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British Orienteering celebrates 50 years!

Thursday 22nd June 2017

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of the British Orienteering Federation. Saturday 17 June this year marked exactly 50 years since the British Orienteering Federation came into being.  The inaugural meeting was held at 7.30 p.m. on 17 June 1967 in Barnard Castle, and the first British Orienteering Championships were held in Hamsterley Forest, Co. Durham the following day. 

British Orienteering is 50 years old!  A programme of celebration activities is taking place to celebrate this special Golden Jubilee milestone.  There has been a special Golden Jubilee anniversary edition of Focus membership magazine which marks the occasion and progression of the sport over the 50 years.  We have already enjoyed a celebratory cake and a display for members at the Annual General Meeting on 14 April at Brunel University in Uxbridge, London.  We were delighted to welcome Mike Bushell Sports Presenter at BBC One Breakfast last week to a South East Lancashire Orienteering Club event at Media City, Salford, Manchester.  Did you catch Mike Bushell Sports Presenter on BBC One Breakfast on Saturday morning? We have also produced a British Orienteering short film which shows how orienteering has grown and developed over the 50 years. 

Mike Hamilton, Chief Executive of British Orienteering, says: 

“2017 is the 50th Anniversary of the creation of British Orienteering and whilst we have few resources to ‘splash out’ on the celebrations we hope that all involved in orienteering in whatever capacity will be able to celebrate this achievement in some small ways – well done British Orienteering, you are now officially 50!”

The word “orienteering” – you think about running in the countryside probably lost with a compass and a map.  Orienteering is not just for the super active or elite athletes. The whole family can take part.  Orienteering is all about navigating the fastest way around a set course, which often involves running straight through the trees, climbing hills and crossing diches. It’s a great sport as courses are set in beautiful countryside, and there are always lots of people running about.   

With the 50 year celebrations underway it is certainly a good time to take a closer look at the sport of orienteering.  Most orienteering takes place in forests or moorland often in stunning scenery.  However there are now several city-based orienteering courses too.  There are many permanent orienteering courses installed around the country.  These are listed online at – just click on ‘Go Orienteering’ for the details. 

Xplorer funded by Sport England offers families in England with the opportunity to explore local parks in their communities.  Xplorer is a family friendly navigation challenge that is educational and fun and gives children a sense of adventure as they explore the park to find the markers. It involves a healthy mix of physical activity and decision making that the whole family can enjoy together. At each marker children need to identify what is pictured and enjoy learning a fun fact to tell their friends.  

Celebrating the past, the present and the future of British Orienteering and the sport of orienteering.  Let’s celebrate the last 50 years – and look forward to the next 50 years!

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