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Essex Stragglers Orienteering Society (SOS)

September 2004

Editors: Jenny and John Collyer, email


Editorial - Jenny and John Collyer

It is down to earth for us now after being kept busy over the last few weeks with multi day events - Swedish 5 Days, Welsh 6 Days and the White Rose. (We also had Richard's wedding in this time). After planning so long ahead for these events (and not thinking beyond them) we find ourselves suddenly into September and needing to search the Fixtures List for events to go to.

If prepared to travel there are events most weekends. Don't be put off by the wording as almost all events have courses for everyone. An ESSOL (Essex and Suffolk Schools Orienteering League) event will have colour coded courses for everyone but a junior at school in Essex or Suffolk is eligible to score points at these events. An EAGAL (East Anglian Galoppen) event has a full range of colour coded courses and points are scored by individuals competing on the course specified for their age class. At REGIONAL events competitors run on the course for their age class (long or short) and a gold, silver or bronze standard can be sent for after achieving it 3 times.

Chairman's Chat - Lyn West

The summer seems to have flown by. Perhaps that is because it seems to have come in chunks of 2 or 3 days with unremitting rain in between. I managed to get soaked only once at the Welsh. At least we weren't camping unlike other hardy Stragglers. We even had thunderstorms and torrential rain in Italy. At least it was at night with the day hot and sunny although I'm not sure I'd recommend a tent as a good place for shelter in a thunderstorm! However, I survived and the O was good.

So I hope you all enjoyed your summer breaks and are back ready to enter the fray for the autumn season. Hatfield Forest is our first event. I hope to see you all there. There are plenty of events in East Anglia in the coming months and the Juniors have some serious competition with the Yvette Baker and the British Schools before Christmas.

Mind you it hasn't been all rest over the summer. Schools Day was again very successful and the follow up event was a success too in its own small way. I think we need more of these informal events that can almost be organised by one man and his dog. The club was also invited to run a day of orienteering as part of a Summer School at Manningtree School, and this was enthusiastically received by all involved. My thank to all those Stragglers involved in these activities. I hope that with the help of our new Regional Development Officer, Jez Middleton, we can build on the interest shown.

BOF are continuing in their quest to solve the issue of declining membership and therefore, income. Participation figures remain buoyant but there is concern that not all people enjoying the benefits are fully contributing to the costs. I suspect most people have no idea of the role BOF has and its importance to ordinary club orienteers. The provision of an event structure and fixtures list, insurance for events, training for event officials and a framework of rules are roles that all sports need from a governing body. Various options for an equitable solution have been explored but the current proposal under discussion is that all active orienteers should be club members and all club members should automatically be members of the Federation. It is suggested that BOF membership be reduced from 15 to 10 for a senior. I presume that there would also be a club element added to the membership fee, i.e. membership of SOS would be 17 per senior (10 + 7 current club fee). Obviously this would be a significant increase for club only members but current BOF members would see a reduction in fees from 22 to 17. The issue is to be debated at the next Council meeting. I would welcome your views, especially from the current club only members. Contact me on 01206 322905 or

And finally, and this really is finally as this is my last Chairman's Chat. I am standing down as Chairman at the AGM. I have served five out of the last seven years as Chairman and consider this quite sufficient. It is high time SOS had a new face at the helm. However, I doubt that I will disappear from view altogether!

SOS Juniors




The Yvette Baker is the Junior Inter-club competition with the winner from the regional round going forward to the National Final in December.

There is no limit to the number of juniors in a team and everybody scores points (although there are complicated rules for which scores are counted in the final total!) What you need to understand is that the more runners we have, the better our chances of winning. Everybody capable of running a yellow course or above is required.

So no excuses!

Contact Jo West, 01206 322905 for further details.

Halden 2004 - Jo West

I flew out early in the morning on the 1st August with a group of 12 youngsters and 6 adults to spend two weeks training in Norway. The flight from Stansted to Oslo took 2 hours plus the added hour time difference. We picked up hire cars at the airport and drove 2 hours to the Gimle Club Hut where we would be staying for the next 2 weeks. Everyone was exhausted from having got up so early, but after lunch we had our first training session. The group was split, with about half having orienteered in Scandinavia before and the other not. We started with a couple of simple loops designed to work on the simple technique of attack points. By the end of this first day everyone was incredibly tired so went to bed early.

