Welcome to WAOC!

Who are we? What do we do? How can I join?

WAOC is the West Anglian Orienteering Club, so when you've worked out where West Anglia is and what Orienteering is, you'll know what we do.

West Anglia

West Anglia is the western part of East Anglia!  In practice, most of WAOC's members come from an area which stretches from Bedford in the west to the Suffolk border in the east, and from Peterborough in the north to Stevenage in the south.  WAOC is responsible for mapping and running Orienteering events in the Thetford Chase and other woodland, as well as parks in Ampthill, Bedford, Peterborough, Huntingdon, Cambridge, Royston, Baldock and Stevenage, and urban events in towns such as Huntingdon, Ely, and Cambridge.
Our major mapped areas can be found here.


Orienteering is a sport, or recreation, in which you navigate your own way at your own pace between controls laid out in forests, fells and similar terrain, or increasingly also in cityscapes.  The control sites are marked by circles on a special large scale coloured map and by red and white flags on the ground.  The courses vary in length from less than 2km to over 12km and most WAOC events also have a string course, which toddlers and young children can follow safely through the forest.

Starts are staggered over a two hour period, so whilst you are actually out in the forest no-one else knows how badly or well you are doing.  The staggered start also helps families: Dad can take the children around the string course whilst Mum competes, and still have time to compete himself when Mum returns.

Sport for All

Orienteering caters for everyone.  Whilst elite orienteers run at speed through complex terrain, reading the map as they go, whole families frequently tackle courses together, with the children rushing ahead to punch at the control with the parents keeping an eye on the general direction, and maybe providing the motor power towards the end of the course!

Every event has a range of courses.  As well as the string course for the very young, there will also be courses suitable for 6 year-olds and upwards to tackle by themselves.  At the other extreme, there are long, technically demanding courses for the fit, experienced orienteers.  The older age groups are also catered for, with courses which are still technically challenging but less physically demanding (there are often larger scale maps for older competitors whose eyesight is not what it was!).

At Local events (level C and D) you enter on the day, and compete on whichever (clour coded) course you choose.  Larger Scale regional Level B events usually involve pre-entry online, and offer an extended range of colour coded courses or you might compete according to age and sex. In this case, for each age-group there will be male and female courses, possibly with short and long options.  Womens courses are typically about 2/3 the length of the comparable mens course.

Orienteering appeals to both men and women, with women making up 30-40% of the competitors, more than for most outdoor sports.

For more detail about what happens at an Orienteering event and how it is organised, visit our Introduction to Orienteering page.

When? Where? How much?

Most Orienteering takes place on Sunday mornings during the autumn winter and spring, and WAOC puts on a local event almost once a month.  Neighbouring clubs do about the same, so if you are willing to drive around East (and West) Anglia, you can find a suitable orienteering event most Sundays.  For a list of forthcoming fixtures, see our Fixtures list.

If you become hooked on the sport, there are events held all over the country, and many WAOC members frequently travel to places like the Lake District, the Peak District, the Yorkshire Moors, Scotland and Wales to compete on top quality terrain, or to city centres including London for a "City Race".

There are also some big festivals of Orienteering: two, three, or four day events at the major bank holidays; and a week-long event in Scotland, Wales or the Lake District during August.  WAOC members will be seen at all these events.

Most Local (Colour-coded) events cost £8 for an individual adult, with individual children and students at £2-£3 .  Regional events often cost £10 -£12 for the adult entry fee.  Adults who are members of British Orienteering obtain a £2 discount off most entries All the events are put on voluntarily by orienteers for orienteers, but the price reflects the costs of producing the special maps, and land access fees.

What do I need?

All you need to start Orienteering is some sensible outdoor clothing, not shorts, and a good pair of walking shoes or trainers.  If the weather is cold or wet, make sure that you have adequate protection; you might also want to bring an A4 bag to protect your map.  A compass is useful, but not essential, and you can always borrow one at the event.

When you get more involved, you'll probably consider buying a good compass and fell-running (or similar) shoes.  Most orienteers wear tracksters with optional "bramble bashers" to protect your lower legs and long sleeved top and perhaps additional layers according to the weather.  WAOC has its own very sylish long and short-sleeved club tops made from hi-tech breathable fabric.

How do I join?

You don't need to be a member of a club to take part in local events, but we hope you'll join us since Orienteering can only survive if competitors join clubs and contribute to the running of the sport (helping at events is also very good fun and sociable).  WAOC has about 400 members, male and female.  Many of our members join as families.

Our current membership fees are:

Juniors (20yrs and under) and full time students £2.50
Seniors (21yrs +) £12.00
Family £12.00
Groups (eg. School, Scouts) £15.00

To join, print off, complete and send this membership form together with a cheque or postal order for the appropriate amount to our membership secretary, Anne Duncumb (email: memsec@waoc.org.uk, phone: 01223-843064).

Feel free to contact Anne by email or phone if you have any questions about WAOC membership.

WAOC is affiliated to British Orienteering, the national federation for the sport, and most WAOC members are also members of British Orienteering. 
Contact Anne for more information about joining British Orienteering.

We look forward to meeting you at our events.

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