. They will be in the UK for the Triple O Severn weekend at the beginning of May.

Schools Day

This year’s Schools Day has provisionally been booked for July 12th and all help would be much appreciated.

Orienteering – a Bacchanalian frolic - Jack Isbester

Picture the scene. The champagne corks are popping and beautiful young people are pressing close around you. Children, their eyes wide with wonder are pleading for your autograph. Old men eye you enviously and brag unconvincingly about how they did it better in their day.

What have you done that's so spectacular? You have just successfully organised the SOS Relays for 2004! The equipment was all in the right place. The premarked maps were ready for all the teams, even those who have only entered on the day. The procedures are clearly explained in your documents – even the most brain dead orienteers like Clive Derek Geoff Martin Andrew can understand what they have to do. The weather has been lovely – sunny but not too hot – and the helpers have been lovely, too - smart, eager, resourceful and cheerful.

The winning relay team is popular and its members are gracious in victory, and even the slowest team have had a lovely time and seen cowslips and wild strawberries during their "run".

Why am I telling you this? Because that Organiser could be you. Incredible as it seems a vacancy for Organiser of the SOS Relays on Sunday 11th July at Hockley still exists. You need some spare time in late June and early July and a bit of organisational ability. If you are inexperienced someone who has organised our relays previously will be ready to talk you through the requirements. The event is normally a small one, attended by no more than 10-15 teams of four. If you are better at planning than at organising don't despair – we need a Planner too!

The serious point of this article is that we really do need an Organiser and a Planner for our relays. Most of our regular officials have heavy commitments this year, although they will be able to help on the day. It is time for a couple of willing if less experienced members to step forward.

Also up for grabs are the Organisers and Planners jobs for normal ESSOL (Schools' League) events in 2005. If the venue is convenient and you are willing to try your hand please inform Jack Isbester, Home Tel: 01621 815501, Mobile: 07968 373590, before all the best jobs get taken.



13th February 2005


17th April 2005

The Broaks

8th May 2005

The Naze

9th October 2005


27th November 2005

High Woods

Fordham Wood - Jack Isbester

A milestone was reached in the partnership between Essex Stragglers and the Woodland Trust when fifteen members of SOS gathered in Fordham on a chilly Saturday in early February to plant saplings in Stragglers' Copse, otherwise called Stragglers' Acre, part of Fordham Woods the new forest being created on our doorstep by the Woodland Trust.

Our activity was part of a larger exercise in which the Woodland Trust had 6,000 saplings to plant. Several hundred volunteers participated in the planting and we reckoned that SOS planted about 500 of the 3,000 trees that were planted that day.

The saplings included oak, ash, alder, birch, hazel, willow and lime, all native to this region and they were issued to us five at a time, because the Woodland Trust find that trees flourish best when amongst small groups of friends. We were given a brief demonstration of how to plant and the ground had been marked with paint spots to show us where to plant, then it was up to us. Dig a hole, pop a tree into it, fill the hole..... and so on.

We started planting at 1130. The sun shone, a cold wind whistled across the field. We stopped at random to refresh ourselves with tea and cakes from the WI tent or with packed lunch. The skies darkened and there were a few spots of rain but then the sun came out again to give us a hint of how lovely it will look in years to come when the view blends broadleaved woodlands with gently rolling wildflower meadows. It was nearly 1530 by the time the last of us left the site – let's hope that the next time some SOS members spend that long in Fordham Wood they will be planning an orienteering event!

Essex Stragglers are linked to Stragglers' Copse by the funds raised by Stragglers in memory of former clubmates. Don't get too excited - at present the trees are only 30 cm tall but in the future the Copse can become that free-running leg between Controls 3 and 4. The location of the Copse is shown on the accompanying map.

SOS Gear Shop

New supplies of club kit are on order and due into stock soon. So get a new look for the Spring with some smart SOS O kit. Contact Lyn West at or telephone 01206 322905 to place your order.

Traditional ‘O’ tops [long sleeves with pocket]TBA
Elite ‘O’ tops [mesh yolk] Short or long sleevesTBA
‘O’ trousers TBA
T shirts [children]£6.00
T shirts [small & medium]£4.50
T shirts [large & extra large]£7.50
Sweatshirts [children]£7.50
Sweatshirt [adult]£12.50
Woolly hats£ 3.60

I am also prepared to offer second-hand ‘O’ gear for sale. Pass any suitable clean item to me with size, suggested asking price and your name and telephone number keeping 20% for club funds if I am successful. I will have a stall at the next SOS event at Hylands on April 25th.