The following day we trained on an adjacent area, that's one of the things that's amazing about the area around Halden, all the maps of areas join together. The first week was spent getting accustomed to the different terrain. The weather was much warmer than it had been over here, most days into the high 20s. It was important to keep well hydrated. The weather had not, however, dried out the marshes and after the days training we played football in one of these marshes. It was really good fun and probably resembled rugby more than football!

On Thursday we only trained in the morning : in the afternoon we went and found a lake to swim. Everyone had been really keen to go swimming and the lake we went to was really great with two diving boards and a slide. On the middle weekend we made the two hour trip north to take part in a two day competition, it consisted of a short and a classic race. The terrain was slightly different from the terrain around Halden but it was still complex. The Brits did really well, winning our classes on both days.

The second week was spent focusing more on techniques needed for racing, we did sessions on pre-race preparation and racing under pressure. About halfway through the second week we visited the fort in Halden which dated from the time when Sweden and Norway were at war, because Halden is so far south it was a fortified border town. We had three tour champs, a classic, a middle and a sprint. The middle was our first, held on a really nice runnable area, after messing up the first control I had a pretty good run and ended up 3rd out of the 5 girls. The next day we had the sprint, it began and ended in the forest with a few legs in the middle which went through the streets of Halden. I had never run a sprint race before, I adapted quickly to the 1:5000 map and started well but was unable to maintain my focus for the end part of the course.

The classic race was in a more physically demanding area and the area around the finish was incredibly complex. On the final afternoon we did a novelty event where we were tied together in pairs by the arm. We had to visit controls in t he area around the hut, using map memory and after each control performing a task. It was really good fun and involved some amusing boy-girl pairing. Saturday morning was spent cleaning the hut before travelling to the airport and making our return journey. The two weeks had been good fun but really hard work and I was glad to be going home.

Event Reports

Swedish O-Ringen, Gothenburg - John Collyer

Surely it would be easy to get to Gothenburg for this year's O-Ringen? Well, we couldn't take the direct, cheap flight from Stansted because the dog was staying at her holiday home in Wakefield, so it was Manchester and full fare, with a change at Copenhagen on both legs! A late evening arrival also meant a drive for son-in-law Eric, and going back to collect the hire car the next day; but with a training area nearby that seemed OK. We stayed with Ann, Eric and Miia in a stuga north of Gothenburg, actually quite close to the airport used by the cheaper carriers.

The Event Centre was on the north bank of the Gota river, in the old ship-building area that has now been re-developed. Unfortunately the training area by the airport was so popular that they could only offer us black photocopies, still it did provide the relative luxury of getting into Swedish terrain and maps, rather than the baptism of fire of straight into Day 1.

The scale of the organisation is evident from the first moment and I'll try to illustrate this rather than give a detailed account of each day.

Day 1 Partille

-Car parking in industrial units meant long walks to assembly field, in fact both this and the walk to the start were each longer than my H55S course.

-We were entered with Järfälla OK (Stockholm) so we could have start times close to Ann and help look after Miia. In Sweden virtually all events are entered through the club, they even had our SI numbers from previous years.

-A motorway junction was closed so courses could leave the forest, cross the access road, and enter the finish/assembly area. 9 lanes on a long run-in provide a focus for clubs to organise themselves around.

-Terrain was hilly with plenty of marsh and contour detail, and this summer being like ours, it poured down for a good bit of the course. Final legs down hillside were deep in mud and slippery from thousands of shoes.

Day 2 Kungälv

-Close to our stuga, so no early rise, area very close to town for our shorter courses; hilly with paths and rock detail but managed to have trouble with a couple of controls, what rocks and bumps have they mapped?

-Assembly area has the usual array of toilets (no sanitary fluid allowed), together with organized handwashing. On leaving to go back to the car park, everyone was given a free roll of loo paper by the sponsors (could that happen in GB?)

