Orienteering in Dorset

Small group of three adults walking through wooded countryside. The image is framed by distance, with the coastline in the far distance.

Explore the National Trust’s coast and countryside places in North & West Dorset and get active outdoors with our orienteering trails.

GPS orienteering courses

Two women striding briskly along a muddy footpath through wooded countryside

What?

Test your map reading and navigation skills and head out on one of our brand-new GPS orienteering trails – a fun way to explore the outdoors and get out in the fresh air. With trails ranging from beginner to experienced, this is an activity that all ages can enjoy. The routes can be used at a nice leisurely pace or you can get competitive and race against a friend. All you need to take part is the UsynligO app and a mobile phone.

Elevated view over the coast and countryside at Golden Cap Estate

Where?

Orienteering is a great way to explore our coast and countryside places in North and West Dorset. There are a range of routes to choose from, including short ones for beginners at Burton Bradstock to longer, more tricky courses at Golden Cap. Find out more and choose your route on the UsynligO app.

Mature couple using a smartphone

How?

To take part in our GPS orienteering courses simply download UsynligO app from your app store. UsynligO is free and easy to download and will automatically connect you to some fantastic, free, orienteering routes. Once you have started your GPS route your phone will ring and vibrate when you cross a checkpoint – you’ll also get a fun fanfare when you reach the end!

Fixed orienteering courses

Family striding through a grassy field in summer

What?

We're delighted to offer two fixed orienteering courses at Stonebarrow on the Golden Cap Estate. The courses are suitable for all ages and were created by the National Trust and Wimborne Orienteers. it's a great way to explore the outdoors and have fun with the family. You can also tick off a 50 things to do before you're 11 ¾ challenge. All you need to find your way is an orienteering map and a compass.

A footpath at Stonebarrow on the Golden Cap Estate

Where?

There are two routes to choose from – the Wildflower Trail (1.1 miles/1.8km with 10 control markers) or the Score Course (20 control markers). Both courses are located at Stonebarrow on the Golden Cap estate.

Close up image of two people studying an orienteering map

How?

Pick a course and find your way using one of the maps which you can download below and take with you. Each route has a series of red-and-white metal markers fixed to wooden structures, such as gates and posts, on the slopes of Stonebarrow Hill and the fields to the south. Each marker has a unique two-letter code - when you find it, record the code in the answer grid on your map. You can check your codes by downloading the answers sheet below.

Download the maps and anwer sheet

Understanding the maps

Courses are reversible and can be shortened, as you'll see from the maps. The start and finish, shown by a red triangle, is outside the National Trust Shop. Controls are shown by red circles. Red lines show the shortest route between controls, but finding a good route is your task.

Safety matters

  • If you get lost, head north (uphill) to the road.
  • Dense vegetation (dark green) is a variable mixture of gorse, bramble, thorn and bracken.
  • Rough open areas are generally crossable though some parts are covered by heavy bracken in summer.
  • Keep clear of the cliff edges

Family orienteering trails

Large family group walking along a footpath

What?

In addition to our GPS and fixed orienteering courses which are an activity that all ages can enjoy, we also have two orienteering trails designed specifically for younger visitors. These starter routes can help get you into orienteering and provide a fun family day out – you can also reward yourself with a certificate at the end!

Family group in the countryside

Where?

There are two trails located at Stonebarrow Hill and Langdon Hill on the Golden Cap Estate. Beginners can have a go at the Waxcap Trail at Stonebarrow and discover Waxcap fungi around the site of a Bronze age burial mound and former MOD radar station. When you’re ready for your next challenge, you can try the trickier Dormouse trail at Langdon Hill where you can look out for dormice as you explore the woodland with views to Golden Cap; the highest point on the South Coast.

Two girls leaning on a gate looking at a map

How?

There’s No need for a compass, just download one or both of the trail maps below and, using the orienteering markers on the ground, you can navigate around Golden Cap’s woodland, coast and countryside.