Orienteering at Badbury

We have expanded our outdoor activities offer by including a new orienteering trail at Badbury. Orienteering is a great way to get some fresh air and is very family friendly. All you need for our trails is a route map and off you go. You can find out more about the trails below. Orienteering at Badbury can take place on your own or with support from our trained staff member leading to run your orienteering experience.


These notes are intended to help teachers and youth leaders make the best use of the permanent orienteering facilities at Badbury. The aim is that your group has an enjoyable outdoor session with the opportunity of learning new skills. Orienteering can contribute to the school curriculum as an adventurous outdoor activity and has many cross- curricular links with other subjects. Orienteering and navigation feature in schemes for youth groups (scouts, guides etc.) and orienteering skills contribute to successful completion of the expeditions which are part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

However if you would like to run the exercise independently please read these instructions carefully and email liza.dibble@nationaltrust.org.uk  to make a booking, confirm conditions of use and receive the course maps and descriptions.

Getting started

To get started below you will find the following:

• Information for school, youth groups and families and booking form Badbury orienteering booking form (PDF / 0.1826171875MB) download

Badbury orienteering terms and conditions (PDF / 0.3828125MB) download

Badbury sample map (PDF / 0.5263671875MB) download

• Suggestions for assessing risks – group leaders must make their own risk assessments, these notes should help.  Badbury orienteering blank risk assessment (PDF / 0.23828125MB) download

On booking you will receive:

• A course description

• Orienteering course map 

On the day you will need:

• Course description and map

• A compass

• A pencil

• Appropriate clothing

• Whistle/claxon 

Who can use the Courses?

Anyone of any age can have fun following one or more of the courses in Badbury Woods. Students in Year 5 and above will be able to learn orienteering skills especially if they have done some map and orienteering activities at school and in the school grounds beforehand. Those with limited mobility may be able to try course A (Please ask for advice if needed)

Preparation in Advance

Advance preparation will help your group know what to expect, save time on the day and make them better placed to develop and practice some new skills. Here are some suggestions:

• Using the sample map. What does the map represent? Understand the symbols. What does a grey shape represent? How is a bush or an individual tree shown?

• Pick two points on the map. How would you get from one to the other? What would you pass on the way? Use a piece of string and the scale bar on the map to find out how long the journey is. Are there ther routes that could have been taken? Are they longer or shorter?

• Brief the group on what an orienteering post looks like and look at some of the courses

• Many schools have orienteering maps of their school grounds which can then be used for safe on-site activities for students in all years. Please ask for advice on how to get your school mapped.

• Decide which course or courses your group will do. Decide how the activity will be observed, monitored or marshalled. Note where the “escape points” are and monitor these as appropriate. Escape points are routes leading out of the woods or into another part of the woods away from the courses

On your visit

• Ideally participants should be in pairs and take it in turns navigating to the next checkpoint so that both are reading the map and making decisions. In larger groups there is less opportunity to learn and some will just rely on others to navigate. Allow a minute between groups, you can alternate between clockwise and anticlockwise directions

• Course A is short, (approx. 45 mins) easy to monitor and is based on the pink walk. It gives everyone an idea of how to use the map and what to look for. 

Monitoring and marshalling

• For younger participants, place marshals where they can keep an eye on escape points. Don’t stand next to or very close a checkpoint and give it away!

• Participants who may find it particularly difficult can be “shadowed” i.e. the teacher/leader follows the pair at a discrete distance and can intervene to resolve difficulties.

• The steps that help are often (a) please orient your map to match the ground (b) point on the map to where we are now (c) where are you going next? (d) Show me on the map how you will get there (e) now point (physically) which way you are going to go.

The main skills

• Participants should always orient their map to match the ground. This is the most important skill of orienteering. A compass is useful here to ensure the top of the map is always pointed to the north.

If you are travelling along a path then that path on the map should be aligned with the path on the ground so that your direction of travel is shown in front of you. Align exactly as a SAT NAV display would be. If you are travelling south on a path the map will be “upside down” If your map is correctly oriented, you can always see where you should go next

• The other skills that can be gained are recognising the map symbols, estimating distances and using the map to make decisions.

The courses 

There will be 3 orienteering courses to follow. At the moment we have one up and running and ready to go: 

Course A: Yellow – easy to follow 9 control points on or to the edge of tracks. Start and finish are through the small gate from the car park

Safety Points and Rules

• Please be careful in the car park, the courses do not start or pass through here

• Do not approach dogs, this is an open wood and there may be other people walking dogs, please respect our other visitors 

• Some areas of the woods are used by cyclists, we have set the courses away from their main jump area

• If you are here in the Spring enjoy the bluebells but please do not walk amongst them, it will damage them for next year

• This is a team activity, everyone must take a turn with the map and you must stay together

More Orienteering

Group members, teachers, leaders and families are all welcome to any NWO orienteering events and activities which cater for juniors, beginners and those more experienced. Details are on the website www.northwilts.org.uk .

Schools are encouraged to enter an orienteering team in the Wiltshire School Games. There are competitions in Swindon, Chippenham, Devizes and venues in South Wiltshire

Further information

Please report any problems with the permanent courses to liza.dibble@nationaltrust.org.uk 

Please note car parking charges apply. National Trust members may scan their cards for free parking.