Tockholes Colour Coded (Level C), Dec 3 2017

Beech woodland., GCS

Date of event: Sun 03rd Dec 17
Type of event: District (C)
Nearest town: Tockholes, Blackburn


Simple Results
RouteGadget Winsplits

Planner's Comments:

As a relatively inexperienced planner I made a conscious effort to stick to the BOF planning guidelines to produce courses within the parameters that competitors expect.  This did create a tension between delivering good value and course length ratio times.  Hopefully the courses were a good balance of technicality, interest and route choice, which made your trip worthwhile. 

Feedback at the finish was very positive and a large contributor to this was undoubtedly the quality of the area despite heavy going in places.  Of particular concern in the planning was how to create variety and interest in the legs when there is a good network of paths, and this resulted in some legs which crossed the main river.  It was therefore necessary to consider the implications arising from different river conditions and how we could cater for such.  Our solution was flexible enough to allow us to keep the courses the same whatever the conditions.  A surprise when putting out controls was that, now that the leaves have fallen, many were more visible than I envisaged.  Hopefully this didn’t matter for the most part as Tockholes is the sort of place one can easily mess up through a lapse in concentration.  Comparing actual wining times against targets Brown was pretty much spot on but other course times were longer than expected.  Intriguing, but probably due to soft-going underfoot.

The best way to get better at planning is to plan,  so I’m indebted to PFO for the opportunity.  Thanks to Chris Goddard for largely fitting his night courses around mine and doing a great job of ensuring the folks who did both events didn’t encounter any repeted legs, and thanks also to George and Tom for help and advice.  I’m grateful to all the competitors who took time to share their thoughts post event.  I’ve learnt a lot.

Peter Stobbs - Day Planner.


Organiser's Comments:    (Lost property - see below.)

Thank you for coming and swelling the numbers, but we were thereby embarrassed by oversubsciption on the courses and oversubsciption of our parking arrangements!

We were taken aback by the turnout!  Several factors seemed to contribute to this:  that morning everywhere (except foggy Tockholes) was in bright sunshine encouraging an energetic day out; the Cumbrian Galoppen, which was cancelled the previous week due to floods, occasioned a number of budding NWJS members to use this event to gain extra ranking results; travel is easy being just 5 miles off the M65; and, not least, Tockholes has a great reputation for fast technical navigation.

The Gallopen cancelling floods also hit Tockholes, closing roads and causing damage here and there.  That's when we committed to the rope-protected river crossing point.  Once on the map we had to construct it.  I believe it was well used (did anyone get a photo?).  High rainfall also brought chaos to our parking arrangements, with chevron parking a few feet off the farm track being the solution.  Normally we can park anywhere, with enough space for 1000 cars.  Many thought they'd never get out again, but with a little help from others, everyone (except the CompassPoint van) got away without needing a tow.  The high numbers also lead to overspill parking on the road verges, not something we had planned for.  Despite the unbelievers it worked out OK.  Thanks for your patience.

Another casualty was our planned crossfield walk to the Start.  The second field beyond the trees was wetter than the mapped marshes in the forest.  No one would have got to the Start with dry feet had we gone that way.  The road option was the result and, as it turned out, quite satisfactory.

Now to the maps:  We estimated, including a block of 30 or so pre-entered juniors, 120 to 140 competitors, and then overprinted by 20%, equalling 170 maps.  We had a map countback list per course, but I neglected to strike off the block entry numbers who would not be visiting Registration.  Thus maps were being sold twice, unknown to either the Registration or the Start teams, causing an acute map shortage for late arrivals.  To anyone who ran up or down a course or who had to wait for recycled maps, we (well actually, I) apologise for both the oversight and for underestimating our total needs.  In fact we printed 170 maps and had 170 competitive runs, just not necessarily on the course of your choice or with a clean map!

You can e-mail me for a refund if you feel agrieved by our miscalculation, or if you'd like a copy of your course map we prised off you.

You can also e-mail me for the return of 2 pairs of gloves and a headtorch, all found within a couple of strides of each other on the main farm track just below Registration.  Presumably all one owner and all falling from one car door or boot or roof on exit.  Give a brief description and I'll mail them to you.

Our thanks and our apologies in equal measure.  I'll leave others to comment on the courses, which by all accounts were well received.  I am now looking forward to seeing your route choices on Routegadget.

