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What is a Permanent Orienteering Course?

Map extract

A Permanent Orienteering Course is a set of plaques often wooden posts or other features (typically 20-30 of them), spread around a park, together with a map showing where they all are. Your challenge is to discover these checkpoints, in forests, heathlands, parks and green spaces across the UK.

Map extract Control

Each post or plaque is called a control, which has a code (usually letters) and a symbol on it. The control code is shown next to the circle on the map which matches the control on the ground; writing down (or recording) the matching symbol is proof you’ve been there.

Some Permanent Orienteering Courses also have QR codes on the markers and have also been set up as virtual courses, which used together with a downloadable app on a smartphone, can produce timings and course results which you can upload later.

How to use a Permanent Orienteering Course

On the back of every map, or provided separately, you will find suggested courses - lists of controls to go to, in what order, and how far and difficult each course would be and you can either

  • See how long it takes to visit every control
  • See how many controls you can visit in a chosen time
  • Improve your fitness with training exercises - start and visit a single control and come back (stars); or go out for two or three controls and come back (loops).

This video introduces how to use a Permanent Orienteering Course, and shows you some handy tips on getting started

Your time, your pace, your adventure

A Permanent Orienteering Course is the perfect way for getting active, enjoying the scenery and green spaces with your family, or a chance to get outdoors for a competitive time trial. The combination of physical and mental exercise often in stunning locations is like no other, as you can find, navigate and complete courses at any time, at your own pace.

You just need to download a map using our handy course finder to get you started!

If you enjoy Permanent Orienteering Courses, you may want to try a local club event, where electronic controls are placed out on individual, unique courses (from easy to hard) – find out more about your local club and Orienteering events here.

Constantly improving our Permanent Orienteering Courses

Some of our courses are maintained by our extensive network of Orienteering clubs and volunteers, others by the council or organisation that owns the land. Please bear in mind that there is a chance that things like building works, fallen trees or vandalism may mean that a control is no longer where it was originally installed. If you can't find a control, it may be smothered in recent undergrowth, or it may have been stolen, or you might just be in the wrong place! Similarly maps change all the time - felling, planting, natural growth, brambles, and for example vegetation can be different at different times of year. So please do review our courses and feedback so we can keep course information as up to date as possible.