Aitken Woods Night, NWNL, Dec 8 2012

Date of event: Sat 08th Dec 12
Type of event: Local (D)
Nearest town: Barley village, near Pendle Hill.


Results (including splits)
RouteGadget NW Night League Positions After 2 Rounds


Dark & light, chalk and cheese, identical yet what a difference a day makes!

At the exposed Northern Saturday night start, in the gathering wind and soaking rain, competitors were anxious to get moving.  By contrast at the Southern Sunday start, deck chairs for admiring the view and soaking up the sun were more the order of the day.  Bleak versus delightful.  And so too was the orienteering.

Aitken Wood NWOL, Night:

At the Northern start, waiting competitors saw headtorches rising and rising up the invisible steep scarp ahead.  The open moorland parts of the map looked innocuous enough but in the dark, for anyone off line, there were few features on which to relocate.  Torch beams bounced off in the misty rain and competitors ran in a bubble of reduced visibility.  Once in the sheltered forest things were easier, though mistakes were made here too, where clearings and forest blend seamlessly.  From below there was a spectacular light-show of powerful searchlight beams in the misty rain, which re-enacted the London Blitz and the stage set for the X-Factor finals.

It is clear from the results that the going was tough and minor mistakes proved costly.  Several competitors retired on Blue at the map exchange (15/109) or the following control (16/101) which proved to be the most difficult and costly if missed.  Only one competitor spiked it head on.  Other competitors retired because of the weather conditions, or fogged-up glasses making map reading detail particularly tricky, or pehaps thoughts of a warm pub and a full belly lured you away.

The winning time by James Logue EPOC of 68 minutes on Blue was very respectable in the conditions.  He also wins the run-in challenge with 19 seconds, including opening the gate.  [James was one of the victims of the map problem on Sunday - see below.]

As planner I have one apology to make.  Since all but 5 of the night controls were to be reused in the day event the kites were positioned for the day event e.g 'behind the knoll' instead of 'on top of the knoll'.  In some cases this will have led to an advantage for following competitors arriving as the competitor ahead finally nailed the control after a protracted search.  I can think of 4 controls that should have been sited more visibly.  I trust this did not detract from your overall enjoyment.

Thanks are due to our hosts at the warm and friendly Pendle Inn, who kindly reserved the snug for our computers and crazy sports men and women.  Thanks too to a small band of regular PFO helpers who manned/womaned the access and egress points - Carole, Wendy, Jim, John, Steve.

Whitehough & Aitken Level C, Day:

What a contrast.  Daylight makes all the difference and sunshine doubly so.  The forecast was for rain at noon, but it turned dull for half an hour before the warmth returned.  Perfect for our sport.  On the open moor the wind was chilly but no one seemd to care.

Winning times were much shorter than the previous night indicating quicker route choices and easier identification of features.  Leg times were more consistent.  The Blue course (similar in length and climb to the night course) was won in 53 minutes and Green in 49.

I was heartened by one seasoned competitor who commented post-event that it was 'one of the best events I've been to in 2012'.  High praise indeed.  Fair weather, fine views, variety of terrain, challenging courses, surprise sculptures, warm registration and free tea/coffee must have all played their part.  But then again our commentator was not one of the tailenders who found that we'd run out of both Blue and Green maps.

And now for our big apology:  PFO don't normally have large numbers of TD5 competitors and 20 maps for Blue and 20 for Green is usually enough.  I forgot to inform Registration of map quantities so the alarm was not raised until we began to get low at the start.  Fortunately we were at Whitehough and we were able to colour photocopy extras and send them to the start.  As planner I had some copies in my rucsack at the start but failed to notice that they were early planning copies (with 2 or 3 different control poitions) and not the final courses.  We apologise to those affected who were necessarily disqualified or marked as retired.  If you were affected and would like a free run at another PFO event (Pendle Hill coming up  3rd Feb 2013), just e-mail me and we can arrange that more easily than giving you cashback.

PFO's top juniors make up a major part of our entries, normally.  However, they had won through to the Yvette Baker final (congratulations!) and were away for the weekend.  So to get an entry of 70 odd, mostly on Blue and Green with several from clubs outside our usual NW catchment, was very heartening.  I know you were rewarded by variety of terrain and fine weather.

Our thanks are due to Mrs M Ashworth for permission to link Aitken to Whitehough across her sheep field, to Whitehough Outdoor Education Centre for the loan of Room 1 (surely one of the best Registration/Assembly areas you've been to) and to United Utilities and their tenant farmers for permission to use the forest and adjacent moorland.  As always thanks to PFO helpers Carole, Gillian, Helen, Wendy, Bill, Jim. Kevin, Mike and everyone else who helped put on the show.

2013 Double Header - NWOL Night & Level C Day:  Already fixed for Dean Clough near Great Harwood (Blackburn) for 7th and 8th December 2013.  Be there!

Posted 10/12/2012 by GM Crawford-Smith - Planner for both night and day events.



This is the second event in the 2012-2013 North West Night League series.
We regret that permission for orienteering at Wycoller has been withdrawn ......

 ..... therefore, the event has been moved to Aitken Woods near Barley at the foot of Pendle Hill.

FORECAST & ROAD CONDITIONS:  As at 10:00 Saturday morning. - Getting warmer this evening with winds around 15MPH, also some light rain.  Road conditions getting to Barley will be OK as the roads are well gritted.  If in any doubt, best approach is via A59-Gisburn or M65-Barrowford then to Blacko > Roughlee > Barley.  The hills are less steep on this approach.

Downloadable event flier for both Night & Day events - see below ....

The competition area includes the woods and adjacent moorland to east and west.  The area straddles a ridge with a variety of terrain types to north and south, mostly runnable but with some complex areas to the north.  One unusual feature of the wood is the Sculpture Trail which will provide some novel landmarks to navigate by.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  PLEASE PROVIDE YOUR BOF NUMBER TO REGISTRATION. This will ensure your details are correctly shown on the BOF results website.

events location


Nearest town: Barley village, near Pendle Hill.
Grid Ref: SD822403
Postcode: BB12 9JX
Latitude: 53.85876
Longitude: -2.27049
Google Map (aerial) - Bing Map (OS)


Planner: George Crawford-Smith, PFO
Organiser: Wendy Crawford-Smith, PFO
Controller: Jim Mitchell, PFO.
Contact: T: 01282 812075. E:

Info for dog owners

This is farmland.  NO DOGS.


None!  Other than those provided by the Pendle Inn.  No muddy shoes inside the pub please.
Please support the Pendle Inn for post event recuperation, discussion and snacks/meals.

Downloadable Documents

Flier for both Night & Day, Aitken & Whitehough,

About the area/map

Whitehough OEC & Aitken Wood

Whitehough Outdoor Education Centre, Aitken Wood and adjacent moorland.

Whitehough OEC is a mix of buildings, managed grounds, play and exercise equipment, plus rough reedy open ground and young plantations.

On the south slope Aitken Wood is mature mostly runnable coniferous woodland with thickets and complex semi-open areas.  On the north slope younger plantation is sparse in places and dense in others.

The moorland to the west and east of the woods crowns the ridge.  There are water courses, marshes, ditches, old walls, pits and evidence of some minor mineral extraction. 

Read more about the Whitehough OEC & Aitken Wood area and map


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Posted by George Crawford-Smith