Special thanks are due to:

  • United Utilities for permission to use Tockholes Woods for both our Night & Day events.
  • John Smith of New Barn Farm for use of his (usually dry and firm) fields.
  • PFO members (most of whom didn't get a run):  Parking - Debbie, Gary, John;  Registration/download - Hamish, Carole, Wendy, Alice;  Direction marshaling - Kevin & Helen; Start - Jim, Bridget, Helen, Mike;  Planning - Peter Stobbs; Controlling - Tom Gray.
  • Control collectores - Peter, Chris, Steve, Cath, Bridget, Kevin, Gary 

George Crawford-Smith - Organiser.


Pre-event info below here:

High quality woodland that has been used for orienteering on-and-off for more than 50 years.  The forest is part deciduous and part coniferous and is largely runnable throughout.  Some small areas of the forest have been felled and part-planted to produce semi-open wildlife areas.

Map 1:10000, remapped this year including the use of Lidar data and updated to ISOM2017 standard.  Small and/or insignificant features have been removed from the map, e.g. small cairns and numerous rootstocks less than 3m high.  There are some very high crags (10m+) and some high and steep earth banks that would be dangerous to cross, both of which are highlighted with the uncrossable boundary symbol along their top edge.

STOP PRESS:  Rick and Angela Houghton will be in attendance with the Compass Point Chritmas van.  Lots of O-present ideas to choose from.

Historical note (reproduced from 2015):

I was chatting to John Smith, the farmer tedding his hay below the car park, who kindly allowed us to his cow pasture for parking, when he dropped the question "It must be 50 years now?"
From squinting in the sunshine, my eyes suddenly widened.  It is indeed 50 years since SROC and PFO were founded.  He went on "I remember Gerry Charnley coming to the farm in 1964 to obtain permission."  John was a young man then, working with his father, much as son Joe was doing today.  John described how Gerry arrived with several Norwegians who showed him how to set up kites for orienteering. Not, it seems, in Tockholes plantation but in the small woods behind the farm, that run out of sight behind the hill.

To add to this we believe that Gerry Charnley built a cairn in Tockholes in what was otherwise a featurless part of the forest.  This is the Gerry Charnley memorial cairn.  Spare a moment to give thanks to the man who in the '60s kick started both mountain marathons and orienteering around the north west and beyond.

events location


Nearest town: Tockholes, Blackburn
Grid Ref: SD665213
Postcode: BB3 0PE
Latitude: 53.68292
Longitude: -2.50352
Google Map (aerial) - Bing Map (OS)


Planner: Peter Stobbs PFO
Organiser: George Crawford-Smith PFO
Controller: Tom Gray PFO
Contact: For general enquiries -

Info for dog owners

No dogs on courses, and must be kept on leads at parking as there will be livestock around.  After your run you may walk your dog in the competition forest.
Please observe usual dog etiquette.


At Assembly/Registration:
- Portaloo toilets
Nearby (1km walk or drive from parking)
- public toilets
- Vaughn’s Country Cafe (Open 10:30 to 16:00ish)
- Royal Arms public house.  Open 12:00 till late, food available,

Image Gallery

Click the image for a larger version.

Beech woodland., GCS

Beech woodland.

Streams, GCS


Bluebell clearing,

Bluebell clearing

Tockholes - clearing.,

About the area/map


Tockholes was voted best area in Lancashire in the recent best 100 areas in the UK listing.  

95% of the competition area is woodland covering the catchment for Rodlesworth Reservoirs.  A wide stream bisects the area with many tributaries and deep valleys on the steeper slopes.  The area is mostly mature deciduous woodland including beech, almost all of which is fast runnable terrain with minor undergrowth.  There are also areas of coniferous plantation which are slower but passable.  Some open areas and semi-open areas have seasonal growth making them slower.  Old quarry workings give intricate contour detail and ruins.  Rock features include some 10m high crags!

The whole area gives some of the best traditional orienteering in Lancashire.  Fast, runnable and intricate.

The area is open to the public and you may encounter walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders.  Please be considerate.

Tockholes was used in October 2012 for the Lancashire HotPot weekend incorporating the UK Relay Finals and Middle Distance event.

Preparatory work began in 2017 for forestry operations that will take place in 2018.  The extent of felling is not yet known but we believe it will not exceed 10% of the area and will be retricted to the northern half.  PFO will progressively update the map as work proceeds.

Read more about the Tockholes area and map


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Posted by Steve Wilson