Edinburgh Southern Orienteering Club


Blackford Hill and The Hermitage

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ESOC Local Event

Sat 20th May 2023

Info updated: 24th May
Type of event: Local
Type of terrain: Parkland, Woodland


Results are here

Winsplits are here

Planner's and Controller's post event comments have been added, click 'Read more.....' to find them.

General Information


PLANNER, Alistair Black writes:
As a first time planner it was really nice to finally make it to the big day and see that everybody was enjoying the courses. There was a great number of young orienteers putting in impressive performances on their courses. Even though it's a much used area those on the longer courses still got to see some new control sites, even if they did involve a few more hills than some might have liked!

Thanks to Crawford for his help and advice on the planning, and everyone who helped make it happen.

CONTROLLER'S COMMENTS from Crawford Lindsay: Alistair, a first-time planner, needed only a little help from me and produced good courses that made best use of the area, giving some interesting route choices. And he was ready well before the event, avoiding last minute panic. So how did it go? The weather was great, the putting out of controls went smoothly, the tent and computing were set up and we were ready to have first starts before 13:00. From the feedback I received, the courses were enjoyed and provided a challenge for all.



ADDED VALUE - There's plenty of added value to this event. First of all you'll be part of World Orienteering Day, secondly you'll have more opportunities than usual to get to know other ESOC members.

WORLD ORIENTEERING DAY - Although this started off as a single day in May each year it is now held over the course of a week and in 2023 will be from 17th to 23rd May. During this week orienteering is promoted throughout the world with the aim of having as many people as possible orienteering at roughly the same time.  ESOC has registered the event at Blackford Hill to be part of this initiative.  Statistics are collected and much is made of the total number of people that orienteering reaches in all parts of the world over the course of a single week.  As a competitor you will be part of this worldwide initiative.  If you want to know more about World Orienteering Day why not visit the website here

GETTING TO KNOW OTHER ESOC MEMBERS - Everyone is always very welcome at all ESOC's events but for this event at Blackford Hill we are hoping to encourage plenty of our newest members to come along to meet up with, chat to and compare notes with other Club members who might be a bit more experienced or may even have been orienteering for many years.  ESOC's membership is very wide ranging and swapping stories with other members is a great way to get to know more people and maybe get some tips about orienteering.  

Location (general): Blackford Hill is near the centre of the city of Edinburgh but still offers great orienteering.  

Terrain:  Mixture of open hillside, an old golf course and some wooded areas. There is a good track network but there are also steep slopes, crags, streams and a reasonably sized river which must only be crossed by the bridges.

Dress: Please check the weather forecast on the day and dress appropriately.  This event is in the city but it can still be cool and windy on the top of the hill even on the sunniest of late spring days.  NOTE: Some courses for the more experienced orienteers involve going off-track, and there could well be nettles and other vegetation nasties like brambles. We therefore suggest competitors on any course beyond the white and yellow courses wear full leg cover - even if the sun is shining.

Map: The map will be printed on waterproof paper, the control descriptions will be printed on the map (no loose control descriptions) and the map scale will likely be 1:5000.

Other Users: Blackford Hill and The Hermitage is very well used by the general public, including dog walkers, runners, families out for a picnic and even bikers.  Please respect their right to be there at the same time as you are orienteering. 

Dogs: Dogs are allowed but should be kept under very close control at all times.

Course Closure Time: Please note that courses have a closure time of 4.00pm after which controls will start to be brought in. All competitors should be back at Download by 4pm.

Covid: Please don’t come to the event if you have Covid or symptoms of Covid or are unwell. Please respect other people’s space. You can read the British Orienteering Code of Conduct here

Medical Conditions: If you, or anyone in your group (including juniors), have a medical condition that first aiders or health professionals should know about in the event of accident or illness during the course of the event please print off the Medical Form, fully complete it, bring it to the event in a sealed envelope with your name on the front and leave at Registration.   You are welcome to collect it after your run but if you don't, it will be destroyed immediately after the event.

First Aid: We encourage you to bring your own first aid kit and administer as necessary.  A basic first aid kit will be available at Registration/Download. 

The main hospital for A&E services in Edinburgh is:

Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
51 Little France Crescent
Old Dalkeith Road
EH16 4SA
Telephone: 0131 536 1000


map location

Nearest town: City of Edinburgh


The event is based in the Observatory car park.  The Google-map shows the route  up Observatory Road, off West Mains Road.

Please come by public transport or bike if you possibly can.  Blackford Hill (Royal Observatory end) is easily reached by Lothian Buses, services 41 and 38 go nearest but please check services before setting off.

