Permanent Courses & Smartphone Orienteering

You can orienteer whenever you want at many permanent and seasonal orienteering courses across Scotland’s parks, cities and countryside. Permanent courses are great as part of a day out – as a family, a group of friends, or for individual training. Some courses use paper maps while others are available on your smartphone.

Permanent orienteering marker post
Permanent courses often feature markers like this

What is a Permanent Orienteering Course?

Permanent orienteering courses are often found in public places like parks and other popular outdoor locations. You use a course map to navigate between permanent control points – white and orange orienteering symbols attached to things like posts or benches.

You can ask for a map from the relevant visitor centre or ask the local orienteering club. For a list of all courses in Scotland and information on where to download permanent orienteering maps, visit the British Orienteering website.

Seasonal orienteering courses in Scotland (ROMP)

Scottish Orienteering regularly sets up semi-permanent seasonal orienteering courses, for more advanced orienteers. Called the “Regular Orienteering Map Programme” (ROMP), each course is set up for several months. The latest ROMP course was laid out in Inshriach in late 2019; find details here:

Smartphone orienteering with MapRun

MapRun logo
MapRun logo

MapRun is an app which allows you to use your smartphone to enjoy orienteering without needing to set up physical control points on the ground. There are now MapRun courses set up all across Scotland which you can go and run right now, with more new ones being added all the time.

Using MapRun, you can run an orienteering course using either the map on your phone screen or a paper version; the only difference from a “traditional” course is that there are no physical markers on the ground. Instead, the phone tracks your location as you run and vibrates or buzzes to confirm when you’ve reached each control point on the course.

As with other modern orienteering punching and timing systems, you can compare your times between controls and around the whole course with other runners, and with MapRun you can take part whenever you want.

Maprun app screenshot
How MapRun looks on your smartphone

Because there are no physical control markers, courses can be left open permanently for people to enjoy at any time. Setting up new courses is relatively straightforward for those with orienteering experience, and can be done from the comfort of your home.

How to use MapRun – a step-by-step guide

Here’s our quick guide to get you started, and you can take a look at our more detailed pictorial instructions.

  1. Download the MapRun app on Google Play or the App Store to your GPS-enabled smartphone.
  2. Enter your personal details.
  3. Select the “event” you want to run. You can find information about existing courses across Scotland in the table below, so you can choose by location, type, length and difficulty. Navigate to the UK/Scotland folder and then click on the event name to download the map. We recommend you download the map while you have access to wifi or a good mobile signal. Once downloaded, you’ll be able to retrieve the map from local storage on your phone.
  4. Some “events” are protected by a 4-digit PIN, which you should be able to find in the course information table below.
  5. If you prefer to run using a paper copy of the map, pdf files of many of the courses in Scotland are available for self-printing via the link in the course information table.
  6. Once you’re ready to run, click on “Go To Start” (if necessary re-loading the event from local storage in the event list first) and enter the PIN if required.
  7. Click on “Start the GPS” as you approach the start point. Your phone should beep and the clock start timing once you come within range of the start location.
  8. Run the course as normal. Your phone should beep when you reach each control point. Sometimes you may need to slow down and stop for a couple of seconds, or move a few paces until it registers.
  9. Once you have found all the points (or your time is up for a score course) head for the finish for the final beep. You should avoid running past the finish before the end of the course or you may accidentally stop the clock!
  10. The app will automatically attempt to save your results but if you don’t have access to data this can be done later. Please remember to save your results as it will help us know how many people are enjoying using the app! If you have a Strava account you can also synchronise your session directly.
  11. To view the results table for the event, select “Show Results” and select the event that you have just completed. You will also be able to view the “track” of your route.
  12. If you’d like to set up your own course on MapRun, see the information below or find out more here.

MapRun courses in Scotland

Here’s a list of current MapRun orienteering courses you can try across Scotland. Where a length is specified, the course is linear and where a time is specified, it’s a score format course.

If there are no courses near you yet, contact your local club or read below on how to create your own MapRun course.

You can download a copy of the map and course for printing by clicking on the event name (note that in some cases the course is split into 2 for ease of printing on A4 paper).