East Anglian OA AGM

This will be held on the 27th June following the Score Event in warren Wood, Thetford.

Midlands Championships 2004

As members of EAOA we are eligible to compete in this event which will be held at Breakneck Bank in the Wyre Forest (West Midlands) on the 18th April. Limited late entry until 13th April subject to map availability.

High Woods Management Plan - Jack Isbester

The High Woods Draft Management Plan, produced by Colchester Borough Council, was recently circulated to interested parties, including Essex Stragglers, for comment. The sixty page document states the proposals for the management of the park for the next ten years and makes fascinating reading, revealing unsuspected detail about the flora and fauna which abound in the area and the thought and care which go into managing, preserving and enhancing the environment.

Constructive comments on the plan have now been provided by some fifteen organisations ranging from English Nature and the Essex Wildlife Trust to Colchester Cycling Campaign and the Ramblers Association. Essex Stragglers made our own modest contribution, congratulating the author on an impressive document which provides a fascinating insight into the range of procedures, skills and activities that go into making High Woods the attractive place to visit that it is and confirming that we value highly the access that we have to the site for orienteering.

For management purposes High Woods is divided into some 25 distinct compartments. Readers can obtain some idea of the detail of the plan from the proposals, given hereunder, for Chanterelle Plantation, just one of those 25 compartments. Anyone wishing to read the full 60-page document can obtain an electronic copy on application to

Chanterelle Plantation: A good tree canopy is required to maintain the screening of the residential development and this factor should continue to influence management. The development of a shrubby understorey from regrowth out of a process of progressive thinning by felling, as has occurred south of the footpath, will be beneficial.

This together with the nurturing of seedlings will create a varied age structure increasing longevity, biodiversity, and 'naturalness' and with an emphasis on the development of high forest. The process of tree thinning should include the cutting of rides to aid access for management and for visitors. There will also be ecological benefits in extending the length of woodland edge. Most of the Lombardy poplar and ornamental willows should be removed. Increasing the size of the grassy bays by further tree removal will benefit insects as well as improving site lines for visitors. Annual cutting should be rotated to allow for over- wintering insects. Ideally cut material should be removed. Ragwort should be cleared. Some individual oaks left alongside the path should be considered for pollarding. Dead wood should be left on site to further develop the deadwood flora and fauna.

Hawthorn hedges on the south and east boundaries contiguous with the tree planting should be managed by coppicing or laying on rotation. This will also control public access into sensitive areas. Crown lifting and thinning of trees adjoining the hedges will be required to allow in light for re-growth. Post and rail fencing on the south and west boundaries will require removal once hedge re-growth is well established.

The northern hedge is largely maintained by adjoining residents and there seems little point in altering this arrangement. The exposed section of the old north south hedge and ditch will require coppice management and post and rail erected where the path crosses the ditch for public safety. The southern section of the 19th C. hedge south of the car park is dealt with under Compt. H.

Continued maintenance of the footpath, access road and car park surfaces is required for ease of access and the stile on the south side of the car park should be replaced with a pedestrian gate. The height barrier needs repair. Drainage ditches on the access drive need to be improved.

The trees on the south side of the car park require thinning and the bramble and shrubs all round cut back to the post and rail fence which should be repaired where rails are missing. Trees on the north side should be largely removed as far as the earth bund to provide a more open aspect and space for picnic benches. Crowns should be lifted on those remaining. Benches generally need renewing.

Mountain Navigation Challenge May 15/16th 2004 - Russell Ladkin

I became involved in this small event last year. As part of the winning team, it has fallen to me to organise the event this year. The event is a 2-day mountain marathon score competition for teams of two carrying their camping equipment with 7 hours available on the saturday and 5 hours on the sunday. It starts at 10am and aims to finish by 2pm on the sunday to allow for driving home. There is a maximum entry of just 15 teams which keeps it fun but also with the element of competition at all levels. Cost is £8 per team. We will be using the Lake District Northern Fells and camping barn places are available at the start/finish. For further details/entry contact Russ Ladkin on 01223 501214 or e-mail

SOS National Ranking Positions

This list is complete for events up to the 22nd February. The competitor’s position reflects the best 6 scores over the previous 12 months. We have only included members scoring in 3 or more events. In some cases a score from a previous age class is given where there are too few scores in the new class.