There is a Beyoncé concert at Murrayfield on Saturday and road closures for this could affect some people travelling across the city from the West.  The A8 (the Glasgow road) will be closed between Haymarket and Western Corner from noon onwards. Haymarket Terrace is closed anyway at the moment but adds to the temporary traffic issues.  There is an official Council map of roads affected by road closures for the concert here.
With a football match at Tynecastle too, it would be best to avoid this whole area if at all possible. If this affects you please check your route before starting your journey.

Registration & Start Times

REGISTRATION:  Registration and Download will be in a tent close to the main entrance gate to the Observatory. Registration will be open from approximately 1pm to 2.15pm for very limited Entry on the Day (EOD) but only if maps are still available.  See also section on Entry Details below – payment for EOD will be in cash only or by bank transfer.  Please have the correct money if at all possible.

WHITE and YELLOW COURSE MAPS: Please collect these from Registration before going to the Start.  Course maps for other courses are collected after punching the start.

STARTS: From 1.00pm to 2.30pm with course closure at 4pm. You should be back at Download by 4pm as controls will start to be brought in by 4pm so if you think you'll take a long time to complete your course please enter early so you can choose an early start time.

Course Information

As usual for ESOC local events there will be White, Yellow and Orange courses for beginners and improvers.  There will also be Green and Blue courses for experienced orienteers. There will also be a Red course, at the same technical difficulty as Orange but over a longer distance.

Provisional course details (these are unlikely to change significantly:
White - 1.1km, 50m climb
Yellow - 2.0km, 120m climb
Orange - 2.4km, 140m climb
Red - 4.1km, 210m climb
Green - 3.3km, 220m climb
Blue - 4.8km, 300m climb

Explanation of colour courses

  • White are very easy with all controls on paths. They are mainly used by 6-10 year olds and family groups.
  • Yellow use simple linear features like paths, walls and streams. They are mainly used by under 12’s and family groups.
  • Orange progress to basic use of the compass and route choice. They are ideal for novice adults or experienced youngsters.
  • Light Green are ideal for improvers as the navigational difficulty begins to increase and uses simple contours and point features.
  • Green are used mostly by experienced under 18’s and adults wanting a short but challenging course with a very hard navigational difficulty.
  • Blue are a longer, more physically demanding course in comparison to the green. The distances are more varied between controls and the course attracts experienced orienteers.
  • Brown & Black are very physically demanding and have a very hard navigational difficulty. They are for experienced orienteers only.
  • Score means visiting as many controls as possible in any order in a specific time, like 45mins.

Entry Details

Pre-Entry and pre payment via Racesignup are required for this event.  Entries open Monday 8th May and will close at 9am on the day of the event. However to be guaranteed a course map for your chosen course you MUST pre-enter by 6pm on Tuesday 16th May. 

Late pre-entries - As mentioned above, entries will remain open until 9am on the morning of the event but entries will only be accepted by Racesignup if there are course maps remaining.   RaceSignUp will not accept your entry once the maps for your chosen course have sold out however it's still worth trying to enter, you could still be lucky. You could maybe even try entering a different course if your first choice is full.

Entry on the day (EOD): If you have to resort to coming to the event without pre-entering please read the Registration Section above for details of what to do.

You can view an entry list for all competitors and their chosen start blocks on RaceSignUp (scroll down to Start List section). Please note that you can arrive at the start any time within your block.

Entry Fees: Individual entry fees are:

Seniors - £4 for orienteering club members, £6 for non members

Juniors - £2 for orienteering club members, £4 for none members

As well as individuals the entry system also allows pairs, groups or families who wish to go round a course together to enter using a sliding scale of fees.  Full details of the various group entry fees are on the RaceSignUp web pages (link above).

Note that a Senior is someone born 2001 or earlier and a Junior is someone born 2002 or later.  Matriculated students will normally be eligible to enter as Juniors and pay junior fees - check out RaceSignUp as before.

SportIdent (SI) electronic timing will be used.  If you have your own SI (dibber) please bring it with you.

We have SIs for hire free of charge via the pre-entry system but there is a £30 charge if lost. If you would like to buy your own SI-Card then a variety are available directly from SportIdent UK.   The choice may be confusing and it may help you to know that the SI-Cards which ESOC hires out are very similar to the most basic model shown on the linked page - the SI-Card 8.

Contacts / Officials

Enquiries by EMAIL

Safety and Risk

A comprehensive risk assessment will have been carried out by the organiser, but participants take part at their own risk and are responsible for their own safety during the event.

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