Introduction to Orienteering

What is Orienteering?

Orienteering is a sport in which you find your way around a course between control points marked on a specially drawn coloured map with a high level of detail. There is no set route so the skill and fun come from trying to choose your own route and finding the best way to go. It combines running (or walking) and navigation skills.  In competitive orienteering, the challenge is to complete the course in the quickest time.

Here’s  the BBC’s Mike Bushell giving it a try:


Most orienteering events take place in forests, though they can be run on any kind of terrain, including open moorland, local parks, sand dunes, and even city streets. You may get to see places that others don’t because Orienteering events are often held on land with no public access.

Wherever it occurs, orienteering usually involves visiting pre-designated places (we call them Controls) in a particular order. The winner of any course is the person who has visited all the Controls on their particular course in the shortest time. This means thinking carefully about your route. Sometimes it will be quickest to go along paths, sometimes the faster route is a more direct one across rougher ground.

Orienteering can be a highly competitive sport, and our elite class athletes compete at the very top level in world competition. But many people participate in the sport for fun, and there are events throughout the year catering for the very widest possible range of ages and ability levels. Events will regularly have people ranging from 7 to 85! Each event will also have a variety of courses that suit different ages and levels of experience. Many orienteers enjoy the social side of the sport – seeing regular faces around the UK (and abroad too), and making new friends from different walks of life. And speaking of ‘walks’ people participate at their own pace – from fast taxing runs to comfortable jogs and leisurely walks. The choice is yours.

Hertfordshire Orienteering, like other orienteering clubs, welcomes members of all standards and all ages.

Is it for me?

In short, Yes. Orienteering is for everyone. It is an exciting outdoor adventure sport suitable for all ages and fitness levels that exercises both mind and body.

Getting started..

Click here.. to go to our Getting Started page that details how to find and enter your first event.