M20L    4th    Chris Sellens                  W18L   5th    Hazel Tant
M20S    1st    Stephan Pugh                          10th   Katie Sellens
M21L    128th  Jeff Powell Davies(5)          W20L   4th    Suzy Robertson
        231st  Peter Finch (4)                       10th   Nicola Robertson
M40L    160th  Kevin Machin (3)               W21L   27th   Ann Roller
M45L    95th   Clive Tant                            170th  Chloe Russell (3)
        133rd  Mark Lyne                      W21S   53rd   Miriam Pugh            
        144th  Colin West                     W40S   59th   Wendy Welham (4)
        139th  Geoff Pye                             70th   Alison Malley  (3)                        
        169th  Andrew Malley (4)              W45L   31st   Hilary Sellens
M50L    17th   Martin Sellens                 W50L   90th   Lyn West (4)                     
        75th   Steve Robertson                W50S   31st   Julia Robertson
        86th   Nicholas Pugh                  W55L   75th   Geraldine Russell (W60)
M55S    88th   John Collyer (3)                      82nd   Jenny Collyer (4)
M70L    47th   Jack Isbester (3)             

BOF Item

Visit the orienteering stand at the Ordnance Survey Outdoor Show 2004 2-4 April NEC, Birmingham. 3 challenges will be offered:-

Outdoor O Challenge around the surrounding grounds of the halls with about 5 control points

Indoor O Challenge is a small course of about 10 control points around the halls of the show

Computer Challenge Try out the new cd-rom for newcomers to orienteering.

Special BOF Member ticket prices

Schools' League Co-ordinator - Dave Birkett

Schools League update

Five events down and three to go and thoughts turn to trophy and certificate winners. This season’s presentations will take place at Highwood’s Country Park on Sunday 6th June 2004 sometime between 1100am and 1.00pm, whenever contenders are finished. This is the last ESSOL event of the season. Make a note in your diary.

The certificate competition is still on going. There is still time to send any entries. Closing date is 31st March 2004.

When doing the league tables I am bound to make or duplicate errors with regard to names, year groups, schools and even scores. Every effort is made to avoid these but should any be found then please e-mail the error with an explanation to

Something to change for next season? I don’t like the rule about scoring using the best five events. Why not the cumulative score from all the events entered for the season. Any strong views out there?

Current year group top fives, up to and including Knettishall:
Year 5&6 Boys White
Liam Cocks376
Robert Barker300
Monty Beaton287
Bradley Kershaw286
Jonathan Dale268

Year 5&6 Girls White

Sarah Bibby375
Rebecca Wastell348
Sarah Roach282
Stephanie Ware251
Martha Crowhurst197

Year 7&8 Boys Yellow

Joshua Harris392
Alex Bibby390
Alex Ware379
Connor Weed273
Michael Park262

Year 7&8 Girls Yellow

Leondra Selby272
Alycia Gundersen185
Grace Sanderson99
Emily Axford97
Alishia Cocks93

Year 9&10 Boys Orange

James Park293
James Lyne276
Philip Hardingham177
Steven McGregor98
S Taylor86
Year 9&10 Girls Orange
Sarah Park381
Nicola Barker196
Rachel Malley191
Megan Malley99
Ellen Sanderson93

Year 11,12 & 13 Boys Light Green

Jonathan Pye176
Alex Machin155
Robert Powell Davies85
Tom Sherwen75

Year 11,12 &13 Girls Light Green

Emma Johnson194
Hazel Tant182
Katie Sellens179
Jo West100
Nina Tant97
Kiri Alford94

Fixtures in East Anglia and Nearby Regions

For up-to-date fixtures information, see the following websites -
Link to SOS Essex stragglers fixtures
Link to EAOA East Anglian Orienteering Association fixtures
Link to BOF British Orienteering Federation fixtures

The information provided normally consists of Event Date, Region (eg EA = East Anglia), Event Grade and Type (Grade 1 is highest grade, Grade 5 is lowest. Type C is a conventional Cross Country event in which controls must be visited in the sequence listed on the description sheet). Event & Location Names and map reference. Organiser's contact details. Contact details, costs, closing date etc. for Pre-entry when provided. Whether Entry on the Day (EOD) is possible and the surcharge payable. The range of courses offered. The address of a website from which additional information can be obtained.

At Essex Stragglers' events registration normally opens at 1000hrs, starts are from 1030hrs until 1230hrs and courses close at 1430hrs.