Training Tour

Lakeland Warrior, it emerged, was 75% accurately named, and it is illustrative to examine why. The source of the first 50% is straightforward: despite Saturday’s ‘Haverthwaite Heights’ sounding like a Wodehousian country estate and Sunday’s ‘Witherslack’ like a Minecraft biome, both were in fact Lakeland forests.

Where does the other 25% come from? The obvious candidate would be the remaining half of the title. Unfortunately, this word is ‘warrior’; the weekend’s event was not, as this would imply, a military exercise. No, it was a pair of orienteering races organised by Masterplan Adventure, to the relief of all attendees.

To find our other 25%, we must re‐examine the first word, Lakeland. We must also examine Sunday’s terrain. Ah, yes, ‘lake‐land’!

So, Lakeland Warrior was 150% Lakeland and 0% warrior, but what happened there?

‘To Haverthwaite Heights’, came the morning’s cry. And off we went, guided by two contrasting voices: the soothing, angelic Australian of Eric’s sat. nav. and the manic chant of the M6 junction signs. Good triumphed over evil, and we made it to the forest unscathed.

It was not a dry forest; it was not a grippy forest. Those in trail shoes wished they had fell shoes, those in fell shoes wished they had dobbs, and those with dobbs wished for innovations in shoe technology.

Not that any of us did particularly well: shoe choice seemed to have little effect on performance, mainly affecting the pleasure one could extract from the universal failure. Those satisfied with their choice described the run with terms such as ‘fun’, ‘enjoyed’ and ‘😊’. Those who didn’t? Well, I fell clearly into that camp, and spent my race tumbling from rock to rock, destroying as I went both the delicate outer layers of my body and as many ‘borrowed’ compasses as I could get my paws on.

Witherslack was not deep and dark, as woods are in fairy tales, but long and thin, as woods are in golf. As a consequence, the maps were unusually proportioned. Wrangling these presented us with no problem, proving once and for all that orienteers and not long-jump-measurers are best suited to defend the Earth from an invading flock of alien tapeworms.

Everyone did much better here: fewer mistakes were made, and complaints switched from ‘too slippy’ to ‘too long’ (which is an improvement). Pete managed, somehow, to orienteer so fast that the limiting factor became the drag caused by thorns rubbing against his chest. James, frontal-friction-free as ever, was even faster.

It was at this point that your author disappeared, as if by magic – or, more precisely, as if by Ana driving him – to spend the next three days slowly pushing at the handle of the great, crushing mechanical wheel of Capitalism. The task of describing these few days thus falls to our venerable captain.

Multinational corporations really are the plague of our current era, exploiting their workers for little pay and even worse working conditions. And it turns out that not even the illustrious Masterplan Adventure – with operations spanning from the fells of England to the coasts of Scotland – are exempt from this sweeping generalisation of all things corporate and multinational. And thus it came to be that four CUOCers were offered up to esteemed organiser Mr Pedley for the purposes of control collection. Perhaps it was because we would have been less than useless in our post-‘too long’ wet and frozen state, or maybe The Boss had read up on employment law – but mercilessly, we were permitted to conduct the control collection the following day by sun- (as opposed to torch-) light.

Sunday evening saw the arrival of various cars with various people to the Hawksheadian village of Hawkshead. I say various people, as most were heralding from Oxford – even one (alleged) CUOCer – and thus they require no further description. In contrast, and unlike last year, the Tesco order heralded from Kendal, which was very good news as far as our stomachs were concerned. Food was made, and times were had.

Monday dawned: most headed to Dale Park for an intro to the Lakes terrain, whilst the Fearful Four fulfilled our contractual obligations, before echo locating our way to the rest of the group. That afternoon a clock relay was commenced…

Esthwaite Intake clearly looked at our experience of Monday and decided we hadn’t got cold enough, and so overnight brewed a delicious marshy mixture to quench our feet. Beautiful bits of white were enjoyed… and we’ll claim the same can be said for the felled areas.

