Sunny Sussex WeekendRivers Wood MiddleSat 12 May, 2018

Near: Balcombe
Level of event: Regional
Type of event: Race



Save the date for next year's Sunny Sussex around picturesque Arundel on 18th and 19th May 2019.

Organiser's and planner's comments now available.

Organiser's Comments

Thanks to everyone who made the journey to ‘Sunny Sussex’. It was nice to see people from both near and far. Sorry Rivers Wood didn’t quite deliver on the Sunny part for those that had later starts!

This was my second go at organising a regional event and I was very grateful to have the guidance of Bridget and Les Hooper (Mum and Dad) and the reliability of Les and Ralph’s SI team to ensure that most things were covered. Apologies to anyone who struggled to get out of the parking field. We forgot to sign the exit gate to the north, which was the intended flat exit point.

We were keen to make this weekend appealing to people to travel to the area, sociable and welcoming to families, hence the close proximity of the events, assembly field finishes, string courses and availability of catering (Tom’s Burgers and Tulleys Farm) and Ultrasport trading. We hope it all added to the event. If you have any suggestions on improvements to the weekend please let me know.

Jennie provided an amazing Paw Patrol string course in a lovely bit of woodland and despite the rain had just under 20 children enjoying the course. This is how my children got keen on Orienteering and how my son built the confidence to go on his own, so I’m a great advocate. It’s quite a lot of work to plan and implement, but I think it reaps rewards in the end.

Thank you to those that braved the rain towards the end of the event to support the medal ceremony for the SEOA Middle Distance Champs. For those that didn’t collect, we will get them to you as soon as possible.

Thanks also to Simon Greenwood and the staff of the Balcombe Estate who were very accommodating of our many visits to the area. I had a last minute scare when on the Friday lunch time I came back to the assembly field to find that that the large field before the long course run in and home to the start of the string course was full of very lively cows and to top it off, the field was signed with “Warning Bull in Field”. Hmm – I could think of a few people who wouldn’t be too pleased about that! A quick phone call to the Estate office put my mind at rest, as they were on the move through to the next field – out of the competition area.

Thank you to the large team of volunteers on car parking, entries, SI, information, first aid and start. Thanks also to Kate Turner who played a vital role in helping to publicise the event and Will Heap for coming up with our Sunny Sussex logo.

We have a number of lost property items which I’ll be posting a photo of at the end of this event info. Please email me to arrange collection.

Finally, thank you to Pete for making the most of the area and planning some enjoyable courses and to our children Ben and Emma for putting up with lots of pre-event organisation and for helping to set things up, take things down and taking a stint at manning the naughty numbers and Worth Lodge string course. Maybe next time we won’t have the planner and organiser in the same household!

Anna Chapman, Organiser

Planner's Comments

Planning and organisational aspects of an event can rarely be considered in isolation from each other. Rivers Wood has been used regularly for many years for smaller club events (where there is enough room to accommodate assembly/parking etc on the southern side of the wood). The combined Rivers Wood and Balcombe area has been used by SO in the past, but not for around 20 years. The Sunny Sussex event required greater assembly infrastructure than normal, so parking and assembly in the fields to the North was used.

The area offers three distinct areas: Rivers Wood; the field/”pocket” wood network; and the small, but detailed former pleasure/kitchen gardens block with a myriad of horse jumps and other features. Continuous highly technical navigation was not going to be practical so contrasts of terrain and maximizing route choice was what I aimed for in the course design.

The best general orienteering terrain was in Rivers Wood itself, so the start was located adjacent to maximize the amount of each course in there. Middle distance course lengths meant that the basic task of getting back to an assembly field finish would consume significant parts of the course, but was (I felt) an acceptable compromise to maintain the atmosphere of the SE Middle Champs. Inevitably, extensive running across fields was a feature of the mid-late parts of courses, but I kept the sting in the tail of the courses with the garden area to force a major change in pace just before the end – many people commented that they enjoyed this part.

Course times were shorter than I had expected (particularly Blue, Green, Short Green, and light Green) and courses should’ve been, perhaps, 10-15% longer. In view of the multi-event weekend – this may’ve been forgiven by competitors also running one or both of the other two events! I also felt that the Out-of-Bounds marking of the pipe over the river could’ve been clearer on the map (though it was mentioned in the final details).

Paul was invaluable as a Controller and picked up my careless mistakes and gave an essential sanity check to the courses, control site selection and early draft map. Many thanks to him for helping to ensure the quality of the event, especially with the tight timescales that we ended up having to work with.

As always, course design for the lowest and mid level technical difficulties caused the most discussion. Options for White and Yellow were limited (and resulted in a linear forest of smiley/sad face signs in parts due to a shortage of paths).