-Swedish folk orchestra played from the side of a large truck throughout. Local flavour makes a change from the dozens of Russians trying to sponsor their attendance by selling ski poles and Moscow compasses.

-There are 9 different starts, each has its own sponsor so you need to know which crocodile to follow.

Day 3 Skatas

-Campers have to use the bus all the time, and today everyone else had to as well. Parked car in the Haselbad complex near the Event Centre, then long walk to and from bus pick up.

-Assembly at a municipal park / sports area on edge of forest, many club huts for all kinds of sports and companies based in the complex. You need to look for your club flag, Järfälla aim for 2/3rds down right hand side of run-in. Big screen TV follows elite progress in forest each day.

-Area has lots of parallel rocky ridges with marshes and lakes in between. H55S had one leg that used fixed ropes to get down crags- no warning given either in programme or on map!

Day 4 Torslanda

-Most technical of all the areas, close to coast with complex hills covered in semi-open and few useful line features. In previous event even H21 was won in nearly 10min/Ks.

--Car parks a long walk to assembly, remember that you have to take a lot with you (clothing changes, seat and food), especially as the Swedes expect everyone to use the hot showers before leaving assembly.

-Return walk passed through industrial area, we couldn't resist sitting outside one of the many cafes for extra après-run refreshment.

Day 5 Mölndal

-Long detail routes to event using closely marshaled roads. The use of army and police for this is a feature of each day, organizing club members only taking over in the fields.

-Chasing start with long walk to starts through golf course. Terrain complex, small hills with marsh navigation needed on many legs. More paths/cross country ski runs nearer to the finish area.

-As usual there are constant updates from radio controls and lots of interviews with winners of courses.

Croeso 2004 - Steve Cartwright

Days 1,2,6 Sennybridge MOD Training area with its grassland, hills, tussocks, hedges, discarded shells and armoured vehicles.

Day 3 Blaenafon. Great orienteering on coal spoil, moorland and crags.

Day 4 Carneddau. Grassy hills and fences. Good run downhill to the finish..

Day 5 Ogof Fynnon Ddu. Moorland with its bogs, pits, crags and limestone.

People: The Pugh family, Colin & Lyn West and friends, John & Jenny Collyer, John & Geraldine, Mark and James +, Miss Tant and friend, Steve Cartwright and Geoff Powell-Davies.

Camping at Brecon: Although not everyone camped the event campsite was simple but nice on a school playing field with lovely views towards Pen-y-fan and with a Sports Centre next door. Camping next to the athletics track it was nice to see the youngsters going through their training on club night followed by what appeared a club long jump competition (with everyone taking part).

The campsite children had the opportunity of swimming and ten pin bowls.

Weather: Lovely sunshine at times but it did seem it could rain out of a clear sky at times - all a bit worrying. Then there was the wind. Nice that the Event Centre in the school gave somewhere people could go and also provided food. Having said that, it was generally warm.

Orienteering: Event parking was generally within an hours drive of Brecon, although it did seem that you could travel for miles on minor or MOD roads and tracks.

Sennybridge was probably a little easier than the other areas as hedges often provided nice hand rails and attack points. The other days were probably more technical with errors easy over long legs. Lyn thinks she was off themap one day, I was in serious trouble with my angles a couple of days, and John found himself going totally in the wrong direction. A difficulty in only mapping the competition area is that you've no external reference if you get lost. On difficult terrain it can be hard to relocate.

I discovered one of the wonders of electronic SI in that if you forget your last control you've no record. Real trouble. Obviously a clipped card helps there.

Then theres the waggly thing! It does prove hard to trust your compass when its moving about. Its strange how they can seem to settle and then move again. Apparently Mr Silva was the man who invented the liquid filled compass whereby you could run and still have a stable needle. I think Mr Recta and Mr Moscow should speak to him! Apparently you can spend 50 or more for a good one but obviously thats a lot of cash. Perhaps trials of different compasses at events would be a good thing.

Again I think my own club member was trying to lead me astray on one occasion too!

