Everything You Need to Know About Orienteering With a Disability
If you want to have an adventure in the great outdoors, then orienteering is the sport for you! Whether you want to go on an exciting escapade through the wilderness or just get to grips with using a map, there are plenty of ways to experience orienteering.
While something like orienteering might initially seem inaccessible, there are many ways it can be adapted to suit the needs of each individual taking part. At Calvert Exmoor, we endeavour to make all our adventure activities accessible to all, ensuring that no matter your ability, you can enjoy a wide range of exhilarating outdoor experiences.
What is Orienteering
Orienteering is an activity where you find specific markers or checkpoints using a map and compass.
There is no set course, and the aim is to make your way to each point on the map, figuring out the best route as you go. Deciding how to get from A to B in the best way is all part of the challenge and fun of orienteering; it is something that takes concentration, practice and skill.
In competitive orienteering, the aim is to find each marker (a square made of a white and orange triangle) in the fastest time. If you’re just taking part for fun, it’s all about the journey you make and the skills you pick up along the way.
The Benefits of Orienteering For People with Disabilities
Our adventure breaks encourage people with different disabilities to enjoy the benefits of spending time outdoors doing exciting activities. Orienteering is a wonderfully adaptive activity that allows you to take things at your own pace and appreciate the natural world around you.
Most of the time, orienteering will take place outdoors, and you’ll explore trails and moorland or woodland paths. So long as you ensure the route and surrounding area is accessible, there is no reason why everyone cannot have a go at this sport.
Benefits of orienteering include:
- Spending time outdoors, which can improve health and wellbeing.
- Providing an opportunity to exercise, improve physical fitness, coordination and stamina.
- Learning how to map read and use a compass, which encourages you to focus on a goal and concentrate.
- Bonding with others and improving communication skills.
Safety Considerations When Orienteering
We wouldn’t recommend orienteering alone, especially for those who haven’t done it before. Instead, treat it as a group activity where everyone can contribute to the quest as you figure out where to go next as a team.
Everyone can contribute to the activity by recognising map colours, using the compass or looking out for buildings and features.
How is Orienteering Adapted for People with Disabilities?
Trail Orienteering, or TrailO, is a version of competitive orienteering that ensures people of all abilities can participate. This form of the sport is designed to reduce the physical components of orienteering, with a greater focus on the puzzle-solving aspect, making it more accessible to wheelchair users and those with limited mobility.
Unlike other forms of orienteering, there is a set route to follow, as shown on a map. The challenge is to find the right markers, among many.
Participants use map reading and navigational skills to complete the course and find the correct markers as they go along. Several markers can be found at a site, but only one will exactly match the description and position.
Orienteering at Calvert Exmoor
Orienteering is one of the many exciting activities we offer as part of the Calvert experience. The sport is a great way of exploring the trails around our accessible site and encourages guests to enjoy spending time outdoors.
We have a range of fun ‘themed’ markers around the site for guests to find as they learn how to navigate and map read. This offers a great opportunity for guests to work together, develop friendships and work on their problem-solving skills.
Guests are also welcome to ask reception staff or instructors to do orienteering in their own time as our trails are safe and easily navigable.
Expert Orienteering Tips for Beginners
So you like the sound of orienteering but don’t know where to start?
Back in 2020, Sam, one of our activity instructors, gave his top tips for those that want to have a go at orienteering and enjoying the great outdoors in this exciting way.
1. Use Your Map & Compass
“Figure out where on the map you are before going anywhere. Often the starting point is identified on an orienteering map, but if not, you can do this by looking around you.
Roads or paths marked on the map that lead north are a great way to identify your location, perhaps things like a split in the path with one route going north. Check your compass to make sure.
I like to orientate the map, so the path I am currently on is in line with where I am going; this might mean turning the map so the path points in the same direction of travel. Make sure to keep north in mind and to turn the map northwards are regular intervals.”
2. Plan Your Route
“Pick the first point you have been tasked to find, and before moving off, plan where you are going. It is a good idea to visualise where you will be going at all times. I find identifying a shape useful. For example, if you know the overall route is a rough circle, then most of the turnings will bear in the same direction.
Say to yourself and the other people in your group things like ‘OK so we take this path, then a left, and after some distance, we should see a gate’ as you go along.”
3. Keep Locating Yourself on the Map
“A control point or marker is great for confirming your location. Once you have found and confirmed it, you will be able to say with certainty where you are on the map. You can then use your compass to orientate yourself in the direction of the next control point and plan the next leg accordingly.
However, it’s very important to check that the point you have found is the correct one. It’s easy to see a marker on the way to another and then assume your position, which could cause navigation errors or make you lose your place on the map.
Relocation – finding your position on the map if lost – is not simple and can seem scary. Often there is no single way to relocate your position on the map straight away, so continue onwards until you can find features that you can relate to on the map.”
4. Use Your Surroundings to Your Advantage
“Landmarks; buildings, roads, hills and lakes are obvious features both on the map and when looking around that can help guide you in the right direction.
‘Line’ features (paths or fences) visible on the map can be followed or used to orientate yourself in a direction.
This is useful in relocating yourself if you have gone wrong and are lost.
Again communicate with each other and ensure you have shared goals as you travel: ‘We need to keep this hill on our left-hand side as we cross this field’ or ‘the next marker should be on the other side of that stream’ and so on.”
5. Figure Out Distances
“It is very easy to overshoot and miss a set point or marker, especially early on when excitement and energy levels are high.
If you know the next point is, say, 100m along the path, then keep this in mind, and if you feel you have gone farther, then you might well have missed it and gone too far. Time to turn around and relocate!”
Anyone can enjoy orienteering and all the benefits it can bring! If you or someone you know is interested in our orienteering activities or any of our other accessible adventure activities, why not book a break with us a Calvert Exmoor?
If you have any questions about booking an adventure holiday with us, please get in touch with our fantastic team.