Final comments from me are to say thanks for coming, thanks for all the thanks, and that the sun was out for a bit earlier in the morning (while I was putting controls out) – honest! Luckily the worst of the rain didn’t fall until most of you were finished.

Peter Chapman, Planner


Is a web app for sharing and comparing orienteering routes. You can draw your own route or upload a GPS track from your watch. It also allows you to watch an animated replay with a simulated mass start.

Pre event info


Rivers Wood middle distance race is set in the Sussex Ouse Valley. The map is newly surveyed for the weekend.

Entry on the day is available, there are plenty of spare maps.

This event incorporates the South East Middle Distance Championships.

Start list Everyone has open starts.


Sunny Sussex Weekend Series Info

A weekend of orienteering in the High Weald area of Mid Sussex where you can take part in a middle distance at Rivers Wood, sprint at Goffs Park and a long distance event at Worth Lodge, all within 8km of Crawley. Pre-enter all three events and receive a £3 discount per senior. See Event Flyer.

Volunteer here

Enquiries here

Read more about this series

Location Info

Nearest town: Balcombe

* Postcodes are not very precise in some areas, so don't rely on them for an exact location.

Directions / Parking

Car parking is in a field at TQ350288 adjacent to Batchelors Cottages.

The event will be signed from Borde Hill Lane, to the south of Balcombe. Turn off at TQ322288, just south of Stonehall Farm. Coming from the South, the turn off is on the right and from the north it is on the left. Please don’t turn into Stonehall Farm. Access to the parking is along a single track road.

It is requested that competitors do not exit from the car park until after 1pm to prevent congestion on the access road. Please be courteous to local residents.

Public Transport

The nearest train station is Balcombe, just over 3km to the north of the event centre

Course Information

White and yellow are suitable for beginners, orange and light green for improvers and short green to black for experienced Orienteers.

Middle distance: 
Black 5.3km (M18 M20-40)  
Brown 4.8km (M16 M45-50 W18 W20-40) 
Blue 4.2km (M55-60 W45-50)
Green 3.3km (M65-75 W16 W55-60)
Short green 2.6km (W65-75 W80+ M80+)
Light green 2.7km (M14 W14)
Orange 1.8km (M12 W12)
Yellow 1.6km (M10 W10)
White 1.4km 
String course for young children
Distances subject to final controlling.

To be competitive in the South East Middle Distance Champs you need to be a member of the South East Orienteering Association and enter your age-specific course, without any shadowing. The white course is not a championship course. Medals will be awarded to the first three SEOA members in each of the following age groups:

M/W 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20-40, 45-50, 55-60, 65-75, 80+

Entry Details

Enter On the Day (subject to map availability): BOF seniors £11, Other seniors £13, SO juniors free, Other juniors £3. Family groups going with children will be charged at the junior rate.

Enter On the Day White, yellow & orange: BOF seniors £5, Other seniors £7.

To be competitive in the South East Middle Distance Champs, please enter the age-class specific course (see course information). 

£3 discount for seniors entering all three events

'Dibber' hire: 
Electronic punching (SI) chips are available to hire. 
SIAC (contactless): £2, non-SIAC (not contactless) £1 per day


11:30 - 13:00

Start Times

12:00 to 13:30 Courses close 15:00 Start 900m downhill across fields. Finish in assembly area.

Map Details

Map 1:7,500 with 5m contours. Extended mapped area of Rivers Wood - some not used for Orienteering for nearly 20 years, some completely new to the sport.

Terrain Description

This varied area comprises of broad-leaf woodland and farmland. The woodland is undulating with an extensive but irregular path network. More information in final details.

Dog restrictions

Dogs on leads allowed in car park and assembly. No dogs on courses. Please remember to pick up after your dog.


Ultrasport Clothing and Equipment, Tom's Burger Van, String course for children, Toilets


Accomodation: Crawley, Horsham and Haywards Heath are all nearby and offer a wealth of accomodation. For more information, visit

Local attractions include the Bluebell Railway, Tilgate Park with GoApe and Nature Centre, Borde Hill Garden, Wakehurst botanic garden, Nymans NT and Standen NT,

Contacts / Officials

Planner: Peter Chapman

Organiser: Anna Chapman

Controller: Paul Todd LOK

Photo Gallery

click/tap photos for a larger version

Sunny Rivers Wood

Sunny Rivers Wood

Rivers Wood Bluebells

Rivers Wood Bluebells

Balcombe Estate Garlic

Balcombe Estate Garlic

Checking out the String Course Area

Checking out the String Course Area