It was great that some from the club did very well and that generally everybody got round. I guess results will be elsewhere in the newsletter.

(Ed. Well done to Sebastian Pugh on winning M18S. He won on all of the 6 days.)

SOS Notice Board


After much discussion we are trying a different format for the AGM this year, and hope that you will want to come. We plan to have the AGM at 8 pm, followed by a home-made two-course meal, at a charge of 2.00 per head to include drinks. Vegetarians will be catered for!!

This will be a great opportunity to see how the club works, to learn more about the sport and to put forward your views. By having a meal afterwards there will be an opportunity to continue any lengthy discussions in a congenial setting. Please note that we absolutely promise that you will NOT be dragooned onto the committee if you attend - we'd really like to hear from the members, and hope that this will prove a suitable, sociable setting.

Date: - Friday October 15th, 7.45 for 8pm

Location: - 9 Moatfields, Fordham

2.00 per head for home-made 2 course meal with drinks - please let Julia Robertson ( 01206 242283) know if you are coming, so we can get the catering right.



I am the co-ordinator of the Junior European Cup, this year being hosted by East Anglia and CHIG. I am in desperate need of some helpers to run the events, mostly the Sprint Race in Harlow Town Park on Friday October 8th but also the relays in Hatfield Forest on Sunday 10th. Friday is particularly tricky as it is a work day and we need anti-vandal patrols. So if you do not work on Fridays, I would be grateful for your help (start times from 4pm).

The event will be a good opportunity to see the top European Juniors in action, including our own Suzy Robertson & Chris Sellens. The Sprint Race is planned for winning times of 12-15 minutes, so the action will be fast and furious. The individual race on Saturday on Epping East will be a classic style event and the weekend is rounded off with the relay in Hatfield Forest. Spectator controls are included and a commentary from Andy Munro should make this a spectator friendly event. So please do come along to cheer the British Team and a bit of your time to help would be appreciated.

More details of the event are available on Full British team selections can be found on

Lyn West 01206 322905

SOS National Ranking Positions

This list is complete for events up to the 21st August 2004. 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.

M21L  72nd  Jeff Powell Davies    M60L 127th  John Russell  
     182nd  Peter Finch           M70L  26th  Jack Isbester            
M35S  76th  Robert Hammond        W20L   5th  Suzy Robertson
M45L  35th  Andrew Malley               13th  Nicola Robertson
      85th  Clive Tant            W21L  46th  Eleanor West             
     109th  Mark Lyne             W21S  31st  Miriam Pugh        
     111th  Colin West            W45L  33rd  Hilary Sellens
     144th  Geoff Pye             W45S  21st  Wendy Welham
M50L  19th  Martin Sellens        W50L  40th  Lyn West
      53rd  Steve Robertson             91st  N.Powell Davies(5)
      54th  Nick Pugh             W50S  29th  Julia Robertson         
M50S  78th  Richard Barker(5)     W55L  13th  Jenny Collyer
M55S  34th  John Collyer          W60L  30th  Geraldine Russell

Schools' League News - Dave Birkett

The season came to an end at Highwoods Country Park in June. It was a tight finish for some of the year groups, with winners only being decided that day. Well done to all the winners and everybody who took part. There is always next season for those who were disappointed with this year's result. Now is the time to start planning for your future success. Some of you got certificates and trophies after the Highwood's event. For the rest I sent certificates to the various schools for them to present. One trophy also went out this way. The recipient was a little reluctant to receive it. This made me reflect back a few years ago when I completed my D of E gold award and was refusing to have it presented. I thought it was unnecessary to have paper recognition of the award; it was enough to have taken part. I'm glad now, for various reasons, that I took advantage of some sound advice and collected my certificate.

The ESSOL results are now a mouse click away on the SOS web site, which I hope is on your computer's favourites list.

The Schools Day at Wivenhoe Park was a great success. Lots of young people tried Orienteering, mostly for the first time. Well done Julia Robertson for organising this event.

Hope you are having or have had, depending on when you read this, a great summer and are looking forward to next years events. The first SOS ESSOL event is 26th September 2004 at Hatfield Forest.

