21st Mountain Navigation Challenge - Manor Hills - 18th - 19th July 2009

The Mountain Navigation Challenge is a score type two day mountain marathon where teams of two must carry kit for an overnight camp and collect as many points as possible over both days. It's small compared to other MM events in that the number of teams is limited to 20, you provide and mark up your own maps, there's no electronic punches, no trenches at the mid-camp and no retailers or bagpipers. However, it's very big in character as Gregor Heron and I were to find out over the weekend!

The event centre was at St Mary's Hall in Cappercleuch and this is where we, along with the 11 other teams marked up the controls on our map. Teams left at 2 minute intervals and the points for each control were given out 5 minutes before we started. However, we'd already decided to head over to the western side of the Manor valley, leaving the rougher ground on the east side for day two. Once underway our initial plan to pick up the 40 point control at the top of Broad Law disappeared along with the good weather and we ended up following a route that took us over, around and between the hills above Megget, Manorhead, Dollar Law and Kirkhope before arriving at the midcamp at Glenrath 10 minutes inside the 7 hour time limit. Here we were surprised to find that we were sitting in fourth place overall and third equal in points.

After a very wet and windy night we were sent on our way just after 8 am for the 5 hour journey back to Cappercleuch. We picked up some controls in the hills above Glen Sax (familiar area to those who have ran the Two Breweries) before heading southeast via Black Law and Dryhope. In typical fashion the sun came out for the final hour of the event. On arriving back at the hall were greeted by the event organisers who had laid on a fantastic spread of food and drinks and once all the teams were back a small prize giving of beer and wine ensued and the profits from the event (around £12!) were donated to the Tweed Valley and Moffat MRTs.

The organising and planning that went into this event was superb and there was a really friendly atmosphere throughout. There were 31 controls laid out (not O kites but small pieces of plumbing pipe with a letter written on) and the points value of each made route choice for us a real dilemma in places. We were pleased to finish fourth overall, our navigation was fine (aided by local knowledge) and on reflection we only made one poor choice regarding control selection. During the event we covered around 55km with 2500m ascent.

The winning team get to organise next year's event so looks like it will be in the Western Lake District. At £30 entry per team this is an ideal event for those wishing to sample the delights of a mountain marathon. Highly recommended!

Details, results and pictures are on the event website www.mtnavchallenge.co.uk.

Cameron Scott


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