Edinburgh Southern Orienteering Club

Turf, an outdoor addictionOutdoor Addiction

This article, by Crawford Lindsay, gives an introduction to Turf. It appeared in the May 2020 issue of Capital-O.

Some of you will know about my interest in Turf, an online game that you play using an app on a smartphone. Turf originated in Sweden, and there are hundreds of enthusiasts there. It’s an outdoor game – you claim “turf zones” by going to them.

Capturing a zone earns you points, and you usually get a few points per hour until someone else takes the zone. (The number of points per hour depends on how popular a zone is; in Scotland this tends to be 1 point, unless Swedes come here on holiday!) You can revisit a zone, every 23 hours if you like, to gather even more points. There are monthly rounds, and at the end of each round winners are announced, your monthly total is reset and the fun starts again. Your overall total carries on increasing though, and like many online games, this determines your rank. There are some additional features - you can collect virtual medals, e.g. for visiting multiple regions, taking many zones, or collecting the most points in your own region. If you have the most points in the country in a round, you win the right to nominate a zone in a place you choose.

There are zones defined all over Scotland, including many in Edinburgh and other Scottish cities, as well as more remote areas, so wherever you are, there’s likely to be a turf zone nearby. Collecting them has taken us to some corners we wouldn’t otherwise have visited, both at home and abroad, and has led to all kinds of curious discoveries. It’s an interesting way of exploring the city, and in these times of limited opportunities it enlivens a walk, run, or bike ride. Working out which zones to go to, and in what order, is a fun puzzle - you can practice your score orienteering technique! Or you can use turfing for urban interval training, or simply follow your favourite route at a leisurely pace. You can do it any way you like.

There’s a good description of Turf on Wikipedia.
And the Turf website has lots of further information. To get started, you simply download the app and follow the instructions.

Also see the Turf FAQ and Turf Jargon Buster pages on this website.

- Crawford Lindsay

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