Notley Country Park - The Genesis of a Map - John Collyer

Situated on the south-west side of Braintree, even if you didn't know of it's existence, you may well have seen two associated features :

Like me you may have passed both dozens of times without realizing about their link with a possible new orienteering area.

Initial approaches some time ago were met with positive responses, and Andrew Cordle was able to pass on a series of maps and information from Braintree District Council. BDC seem happy to use the area for running, it has hosted the Essex Cross Country Relay Championships and one of the "Runs for Life".

A walk around the area with Jenny and Meg gave a favourable impression, with plenty of variety for a small area; large and small lakes, large knolls - wooded and open, meadows separated by ditches and hedges, and a helpful series of paths for novices. Although not large at about 100 acres, it may support standard courses up to Light Green, the development and management of the Park has led to this mixture of landscapes. Originally flat farmland, the first phase involved the excavation of two large lakes in the southern part, the subsequent spoil being used to form a series of elongated knolls on the western and southern sides, and the large hill in the north. The hill is not a simple "lump" but has been carefully shaped on the southern side to provide what is officially known as the Notley Open Air Arena. Seeing this for the first time should make you think of your favourite music being performed "al fresco".

When beginning a new map, or resurveying an old one, the mapper needs to be sure of the accuracy of the base map to be used. You never have to start with a blank piece of paper, but the more accurate the detail available, the easier the job. Even a map which has gone through a number of additions may have some detail that needs initial rechecking - e.g. whenever we start a revision of Hylands Park, there always seems to be a need to move at least one of the copses scattered across the parkland. The maps provided by BDC were of a wide range of scales and formats, it took several cross checks against the local OS 1:25,000 to confirm the scales involved. Fortunately, current scanning software allied to OCAD, are very flexible and powerful tools for setting up a template of known scale. The template sits behind the OCAD drawing screen which then behaves like a piece of tracing paper with mapped features being plotted on top. The retention of the original field boundaries as shown on the OS map, provided a series of very useful reference points and lines for plotting the other features.

Some other features however, proved to be more schematic in nature, requiring a larger input of mapping effort. Talking to the current officer in charge, I attempted to obtain some accurate details of two sets of features; the planting layout of the copses, and the positions and heights of the knolls. Unfortunately, accurate details of plantings were not available, and although there were some detailed plans of the knolls, these were original "ideas", the real positions and shapes clearly varying from these. The large hill is of undetermined height, and was described with the comment as "not being as high as originally intended". This left me with the prospect of having to estimate the number of contours needed to show both height and shape as clearly as possible. Contour interval in a small area can be problematic, the OS showed just two standard 5m contours going virtually straight across the area, whereas the bulk of knolls needed finer detail at a scale which would leave the large hill as a series of tight, concentric brown lines. Given the large scale of the map, it looks as though an interval of about 5m, with assistance from form lines will probably fit the bill.

The extent of an area also has to carefully researched, it is simple to assume that all those shown on a submitted map will be available for events, and it is all too easy to transgress into the land of adjacent owners. Signs are rarely erected telling you when you pass from one owner to another. The last lesson was one we learnt with Chalkney, where a small area in the east was neither Forest Enterprise nor Essex County Council, and caused acute embarrassment when we chose to locate the start of an event in it, only to be met by the actual owner as people were beginning their courses!

The final map scale needs careful thought, for although OCAD and SOSprint will allow changes right up to the day of the event for specific needs, Notley Park is not without some problems. The standard scale of 1:10,000 could leave some of the more detailed areas difficult to represent clearly, and "longer" courses with so many lines and circles that they would obliterate much detail on the map; so there was a need to increase the scale and with it the overall size of the map. How much will fit on a sheet of A4 also depends on the areas available and their overall shape. One area of the Park will never have public access, another new area will be sealed off for 10 years, and the sports pitches will be out-of-bounds to events. These limitations helped to set the final map scale at 1:5000, the "lost" areas allowing enough room for legend and map to nicely fit on A4.

