Orienteering goes back in time

North West Orienteering Club (NWOC) celebrated its 40th birthday in December. To celebrate, it laid on a score orienteering event in Limavady’s Roe Valley Country Park. Little did I know that it was going to be a “Back to the Future” experience.

Map of Roe Valley Country Park from 40 odd years ago... some details have changed a bit since then.
Map of Roe Valley Country Park from 40 odd years ago… some details have changed a bit since then.

We had 45 minutes to visit as many controls as possible, with scores for each ranging from 10 to 30 points. The only difference was that we had not one but two maps to work from. That would have been fine, only one of the maps was from 2012 and the other was from the 1970s.

The first task was to match up similar features on each of the maps. This was easier said than done. The only feature I could identify on both maps was O’Cahan’s Rock Car Park. Then I noticed that the car park on was the top end of the new map and the bottom end of the old map. This led to the next mind bender: the old map had north running from the top of the page down, and the new map had north going in the opposite direction, bottom to top.

Current version of the Roe Valley Country Park Orienteering Map with all up-to-date details.
Current version of the Roe Valley Country Park Orienteering Map with all up-to-date details.

And of course, over the last 40 odd years, several features had changed. Tracks were different, bridges had been built, forested areas had totally changed. Fortunately most of the depressions and crags where the controls were placed hadn’t moved much over the years.

It took a good 20 minutes of running before I could see how the maps matched up. The flicking back and forth between the maps though made my head hurt. But fortunately I got lucky on the course. I was running for control 218 on the new map only to run straight past control 202 on the old map by accident.

The only mistake I made was from sheer amnesia. The changing from one map to the next made me forget which controls I had punched and those left to get. So it wasn’t surprising that I arrived at the finish thinking I had bagged them all when really I had forgotten to pick up control 211 from 40 years ago.

It was a fun day out, a bit of craic, and a good way to celebrate a birthday. However I’ll be glad to go back to proper orienteering and only have one map to deal with that is accurate as of today.

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