Edinburgh Southern Orienteering Club


MTBO, Long Distance Event, North Pentlands

Pentlands MTBO, Walter Clark

Sat 27th Aug 2022

Info updated: 02nd Sep
Type of event: MTBO
Type of terrain: Moorland



ROUTEGADGET - To add your own course.

You can also look at the courses for people who were able to use Maprun on the day by using the following links:

Maprun for A Course

Maprun for B Course

Maprun for C Course

To read Richard Oxlade's post event comments and some background explanations please click Read More ..... and you'll see them in the main event item.

General Information

POST EVENT COMMENTS FROM ORGANISER, RICHARD OXLADE - Thank you to everyone who took part in the ESOC Long MTBO event on Saturday. Conditions in the Pentlands were at their finest and it was great to see so many happy (albeit exhausted) faces at the finish. I’d hoped for a winning time on the A of about 90-100 minutes so it was great to some of you in this range and congratulations to Alan Hartley winning in 92:48. Thanks for making the journey north Alan!

These events never take place without a lot of help so I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who contributed to our first Pentlands MTBO:

  • Rangers and Landowners – Paula Newton & Tommy McManmon at the Pentland Hills Regional Park for advice on access and coordinating permissions. Alastair McClung at Swanston Farm for letting us use the assembly area by the riding school and Chris Harrigan at the MOD for helping with access to Dreghorn.
  • Keith Dawson and Karena Hanley (MTBO gurus) for planning advice and test riding the long course
  • Walter Clark & Keith (and probably some others) for promoting the event
  • Rob Hickling & Judy Bell for helping me with MapRun
  • Janet Clark, Jayne MacGregor, Anne Hoy, and Hanne & Dave Robertson for helping with kit, on the day inquiries and First Aid cover
  • Margaret for patiently uploading information/ results etc onto the website
  • And last but not least Walter for sharing his birthday cake, taking some great photos (this one says it all) and for his expertise with DIY map boards

I’d naively hoped that MapRun would provide a source of fun and amusement. It seems to have worked for some competitors and I've given links to these for each course under the Results section above.  However, it looks like I’m still on the MapRun learning curve so I’ve also put the courses on Routegadget where you can upload gpx tracks and see routes on the MTBO map. See link in Results section above.





ENTRIES VIA BMBO WEBSITE NOW OPEN UNTIL MIDNIGHT ON 21ST AUGUST but see below under ENTRIES for details of what to do if you miss this deadline. 


EVENT SUMMARY (LOCATION & TERRAIN): The North Pentlands event will be held on the north western part of the Pentlands mega map which has been adapted for mountain bike orienteering.  The terrain is primarily open grassland and upland moorland with an extensive path and track network that includes the surfaced and unsurfaced “Pentland Paths” together with a range of smaller unmaintained double and single track which will allow some fantastic cycling. Route choices may include some small quiet public roads. The adjacent 'thumbnail' is a foot orienteering map and only covers the general Dreghorn area but you can see a reasonable copy of the whole Pentlands mega map here

TERRAIN SPECIAL NOTE: Route choices may include small quiet public roads. The Edinburgh city bypass should not be used under any circumstances (bikes are banned from the bypass) and locals should not be tempted to use routes that are not on the mapped area!

DRESS: Please check the weather forecast and dress appropriately. If the weather is bad cagoules may be compulsory.  

COURSE MAPS:  These will be printed on strong (but not waterproof) paper.  There will be no control descriptions (as is normal for mountain bike orienteering). Note that the base map is 1:10000 but owing to the size of the area course maps will be printed at different scales for different courses.

NOTE - Remember that the map being used will cover a larger area than the thumbnail shown above but you can click on a link to a representation of the larger mapped area in LOCATION & TERRAIN above.   

GATES AND STILES: There are a lot of gates and a few stiles on the mapped area. These can all be used and will be shown on the map as obstructions (red line across the track/path). Please ensure all gates are shut behind you and report any damage to the organiser – future use of the area may depend on this.

PRIVATE PROPERTY: There is some private property on the map. Please do not enter any areas marked in olive green or with vertical red lines.  These are all out of bounds.

OTHER USERS: The Pentlands is heavily used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders. please show courtesy to all and provide space when you pass, particularly in view of the fact COVID 19 is still with us. If approaching from behind please use your bell!  Note that the army will also be using the area for a navigation exercise on the day of the event.

MAP BOARDS: ESOC has a limited number of map boards which can be attached to your bike and borrowed for the event, then returned. Please email the organiser if you would like to reserve one.

LIVESTOCK: Livestock of different kinds may be encountered on all courses. Avoid cycling at speed too close to any livestock. There is a very small chance of encountering the highland cows that live on the eastern end of the area. They are usually quite docile but again please pass them with care. 

MOUNTAIN BIKE ORIENTEERING SAFETY: Please be aware of all the safety issues related to mountain bike orienteering which are in the linked document. 

MILITARY DEBRIS: You may come across military debris on or in the ground and should not touch, move or remove any object. Please report any objects & locations to DTE Regional Operations Room Tel: 0131 310 3426.