Scottish MapRun Courses (updated 28th Jan 2020)

Club and Location MapRun Event NameLength or TimeTerrainDifficultyPIN
CLYDE
MilngavieBaljaffray Long4.3kmUrbanOrange
MilngavieBaljaffray Med3.8kmUrbanOrange
MilngavieBaljaffray Short2.2kmUrbanOrange
ESOC
EdinburghOxgangs40′UrbanOrange9251
FVO
Bridge of AllanStirling Uni Trial2.5kmCampus / parkOrange0773
LinlithgowLinlithgow Town Challenge60′UrbanOrange7863
StirlingStirling South Night Street45′UrbanOrange3008
GRAMP
AberdeenBalgownie3.9kmUrbanOrange
AberdeenDuthie Park2.0kmParkOrange
AberdeenHazlehead2.3kmParkOrange
AberdeenSeaton and Hillhead3.5kmCampus / parkOrange
AberdeenWestburn Victoria Park 12.4kmParkOrange
WesthillWesthill5.2kmUrbanOrange5674
INVOC
InvernessUHI Inverness 12.0kmCampus / parkOrange
InvernessUHI Inverness Easy Intro1.2kmCampus / parkYellow
MAROC
AboyneAboyne School 12.4kmUrbanOrange6433
AboyneAboyne40′UrbanOrange0918
AboyneMMM63.6kmUrban / forestOrange
AlfordAlford M-Hv23.1kmPark / woodlandOrange
BallaterMMM2a3.2kmUrbanOrange
BanchoryMMM1a3.1kmUrbanOrange
BanchoryMMM7d2.9kmUrban / forestOrange
BraemarMorrone Birkwood Easy2.8kmMoor / woodlandYellow
BraemarMorrone Birkwood Hard4.8kmMoor / woodlandLight Green
Cambus o’ MayDinnet South 14.7kmForestGreen3782
Cambus o’ MayDinnet South LG 13.3kmForestLight Green7183
CrathieCrathie2.7kmWoodlandOrange
Glen DavanMMM5a2.5kmForest / moorLight Green
StrathdonStrathdon2.9kmWoodlandOrange
Tom’s CairnMMM34.5kmMoorlandOrange
MOR
ElginElgin 13.8kmParkOrange8373
ElginElgin 1 Long5.8kmParkOrange
SOA
Glenmore LodgeGlenmore Lodge d1.5kmCampusOrange3242
LochgoilheadLochgoilhead 1b1.2kmParkOrange3687
TAY
PerthNorth Muirton3.3kmUrban / parkOrange4563

How to create your own MapRun course

If you’ve created an orienteering map before, setting up a MapRun course is relatively simple.

  • You’ll need a suitable map and area. MapRun is better suited for use in urban, parkland, or open moor areas where there is a strong GPS signal, rather than forest.
  • The map will need to be geo-referenced; most modern orienteering maps are already geo-referenced but if it hasn’t been updated recently this extra step will be required.
  • The required input files can be created from an .ocd map file using either Ocad, OpenOrienteering Mapper or OpenOrienteeringMap software, together with GoogleEarth.
  • The map file needs to be in kmz format and the locations of controls saved as a separate kml.
  • If you don’t have an existing orienteering map of your area, you might be able to create a simple version for street events using the tools in OpenOrienteeringMap with OS Open Street Map data.
  • You’ll need to send your prepared files to sarah@scottish-orienteering.org for upload to the MapRun server; Sarah can also point you towards help if you need it.

You can find out more about the processes required to create the MapRun input files here:

Here is a step by step guide on how to use Openorienteering Mapper to georeference your map file and convert it to the required kmz format for uploading to MapRun:

Alternatively, contact Sarah Dunn, who’ll be happy to help you get started.

New MapRunF app

A new version of the MapRun app is also now available and under Beta testing (Dec 2019). The app is called MapRunF and has a lot of new additional functions, including an option to upload and test your own temporary course. You can also modify operational functions such as the threshold distance to accept a control punch and switch on a tracking dot to show current location. Existing MapRun events can also be accessed through MapRunF. More information is available here.

Testing MapRunF in the Scottish mountains
Testing MapRunF for mountain marathon training

If you need any further guidance or additional information, please contact the National Orienteering Centre by calling 01479 861374 or e-mailing Sarah Dunn – sarah@scottish-orienteering.org.