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About Nottinghamshire Orienteering Club (NOC)


Orienteering started in Nottinghamshire in 1966 with an event in Sherwood Forest, with the Nottinghamshire Orienteering Club being formed in 1967. Some of its original members remain members of the club today. With a membership of approximately 150 NOC is part of the East Midlands Orienteering Association (EMOA).
Geographically the club covers the county of Nottinghamshire, and most of our mapped areas used for events lie within the remnants of the once extensive Sherwood Forest.

Club Objective

To further the development of, and participation in, the sport of orienteering.

Club Members

The club has a number of members who give their time to the development of the sport at regional and national level.

Club Motto

To be a truly thriving club, with an active, contributing membership of all ages and abilities.

Club Events

The club has teams that participate in:
  • Compass Sport CupThe national club competition that consists of a springtime regional round and an autumn national final.
  • Yvette Baker Trophy The Junior equivalent of the Compass Sport Cup that works to a similar format.
  • Harvester Relay A high summer overnight relay with teams of seven for the men's open class and five for the women's, junior and handicapped classes.
  • JK Relays At Easter, teams of three or four runners run in one of a variety of different age categories;
  • BOC Relays At May Bank Holiday, teams of three runners run in one of a variety of different age categories;
  • Scottish Relays At Spring Bank Holiday, teams of three runners run in one of a variety of different age categories;
  • Club Championships The Club Champion each year is decided by performances at an event hosted by a local club other than NOC in December.

NOC aims to provide for its club members:

  • Sponsorship for juniors to distant events, and BOF training;
  • A weekend of technical training for all club members;
  • The Black & Green club newsletter;
  • To Stock club kit;
  • To Maintain a Web Site;
  • To provide evening training sessions on a regular basis and the occasional social event.

NOC aims to organise the following events annually:

  • One level B event, (usually Jan/Feb) named the Robin Hood Trophy
  • Four or five level C events as part of the East Midlands League
  • Two level C events as part of the East Midlands Urban League
  • Several level D events to support the orienteering opportunities throughout the year.

In addition NOC will aim to organise a level A championship event or national final every three or four years.

NOC also maps, designs and maintains a number of permanent Orienteering Courses within Nottinghamshire and aims to provides mapping and coaching courses.

Orienteering In Nottinghamshire - A History

The History of NOC (draft)