GENERAL SAFETY:  Bike helmets, a whistle and a small first aid kit are mandatory. Please ensure your bike is in good condition, that you have basic spares and that you carry a fully charged mobile phone (an emergency contact number will be printed on the map).

RISK: All competitors take part in this event at their own risk. For those more used to foot orienteering, this event is being organised under the rules of British Mountain Bike Orienteering (not British Orienteering).

MEDICAL CONDITIONS (not Covid): You have the option of downloading and completing this Medical Form. It could be life saving if the organisers are aware of any existing medical conditions in the event of an incident. You can put it in a sealed envelope and hand it to the Organiser on the day.  It will only be opened if required and destroyed or handed back to you after the event. 

COVID 19: You should not attend the event if you are showing any symptoms of Covid 19 even though you have pre-entered. You should also not attend if you have specifically been asked to self-isolate.  The event will be managed to take account of all Government guidance current at the time of the event. Please respect distancing and be aware that some competitors may be vulnerable and need extra space.


map location

Nearest town: Edinburgh


The assembly area (Event Centre) will be located at the Swanston Farm Outdoor Riding Centre which is located alongside Swanston Road on the south side of the city bypass (GR: NT240678). This assembly is accessed from a right turn very soon after crossing over the bypass (note that it's not at the Swanston Farm Livery Stables which are further on). The assembly area is located about 100m along a rough vehicle track which parallels Swanston Road (follow signpost). There will be a pre-start briefing at 10.15am.

Public Car/vehicle Parking: If you are coming by car there is a public car park at Swanston (adjacent to Swanston Golf Club (GR: NT240673)).  Turn off Oxgangs Road (B701) south into Swanston Road (brown signpost to Pentland Hills Regional Park, Swanston) and follow for approximately 1km .  NOTE that this car park is not exclusively for this event and is likely to be busy on a Saturday morning. You may therefore need to park along Swanston Road. Please do not use the golf club car park, the overflow car park or the driving range car park as the golf club will be busy with competitions on Saturday morning. 

Registration & Start Times

Note that there will be limited entry or change of course on the day (subject to availability of maps), and there will be a single event briefing at 10.15am for all riders.

EVENT BRIEFING: Arrive at assembly area/event centre by 10am, ready for a briefing and Q&A at 10.15am. 

START/FINISH: these will be co-located ca. 400m west of the assembly area. 

START TIMES FOR ALL COURSES:  10.30am to 11.30am. There will not be allocated start times and we will be using stopwatches rather than any electronic timing.  It is all fairly informal.

MAP BOARDS: There are a limited number of map boards which can be attached to your bike and borrowed for the event, then returned.

AFTERWARDS: Swanston Brasserie (above the golf club) serves food and drinks throughout the day and we will probably meet there after the event to discuss routes, results etc. If there is enough interest we will reserve a couple of tables, please email the organiser know as soon as possible if you would like to eat there after the event and we will reserve a couple of tables. 

Course Information

COURSES: This is a long format event with an emphasis on route choice rather than intricate map reading at speed. Please note that course lengths indicate the straight line distance between controls, while climb has been estimated using the planner’s optimal route. The distance you actually ride is likely to be up to around 20 to 30% longer, depending upon the route you take.  In mountain bike orienteering, a longer route can easily be faster, depending on track ride-ability and climb, etc.

FINAL COURSE DETAILS: 3 courses available (straight line distance, optimum climb)

Long (A) – 12 km, 500m climb. Suitable for experienced MTB orienteers

Medium (B) – 7 km, 330m climb. Suitable for experience MTB orienteers

Short (C) – 7 km, 75m climb. Suitable for novices

TIMING & CONTROL SITES: Orienteering kites will be placed at each control site, but no control codes or punches will be used. We will be using stopwatches rather than electronic timing and it is on trust that you visit all controls (at the end of the day it’s all for fun!). Having said that we will also be using/testing a couple of bits of technology:

1. MAPRUN: this is an App that can be downloaded onto IOS and Android devices. For this event we plan to use it for electronic timing (instead of SI) as it can register when you visit control sites. It will not be mandatory but it adds some fun. All you need to do is download to your phone and we will tell you how to use it at the event. You will still need to use a paper map & compass for navigation.

2. ROUTEGADGET: this is used to share route choices so please record your route on watch/Garmin device or phone and upload it after the event so that you can compare routes.

Overall it’s all fairly informal but riders MUST report to the finish even if they retire.

Note that the explanation of colour coded courses (link below) relates to foot orienteering and is not relevant to this event.

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

ENTER NOW VIA BMBO WEBSITE  up to Midnight on 21st August when entries will close.  We will also print a few spare maps and late entries/entries on the day will be accepted while these are available. PLEASE EMAIL THE ORGANISER RATHER THAN ENTERING VIA THE BMBO WEBSITE.


Day Rider £8.00

BMBO Member £8.00

Youth Entry £4.00

NOTE: eMTBs allowed to take part but must declare on entry and will be listed as “non competitive”.

Contacts / Officials

Planner/ Organiser: Richard Oxlade (ESOC)

Early enquiries: 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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Pentlands MTBO, Walter Clark

Pentlands MTBO