Where can I try orienteering?

You can try orienteering at one of many races run all across the UK throughout the year. You can also try orienteering at permanent courses you can visit at any time. Links for finding races and permanent courses are included below.

To find permanent courses in the UK:

Visit Go Orienteering

If you live outside the UK search for the Orienteering Association for your country and look for their fixtures, or events list. Some of these are linked lower down this page.

What you need to know before trying a permanent orienteering course

This is video shows what you need to know to try out a permanent orienteering course near you.

The next 4 videos from MDOC show how your skills can progress in the early stages of getting into orienteering

The first is Getting Started

The other 3 videos show how you can build up your basic orienteering skills. They are linked on the Beginner page of Better Orienteering:

Getting Going

Getting Confident

Getting Faster

Don’t forget to look through the Beginner section of Better Orienteering for more tips and videos on how to orienteer.

The websites below will help you find orienteering competitions, training events and permanent courses near you to try:

To find races in the UK:

British Orienteering events list


Ollie O’Brien’s easy to search map of upcoming events


Some more help for your first orienteering event

These videos from Orienteering Australia step you through what is involved in turning up to an orienteering event and having a go. The principles are the same world-wide. Some minor differences can exist such as the colours used for different levels of difficulty for courses in different countries, but these are always explained at registration to help you choose the right course.

Orienteering Australia also has a helpful set of FAQs for beginners

What is orienteering?
How does it work?
How much do I need to know?
What is an SI stick?
Do I have to run?
How long will the course take me?
What course should I choose?
What should I wear?
What equipment do I need?
Can I do it in a group or team?
Can I bring my dog?
Can I follow other people?
What do I do if I get lost?
What do I do if get injured on the course?
What happens at course closure time?
What if I don’t finish my course?
How much does it cost?
Do I need to join a club or Orienteering ACT?

Orienteering Australia FAQs

Other places to locate permanent orienteering courses in the UK

Forestry England Permanent Orienteering Courses

Forestry England has teamed up with orienteering clubs to create quality permanent courses at a dozen locations across the UK. They are also included in the complete list of permanent courses above on British Orienteering website, but the Forestry England ones have the advantage of normally starting at a visitor centre, most of which have toilets, a cafe and other activities to try as well.

Forestry England Orienteering

The control markers are always out in the forest. You can find out about them and where to buy a map from, usually a visitor centre, on their Orienteering page linked below. If a course is closed due to forestry works for example, then the place that you can buy maps will have up to date details.

When visiting an permanent orienteering course it is important to remember that whilst local orienteering clubs do their best to ensure that all the marker posts are in place, they can go missing. Forest activities such as felling trees and moving timber can change the map too. Check the Forestry England website and the visitor centre for up to date information on whether a course is open.

You can download to a smartphone the Tips under the Beginner section of Better Orienteering, to refer to when you try a permanent course.

Photo: Steve Rush BOK
Competitors only wear numbers at the bigger races

An example of a permanent orienteering course

An example of part of one of the maps from a permanent course at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire is shown below. It is a Light Green course which is aimed at runners with some navigation experience. There are also shorter simpler courses on Cannock Chase for absolute beginners having their first go at orienteering. See the Forestry England Orienteering page for more details.

An extract from Fairoak permanent course on Cannock Chase, Staffordshire

The full map and details can be found at the Forestry Commission Orienteering web page.

Cannock Chase

Natural Resources Wales Permanent Orienteering Courses

NRW orienteering

Forestry and Land Scotland permanent orienteering courses

Forestry and Land Scotland permanent courses

Find an orienteering club near you (UK)

Connecting with a local orienteering club is the best way to get started and find out more

Orienteering in countries other than the UK

Ireland http://www.orienteering.ie/

Canada http://www.orienteering.ca/

USA https://www.orienteeringusa.org/

Australia https://orienteering.asn.au/

New Zealand https://www.orienteering.org.nz/

Sweden http://www.svenskorientering.se/InEnglish

Finland https://www.suunnistusliitto.fi/the-finnish-orienteering-federation/