At the end of June this summer I travelled to Stockholm for a work related assignment. At this time of the year it’s getting dark in Stockholm only around 11pm, and the sun rises pretty early - middle of the night…
The long hours of light and one free weekend in the middle of the trip, gave me the opportunity to try some orienteering around Stockholm.
After checking a few options on the web, I decided to try one of the many naturpass maps offered by the different orienteering clubs in the city.
Here is the web page for the different maps locations:
The naturpass are orienteering maps in and around the city where orienteering flags have been hung. The flags are there throughout the summer season and participation is open to everyone. No registration is needed. All you need to do is purchase one or more maps at one of the many distribution places.
With the help of a local colleague, I picked up a map from a nearby gas station. It had 4 different maps to offer, of which only 2 were available. The other 2 were sold out. One of the employees who seemed to be keen about orienteering explained to me where the orienteering map is located on the broader city road map. I bought one package that included one map.
I didn’t have a car so used public transportation for getting around. Taking the subway (tunnelbana) brought me close enough – to a distance of about 2-3 Km from the edge of the map, where it was accessible through streets & trails.
Equipped with a compass, I tried the following map one evening. (Click on the map for full screen in a new tab)
On my way into the forest I met 2 or 3 other orienteers who were just about to leave the area. One of them showed me the size of the flags (the same size as we use for our summer solstice score events), and the approximate height they were hanging – about twice the standard height. The flags were made of cardboard.
The terrain in this map has most resemblance to some of our Gatineau maps. Most of the trees are evergreen and the forest is more open than the forests around Ottawa. The visibility is better, and there are fewer obstacles like fallen trees. The ground was mostly covered with a green low undergrowth that didn’t hinder running. There were also some huge impressive rocks covered with moss.
The mosquitos were out but were not bad as long as I kept moving, and overall it was quite an enjoyable experience.
In the open and fenced fields around the forests I could see horses, cows & sheep.
I visited this map a few times, each time looking for a different group of flags. The locations of all the flags I visited were accurate & the map was accurate as well.
The flags were identified with control numbers that were identical to the control numbers on the map, and there was an extra letter on the flag that I was supposed to copy to the “punch” card. More instructions were provided in Swedish (which I can’t read) as part of the package.
On the weekend I decided to try another map in a different area of the city – closer to the center, a park called Hellasgarden.
The park was accessible by bus, with the bus stop located just minutes walking from the park’s reception booth. The reception booth in the park offered a variety of outdoor activities one of which was orienteering.
They had 2 courses printed on the same map. One course at beginners level, which is more like our intermediate course, and an advanced course. According to their website (http://www.hellasgarden.se/en) the courses are changed every Friday.
I took the map with the advanced course. It had lots of small line contour features – as you can see in the following map. (Click on the map for full screen in a new tab)
The ground was mostly covered with low undergrowth and sponge like growth on the many rocks around. The flags were of the smaller size and were made of the standard material. This time there weren’t any control numbers on the flags.
Narrow bicycle and hiking paths (that mostly were not on the map) crossed the forest and trails. The best approach was to completely disregard them. The white forest was pretty open, and the terrain was challenging and accurate.
Along the trails I saw lots of bikers, joggers and others – but no orienteers.
I visited only the flags I chose (mostly from the eastern part of the map). The finish of my improvised course was on a huge rock just above a few tennis courts that are in the park. There was no need to report to anyone when you finished.
This was also a very nice course, and a good learning experience.
If someone is in the area in the season and wants to experience orienteering at his/her own pace, I highly recommend these naturpass maps.