Now came the day we’d all be saving our energy for… the rest day. Decisions, decisions. Should we stay home and rest our legs? Should we go for some Lakeland retail therapy? Nah, let’s walk up a hill – Wetherlam, to be precise, which gave us the opportunity to scope out tomorrow’s area from afar, and Dom’s Rave Caves © – promising stuff. The evening saw an enforced pub trip to Coniston – with these kinds of policies, we can all get on board with Girlguiding.

We then proceeded to brace ourselves… for the return of Tom! (phew, that’s the bulk of my writing done)

I returned on Thursday morning, and we made our way to Yewdale. On arrival, minds flashed in every direction: above, to Wetherlam, across, to the uncrossable marshes, and backwards in time to the last time we were here. Not to mention, in a few cases, although we’ll omit names, downwards, and forwards in time, to Warmth.

This day raised a great many questions, few of which would receive satisfactory answers: without forest obstructing the view, why is it no easier? What is an ‘ECTXIE’? (A cave.) Why is a member of the group vanishing into the distance? If it is uncrossable, can we cross it? (Please don’t.) Why do some members of the club have an apparent phobia of clothing layers? Can we jump down this cliff? (No.) If this is a qualifier, what, precisely are we qualifying for? (Wait and see till Saturday.) Eventually, however, we ran out of both things to ask and courses to run, so we went home.

Friday: traditionally, of course, the day of fries, but we are an orienteering club, not a chippy, and so, dutifully, we substituted the potato with lumps of rock and earth, and the oil with fresh water. Together, these formed beautiful lake-hills, or, to use the terms derived from Old Norse, Tarn Hows.

We had prepared sketch maps of the area the night before. All were wary of this exercise: a few smudged lines of monochrome biro is not a lot to navigate by. Those with at least a sliver of artistic talent would find this course, as Adam put it, ‘surprisingly OK’. Those of us less gifted? Looking at our map attempts made holding in breakfast a challenge, never mind navigating.

The afternoon featured a score event with two novelties. First, providing plenty of points and proving popular, a pretty picture, perched on the, err, pont.

The scoring picture.

Secondly, it became, subject to certain conditions, legal to pick up and tame wild controls. Doing so was worth a few points, and wreaked confusion on anyone following.

The evening was MicroO-blessed. This event was compliant with the first rule of MicroO, which states that the deciding factors of the competition must neither relate to orienteering nor be predictable before the event begins. In this case, these key skills turned out to be shoelace-tying and jigsaw-solving.

Saturday arrived. At last, we would discover what we had worked so hard to qualify for on Thursday. Few were surprised to discover that it was another orienteering race, this time with a quasi-chasing-start. The official benefit of this over a standard, ‘quasi’-free chasing start was, I believe, communicated to us at the time, but escapes my memory. However, the practical upside was clear: it makes it easier to achieve the theoretical minimum amount of time between warm coat removal and the start of the race.

This was a nice race to finish off my week, but the rest had more still to come. Once again, I will hand you back to Dom, for all the racy details of Sunday’s juice (or something like that):

I’ll be honest, the potential enjoyment of Sunday’s race offer from WCOC was not entirely clear to see. A 3-hour score on a bizarre 1:12500 A3 map, with just contours on the map than controls on offer. Less fun finale sprint, more mountain marathon. Just what you want when it’s 40mph gusts… Fortunately, we were only entered on the 1-hour score – no one was complaining. In the end, it turned out to actually be rather fun in a ‘survival’ mode kind of way. Those who chose well even got to be blown up a hill – possibly my fastest split of the whole thing. Fun was had, controls were found, and a warm clubhouse back at download provided a lovely departure point.

All joking aside, a big thank you to Oxford for organising all aspects of the tour. That mean’s its over to us next year… watch this space - #wintersun anyone?

© 1990–2024 CUOC Sitemap