It appears that the first event in Nottinghamshire was organised by Terry Hamilton from People's College and held at Budby.
The Scandinavians originally tried to start UK orienteering in 1958 and then later in 1962 en route to the first event in Scotland, through youth groups via the County Council, but this did not succeed. One of the Scandinavians was Baron Lagerfelt. They succeeded in Scotland which is why the Scottish Orienteering Association predates the English. A second attempt was made by a group of athletes which included John Disley, Chris Brasher and then Gerry Charnley (who was to found Karrimor). Bert Bradshaw was persuaded to try orienteering by Gerry Charnley who told him of an event being held at Budby.
A second event was held at Budby which was described as the first North Midlands Championship. This was organised by John Martin who was a teacher at Greenwood School. John ran out of markers while putting out the controls, so he used a pair of red bathing trunks for the last control.
There appeared to be two groups of orienteers in Nottingham at that time, about 5 members of Nottingham Nutters, who were mostly also members of Notts Athletic Club, and about 5 Crazy Paviors, who were past and present pupils of High Pavement School. Bert Bradshaw, Tony Taylor and Keith Picksley were members of Nottingham Nutters, while Peter Kelbe (who later moved to South Wales) was a Crazy Pavior, along with Mike Wingfield and David Higgins.
In approximately 1967 a joint meeting was held at Keith Picksley's house at Ingram Road, Bulwell where it was decided to amalgamate Nottingham Nutters and Crazy Paviors to form Nottinghamshire Orienteering Club. It was not called Notts Orienteering Club so as to avoid confusion with Notts A.C.
Other early orienteers in the club were as follows:
Rich Kettlewell - a prison officer at Lowdham Grange
Dennis ? - also at Lowdham Grange
Malcolm Conway
Ken Harlow - a P.E. teacher at The Dukeries School
Andrew McKinnon - The Dukeries School
Jonathan Richardson - The Dukeries School
John Mills
Dick Shelton - partner from Harlow
John Ware - lived in Ravenshead
Early club meetings were held at the Oxford pub at Highbury Vale.
NOC organised the individual event of the JK in 1970 held at Clumber Park using one of the first colour maps. It was drawn, and also planned by Bert Bradshaw, and was attended by about 300 runners, running on 6 courses.
The relays were held at Shining Cliff on a 1:20,000 map drawn by Robin Harvey and Jenny Tennant, and planned by Keith Picksley. The event was slated by "Silas Wagg" in The Orienteer which caused a lot of ill feeling locally. The criticism was that one area was flat and the other was the opposite.
By 1972 the active club members were Bert, Keith, Dave Roberts (secretary), Ian and Sylvia Warburton, Tony Farnell, Tim and John Phillips. Ian Warburton was a maths teacher at Nottingham High School, as was Jill Hunter, who was a member of DVO. Ian and Jill encouraged a number of High School pupils to try orienteering including Mick Lucking and Michael Peat.
At the time the club had very few members, but were very competitive. Bert, Keith and Tony Farnell nearly won the British Relay Championship at Puddletown Forest. The top three teams including Tony Farnell for NOC all arrived at the last control together but Tony tripped and fell from first to third. The junior team of Mike Peat, Tom Phillips and Mick Lucking also got into the top three. Tony Farnell was the club's top athlete, and was later to be asked to run in the selection race for the British Team at the World Championships.
NOC organised the British Relays in Clipstone on a map drawn by Bert Bradshaw in 1973? where all courses started at once from a circle drawn in sawdust at a road crossing. Few people left immediately after the starting bell was rung because the courses had been hand drawn in dark purple on the map that resembled graph paper. As a result many competitors had trouble finding the start triangle.
In those days in the UK there was the JK, British, Scottish, Northern, Midland and Southern Championships and then badge events. NOC organised the Midland Championships at Annesley and Clipstone in the late 1960's and again in Annesley in 1972 on a colour map drawn by Dave Roberts which included Byron's Walk through which a road had just been built. It was one of the biggest events held in the UK at that time with nearly 800 competitors. Very few other NOC events were organised at this time although DVO were putting on an event a month in the season, and LEI held events on Saturdays also once a month.
In 1975 LEI organised a badge event at Clipstone with NOC's permission on a new map drawn by Peter Leverington. Peter was unlucky because large areas of Clipstone were blown down in the January gales before the map was used. Peter's map used "cairns" as features for control sites which were made out of Police "No Waiting" cones painted silver. More recently we have used tripods. The planners of this event were Liz and Dave Hale who lived in Cotgrave where Stephen (who is now Britain's No. 1 Orienteer) was born. The Hales were always members of WCH because of their connections with Walton High School and Peter Palmer.
NOC struggled at this time to hold a quorate AGM because at least 6 members had to be present. It was only the bribe of a dinner cooked by Enid Bradshaw that got six members together in one room.
Chris Sweetman was elected as Chairman of NOC at this stage and he endeavoured to get a number of "Come and Try It" events organised. He was helped by Len and Heather Sparrow and later by Stuart Collins who spent an enormous amount of time mapping many NOC areas. Some of these maps were produced on a duplicating machine while larger maps of Budby and Thieves were professionally printed.
Through these CATI events the club grew and more families joined the club. David Haydon became chairman of the club and his son Andrew was one of the top juniors in the country. David George was the club's equipment officer, keeping it in a garden shed at his home in Ravenshead.
Nottingham University OC was very active in the late 1970's with some of the top runners in Kevin Lomas and Simon Elliott, and a budding mapper in Alan Gould.
Chairmen of NOC in recent years:
  David Heydon (1979 - 1982)
  Peter Bourne (1982 - 1985)
  John Orton (1985 - 1988)
  Janet Evans (1988- 1989)
  Tim Hills (1989 - 1992)
  Andy Jones(1992 - 1995)
  Ray Barnes (1995 - 1998, 2004)
  Tony Donaldson (1998 - 2000)
  Helen O'Neil (2000 - 2003)
  Dave Cooke (2005 - 2007)
  Steve Green (2007-2010)
  Tony Horsewill (2010-2013)
  Andrew Breakwell (2013-)

found on the BOF Web pages ...

