Callow Hill

If RV hadn’t mentioned it on Sunday, I’m sure I wouldn’t have gone. I’ve never night-orienteered before and I’ve never thought I wanted to. But I couldn’t have picked a better night to pop my night-o cherry: the skies were calm and perfectly clear. Late in my run, running back towards the finish, I looked up and the beautiful sight of the moon and stars above the trees made me stop and stare with elation.

Owning up time: this was a score event: find as many controls as you can in one hour, and I didn’t have a watch. Now and again I saw another runner and knew I still had time, but I was amazed when I got back to the finish and discovered that I’d been out for one hour and thirty seconds. Also, the LED headtorch I got for under a tenner from Lidl (or Aldi) is inadequate. It wasn’t too bad in the trees, but the light was hardly giving me any information when I was on the paths.

I’m not sure how keen I am on score events. Having to confect one’s own course is a whole extra level of decision-making on top of the difficult-enough task of simply having to find the controls. Richard, the planner, had arranged eight relatively easy-to-find controls within easy reach of the start, but I fancied stretching my legs so I headed off into the wood. (The trickier, more distant controls were worth more points.)

My expectations were low: I thought I’d find about six controls and end up with a minus score because I’d be so late back. (Points are deducted if you take more than an hour.) But I didn’t disgrace myself. In fact I felt quite proud of myself when I found control 11, and that gave me confidence to carry on. It was really quite scary sometimes, not because of the hooting of owls, but because as soon as you leave the path you are automatically lost in a closed forest in the dark. You cling on to your map, your compass and the moon for dear life. (I should’ve clung on a bit better to my control card – I dropped it on the way to #23!) Now and again there’s the reassuring glow from someone’s headlamp, but then they’re gone again.

Callow Hill map extract

I wonder what’s off the map here? I nearly found out. After #14 I accidentally headed WNW, crossed the stream and, luckily, before I headed off into the ether, I had a look at my compass, which told me north wasn’t where I thought it was.

The first task tonight was getting to the venue. Here’s a map of the course (click to enlarge):

 Car-O puzzle

I think my money’s safe, but free entry to the local event of your choice for anyone who works out the route I took from Kingstanding to Bewdley. Clue: I left home at 1710 and it took me 73 minutes. Clue 2: I was told there were roadworks on the A456 between Kidderminster and Bewdley.