EAJS weekend in the Lake District
28th-30th October 2005

Twelve juniors and six coaches/helpers set off for the Lake District on Friday morning, as it was half term, allowing us to not arrive late at night as usual. After we picked up the last of the squaddies at Cambridge we continued our journey northwards. We diverted through Nottingham to pick up Eleanor, one of our coaches, and eventually arrived at Coniston Holly How youth hostel at six o'clock after a lot of traffic problems.

Holly How youth hostel is a large house with group rooms, a games room and giant jenga which the juniors took great advantage of. In the evening after a filling meal Eleanor set us some games to help everyone to get to know each other better. For the first game the name of a famous person was stuck on our backs and we had to work out who it was by asking the others questions to which the responses could only be yes or no. For the second game we all sat in a circle and took it in turns to roll a dice. When a 6 was rolled the player needed to put on gloves, a hat and a scarf before attempting to eat chocolate with a knife and fork. I am sad to say that I only got to put on the gloves before someone else rolled a six and so I didn't get to eat any chocolate. Sophie however did extremely well and must have eaten nearly half the bar!

The Saturday training was very close to the youth hostel - only a ten minute drive. The map was covered in contours and runnable woodland, which is very different from Essex. The only problem, however, was that, due to a severe storm, many trees had fallen over, thus causing it to become a scramble at several points of the training.

We walked to the start about 1.5km away to meet the Yorkshire squad who, knowing the area, had planned the exercises. The map itself was 1:10,000 but they blew it up to 1:5000 to enable us to read the contours more easily. For the younger juniors this helped a lot. I also found this helped as in the morning session we were working on a relatively small part of the map and it allowed me to break down the legs into to easier chunks.

The morning exercises that had been planned were long legs and a control pick. The younger juniors chose the control pick. This involves every control being the attack point for the next control. The long leg exercise, mainly for the older and more experienced members of the squad left us to individually choose and plan the route. I broke down each leg, simplifying it. However, as I began the leg, I changed my route due to the amount of fallen tree slowing down my progress. I chose the long leg exercise to help me practise simplifying legs I find on courses so that they don't seem as complicated as they really are.

Before moving on to the afternoon exercises we replenished our energy sources by eating our packed lunches. The afternoon session was in the south part of the map on the other side of the deep quarry by the car park. Again the Yorkshire squad had planned two different exercises - a bearing exercise and a short course. The bearing exercise helped the younger juniors to practise taking a bearing, looking for a prominent point in the distance, running to it and then repeating the procedure if necessary. The short course was used to practise newly learned techniques or to practise any other techniques we wanted to try. I chose the bearing exercise as I have become a little concerned about my bearings accuracy.

Back at the youth hostel we had a nice hot shower, and were filled once more with deliciously cooked food. Many of the juniors played jenga or cards in the evening before getting what seems an extremely early night, due to putting our clocks back, before we went to bed.

On Sunday we left the youth hostel early, for the Regional event at Lingmoor, because of the long walk to the start. Anyone over the age of 15 had a 50 minute walk to the start, while the younger juniors only had a 25 minute walk. It was a terribly steep walk to the start with the heavy rain not helping at all.

The terrain was open moor land located on one huge hill with very close contours, crags and runable woodland in the lower slopes. My course was 5.3km with 295m of climb started three quarters of the way up the hill and took me towards the summit within the first 4 controls. As I got there I was in the clouds. It was amazing although extremely strange as visibility had become even poorer and the wind was so harsh I got blown over several times. The poor visibility led me to take fewer chances and to use catching features. Half way through my course we were led back over the top of the hill and it was downhill from there to the finish (placed on a large knoll).

Although physically challenging, due to the terrain and weather, I felt a great sense of achievement when I finished and I hope every junior felt it.

The success of the whole weekend owes thanks to all the adults who cooked, drove and looked after us. Thank you very much to them as without them the juniors would not be able to have these chances to train, improve their orienteering ability and have fun.

I understand that we squaddies need to keep the 10 and the 11th of December free for Eleanor's training in Nottingham followed by the Blackamoor Regional event. This will be my very last training with the squad as I'm getting old, and may I say I have thoroughly enjoyed my time within the squad.

Emma Johnson (SOS)

Site maintained by Helen Nisbet on behalf of EAOA. Page last updated on 3rd April 2014 at 2:53pm