Possibly the first mention of the sport in Britain was an article in the Observer newspaper in 1957 by Chris Brasher, who had been gold medalist in the steeplechase in the 1956 Olympic Games. Brasher began: I have just taken part, for the first time, in one of the best sports in the world. It is hard to know what to call it. The Norwegians call it 'orientation'..... (It was, in fact, a night event.)
Brasher's article was followed by a letter from the Norwegian Embassy in London, pointing out that 'orientation' was not as completely unknown in the UK as Brasher implied: a Norwegian instructor had given a course 'in this typically Norwegian sport' at 'one of the most famous public schools in the country'. Brasher replied that several readers had writen to him to say that Orientation (or Orienteering) competions had already been held in this country, including one of 20 miles and 9000 foot of ascent in the Lake District, and a street event in Greenock, Scotland. Later in 1957 Brasher himself took part in an event organised by the Nottinghamshire Association of Boys' Clubs.
Notes taken by Mick Lucking when reminiscing with Bert Bradhaw

A History of Orienteering in Sherwood Forest

Sherwood Forest because of its close association with the legend of Robin Hood is probably the most famous tract of woodland in the world, and to this day it is visited by over 650,000 people per year. Is said to take its name from “Shire Wood” i.e. wood of the shire of Nottingham
A Brief History One of the most fascinating aspects of this unique area is its natural history. Pollen records show that there has been an unbroken cover of woodland here since the end of the last Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago.
At the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 the Shire Wood covered approximately 25% of the county measuring almost 16 x 40 Km (640 square Km). Unfortunately that is not quite as exciting as it seems, because forest did not really mean an area of continuous woodland ... merely a portion of land subject to forest law, that could include heath, pasture and even waste ground as well as trees.
As a royal hunting preserve, its heaths and thickets provided an ideal venue for the aristocratic sports of hunting and falconry. Many English kings came here to enjoy the pleasures of the chase - notably "Bad" Prince John of the Robin Hood stories, James I and his son Charles I. King Richard III was hunting in Sherwood when he received the fateful news that Henry Tudor had landed, and rode south to meet his death at the Battle of Bosworth.
Suffice to say after the dissolution of the monasteries in the XVI century much of the areas fell into the hands of the sub-aristocracy (Henry VIII sold the monastic lands for bargain basement prices, such was his need for ready cash. The real beneficiary of the Dissolution was not the king, but the new class of gentry who bought the lands.)
After the fall of Charles I, royal power over Sherwood declined, and huge swathes of former royal forest passed into the hands of private landowners. By Queen Victoria's day, much of north Nottinghamshire was owned by aristocratic landlords. Their estates were known collectively as The Dukeries - for at one time, the Dukes of Portland, Newcastle, Leeds, Norfolk and Kingston all had splendid country seats here. As the legendary home of Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest began to attract travellers, sightseers and day trippers early in the 1800s. The Major Oak in particular was a curiosity that drew many tourists, whilst early travel writers such as the American Washington Irving engaged their readers with stories of the great tree and the beauty of the forest.
Thankfully from the early 1950s land like Sherwood, Clumber park and Rufford Abbey were opened for everyone to again enjoy as areas were either sold or leased back to the public bodies.
Today the central 15 sq.Km remaining of the area to the NW of Edwinstowe (and the only part still known locally known as Sherwood) are mapped for orienteering. NOC do of course have the remaining areas in Nottinghamshire mapped for orienteering, but these are all known by other names and are in no way contiguous, however approx 4Km to the south is a large area (previously known as Clipstone Forest) which now bears the name of “Sherwood Pines Forest Park”. This is a multi-use coniferous area run by the Forestry commission and was designated such, as a deliberate ploy, to relieve the pressure of too much tourism on Sherwood by drawing away the non- Robin Hood fixated tourists.
Sherwood Forest Country Park is also a candidate to become a Special Area of Conservation under European law, in recognition of its special ecology. The site has over 600 'veteran' trees, and is particularly noted for the variety of its bird and insect species. An incredible 1500 species of beetle can be found here and 200 types of spider. Fungi also flourish on dead wood and amongst the fallen leaves. The forest attracts species of birds not often seen elsewhere in Nottinghamshire, such as Redstarts, Wood Warblers, Nightjars and Long Eared Owls.
The Major OakCredit: David Olivant
The Major Oak (formally known as The Queen Oak and before that the Cockpen Tree).
Reputed to have been used by Robin Hood and his Merry Men as a hideout although estimated to be at least 800 years old it is still too young to have been used by the outlaws. It has a 10 metre circumference and an estimated weight of 23 tons. Its principal claim to fame is that it was the site of the first orienteering control in Nottinghamshire on 31/3/1966.