News from the Woodland Trust - Jack Isbester

Park Farm, Havering

Good news is that Essex woodlands are scheduled for further expansion. The Woodland Trust has acquired Park Farm, 53 hectares (130 acres) of farmland adjoining Hainault Forest and have "exciting and ambitious plans to turn this area of arable land into a thriving new woodland with glades and meadows for all to enjoy".

This should increase the area of Havoc's O-map by about 20% and will doubtless increase our enjoyment of the area by at least the same amount.

The Woodland Trust write "Until the 19th Century the northern part of Havering was part of Hainault Forest while the southern half, until the mid 1600s, was part of the deer park for the Royal Palace at Havering Atte Bower. In 1544 Henry VIII ordered an inventory of the forest at Hainault which then covered 3,000 acres."

The Woodland Trust welcome donations to support their objectives which are the protection of ancient woodland, increasing new native woodland, restoring and improving woodland biodiversity and increasing people's understanding and enjoyment of woodland.

Donate via their credit card hotline 0800 026 9650 or online at

Answers to the questions you cannot ask - A guide to the Facts of Life from Jack Isbester

It is natural for young people to be uncertain about the great world around them and I haven't been surprised when young Stragglers have come to me for advice. "Suppose I'm elected to hoist the Stragglers' kite on our new flagstaff at the JK campsite", they say, "and I don't know the correct procedure". If we're honest most of us will admit that in our younger days we've lain awake at night with those same anxieties.

It was when I crawled out of my tent alongside the NOR contingent at a JK some years ago that I first became aware of the formalities. It was 0800 hrs and Lionel Eagles was standing stiffly to attention as one of his clubmates raised the NOR kite to the top of their flagstaff. That's really doing it in style, I thought. How can the Stragglers ever beat that? Now we can, because we have a taller flagstaff.

This is the procedure.

  1. Fit together the pole sections. The section fitted with guy ropes should be at the top.
  2. Lay the pole on the ground with its base at the position where the pole is to stand.
  3. Fasten the SOS kite to the top of the pole.
  4. From the base of the pole pace 4 metres at right angles to the axis of the pole and hammer in a tent peg. Lay out one of the guyropes and fasten it to the tent peg.
  5. Do the same with a second guy rope on the opposite side of the pole.
  6. Hammer in a third tent peg beside the pole, about 4 metres from the base. Fasten a guy rope to the tent peg, leaving plenty of slack to allow the pole to be raised to the vertical.
  7. With one foot on the base of the pole, mallet in one hand, fourth tent peg in the other and fourth guy rope between your teeth haul the pole upright, hammer in the tent peg and secure the fourth guy rope to it.
  8. It may be necessary to adjust the length of the third guy rope, or others, to ensure that the pole is absolutely upright.

Easy-peasy! I hear you say. But, you're thinking, is a musical accompaniment necessary? Well, it's not strictly necessary but it would certainly be worth asking Gordon Neilson, if he happened to be camped nearby, to give you a couple of verses of "The Stragglers' Reel" on the bagpipes. No need to warn him beforehand? he's always ready to turn out at short notice.

Flagpole raising seems like a good theme for a Stragglers' competition against the clock! How about trying it at Hatfield?

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.


The 2004 Annual General Meeting for the Essex Stragglers Orienteering Society will be held on Friday 15th October at 8.00pm at 9 Moatfields, Fordham, near Colchester at the kind invitation of Steve and Julia Robertson.


  1. Apologies for Absence
  2. Minutes of 2003 AGM
  3. Matters arising from the Minutes
  4. Chairman's Report
  5. Treasurer's Report and Statement of Accounts for 2003/04
  6. Subscription Rates for coming year
  7. Amendment to Club Constitution to include BOF Child Protection Policy (see below*)
  8. Election of Officers:
  9. Any Other Business

* Item 7: The proposed amendment to the Club Constitution is the insertion of a new paragraph as paragraph 4 and the renumbering of all subsequent paragraphs. The new paragraph to read: "The Society is intent that children and vulnerable adults will find orienteering a safe environment in which to have fun, learn and develop. The Club will do this by adopting and promoting the British Orienteering Federation Policy on Protecting Young and Vulnerable People."