Orienteering at COAM

We launched our permanent orienteering course in September 2017. The course is available for schools, uniformed groups and general Museum visitors. We also offer training sessions to support the use of our orienteering courses. These must be pre-booked, please use our Education Contact Form to start this process.

If you are a confident practitioner then please download the most appropriate map and visit us at your convenience. There are three courses, all appropriate for families, general museum visitors, schools, and uniformed groups. Usual Museum entrance prices will apply, pre-booked group discounts are available.

You can choose from three routes of varying difficulty: 1k, 1.5k or 2k courses. All of the markers are located on the Museum’s grounds, so once you have completed the course you can spend the rest of the day enjoying the Museum.

You can download our orienteering course maps here for free or you can purchase them in our shop at £2 per copy.

Chiltern Open Air Museum Easy Orienteering Course
Chiltern Open Air Museum Medium Orienteering Course
Chiltern Open Air Museum Hard Orienteering Course


What is orienteering?

Orienteering is a sport, which combines outdoor adventure with map reading and navigational skills. It involves navigating though a park or woodland with the aid of a specially produced map, the aim being to locate checkpoints (controls) on various features along the way, such as a tree stump or sign post etc. Controls are represented by orange and white sign (pictured).

The skill in orienteering is in choosing the best route between controls.

Here at Chiltern Open Air Museum we have three routes, Easy (0.9km), Medium (1.4km), and Hard (1.9km). It is a great way to explore the Museum, discover hidden corners and spend time in a lovely natural environment.

This is a self-led activity. These hints and tips will help you get the most out of our orienteering courses.

Orienteering key skills

One of the first things to understand is the map. Orienteering maps have special colours and symbols and each map has a key to these to help you. The map is designed to help you plan your route between controls so will feature things like “Tree canopy – fast running” and “Thick vegetation”, which gives you more of an idea of how easy the terrain is to cover.

Setting the map

Another key skill is “setting the map”. This involves rotating the map until it shows the features on the map exactly as they appear on the ground. Once you have set the map it is then much easier to follow paths and tracks, with buildings appearing on route exactly where they are on the map.

To do this find your current location on the map, if you are on a track or path rotate the map until the path on the map runs in exactly the same direction as the path on the ground. You should then see that other features, such as buildings, appear in exactly the same place/direction on the map as they do on the ground. The map gridlines point north so the map can be set using a compass if you have one.


Another key skill is “Thumbing”. This is all about keeping a track of your progress on the map as you follow your route. This way you can quickly see where you are without having to look over the entire map every time.

To do this keep your thumb on your exact location and move it along your chosen route as you run or walk. You can see other features you will pass on your map so you can “tick” these off as you go, keeping an eye on your location all the time. You may have to fold your map to do this so long as you can see your location and some of your route.

Getting started

All the courses start and finish at the same place. The start/finish post is behind Northolt barn next to the main spine road opposite a bench. On your map it will be marked as a red triangle. The aim is to visit every control marked on the course map IN NUMBER ORDER. Each control has a yellow letter on it, you can, if you choose, make a note of letters on the enclosed control card so you can see if you have made a mistake (there is a list of the correct letters and numbers in the ticket office). The finish is marked by a red circle.


What is orienteering? powerpoint presentation
What is orienteering downloadable pdf
Chiltern Open Air Museum Easy Orienteering Course
Chiltern Open Air Museum Medium Orienteering Course
Chiltern Open Air Museum Hard Orienteering Course