Orienteers arrive in the forest
The first use of Sherwood for orienteering took place on a weekday March 31st 1966 utilising a B&W photocopy (or the 1960s equivalent) of the 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey map which fortunately was the outline edition minus the contours. As Bert Bradshaw said at the time “We had no compasses, map cases, instructions or any idea either ... but somehow we managed and afterwards I was hooked!”. Bert, now a M75, is still hooked and still orienteering, recently at WOC04 in Sweden. Long may he run!
A few years after this event a 1:20,000 two colour orienteering map was specially drawn by Jim Knight which survived with sporadic use until 1981 when it was revised by Stuart Collins and a team of 13 club members.
This map could now be divided into three distinct areas:-
  • In the NE Budby was the heathland area leased and utilised by the Army as a training ground, this comprised fast rough open covered predominantly in heather, with large copses, and a multitude of ankle twisting slit trenches and pits.
  • In the SE was the predominantly broadleaf area of the Sherwood Country Park best known for its magnificent collection of ancient oaks. Over 900 trees in the park are 600 years old or more. Some are contorted into fantastic shapes by age and weather. Due to the hollowing of their ancient trunks, others have grown "Stag Headed" - their bare top branches antlered like the deer that once roamed the Royal Hunting Forest. (it was also used by the army until the 1970’s). Due to the closeness of many of these distinct trees they were left off this part. However this is the best of the areas and consists of large areas of birch and oak woodland with good visibility and minimal undergrowth but with many indistinct clearings and a multitude old pits/gullies. Here the novice is often caught as running can often be too fast for successful navigating.
  • on the West side of the map is the coniferous area known as “The Birklands”. This is monoculture plantation at its worst with a grid like path network as found throughout much of the UK. Fortunately for orienteers this area has been not only been invaded by Rhododendrons but also contains many more of the stag headed Oaks thereby adding to its interest (*at present we are no longer able to use the Oaks as control points due to them being a valuable source of habitat for invertebrates, and to aid this, the Forestry Commission, are felling the surrounding conifers to a 25 meter radius around each ancient tree.)
In 1983 the first modern 5 colour orienteering map was produced of the area by Alan Gould. This and the earlier maps were unique for the UK, in that depicted on the Budby section by black X’s, were three military tanks, used for target practice. Prior to the first usage of this map we have evidence that these tanks had resided in the same spot for 17 years, however ... at 17:30 on the previous evening we discovered that one tank had been moved 800 meters to another track junction, fortunately not the one with the control on it ... after some consideration was given to building a paper-mache version, reality prevailed and the competitors were informed of the change in the start lanes ... with the tanks being labelled “This tank has moved” and “This tank has not moved” just in case they were confused! This was the second time the Army had sabotaged our event, the first being in May 1967 when #5 – “The Holly Bush” control accidentally coincided with a temporary latrine. You must remember that within the UK military tanks have always been confined to closely delineated and often remote areas so as a child growing up less than a mile away from the Western fringe of Sherwood Forest, finding that such things were rampaging in the woods a few miles away was a continuous source of excitement. I and my friends spent many long summer days trying to sneak onto the training ground only to be turned back by soldiers on perimeter patrol. It was only a few years later when I realised that live ammunition was often used that I began to question whether our actions were actually worth the risk ... but then all children are the same worldwide. The Army is no longer allowed to use the area presumably on the basis that it doesn’t really bear any relationship to either the Falklands or Iraq! and have since quit the area totally.
In 1992 having taken over the position of Mapping Co-ordinator it fell to me to digitise Alan’s map into OCAD 3.0 and as it was my first largish OCAD map you can imagine how long it took me (30 hours!).
Needless to say having assuring everyone that with the clubs brand new A3 tablet it was a piece of cake ... things became rather more problematic. The mapper informed me that although the scale was correct in the Y axis it most definitely was not in the X axis! After much detective work it was found that although the tablet was functioning correctly and had been set up right in OCAD the puck was malfunctioning somehow. Fortunately with some simple math and judicious stretching in OCAD everything turned out fine. Since then we have mapped another adjacent 33% to the east of Sherwood in the area vacated by the Army although to keep the map manageable at 1:15,000 we have moved the western part to another map called “Sherwood Forest West” ... What else!
Keith Streb
9 Apr 2017