The White Rose Weekend has been held in Yorkshire since 1972 and is Eborienteers festival weekend. Combining a visit to family in Humberside we set off for the North York Moors, each with our own personal goals: Esk going solo on W10B, Lyra running up W12A, Rebecca on her first W40S greens, and Jolyon on first browns (M40L) since early 90s.
The expected inclement Yorkshire weather and ferocious late summer brambles didn’t materialise, with super weather. Hopping over the dense blooming heather and the berry-laden bilberries was energy sapping, although the latter provided a tasty snack.
The event took place north of Helmsley on the lower slopes of Helmsley and Rievaulx Moors. In addition to the medium and classic events, there was a sprint around Helmsley, a Trail-O, night score, Monday relay and a Mountain bike event; all set around a field-based bespoke campsite, offering quizzes, welly whanging, barbecues, O-maze and a village open air pool.
Middle distance at Collis Rigg (Ashdale and Cowhouse Bank) was, for some, a fast gallop through plantations dominated by bracken, and along the escarpment of Cowhouse Bank with delightful views of the heather clad moors. In places, the bracken was so high (shoulder high) that locating surface topogaphy such as shallow re-entrants and shallow gullies was like hunting ground features wearing a blindfold; i.e. waiting until you fell in them. This required accurate path-based attack points, however this proved problematic given the presence of recent unmapped bike tracks. Most people in this section looked lost. The escarpment initially appeared technical, but proved straightforward and thankfully the planner kindly chose not to overdo the descent and re-ascent.
The sprint around Helmsley in the afternoon started at the cricket club, with strict instructions to avoid the field of play and to run behind the sightscreen; not to mention avoiding being struck by a cricket ball. Helmsley is a chocolate box Yorkshire market town with a thriving town square, pretty packhorse bridges, and plenty of pubs and cafes with folk up from Leeds and York, basking in the unexpected warmth of a Yorkshire bank holiday. Navigating between the revellers, and dashing in an amongst the narrow ginnels, and under bridges was great fun. With the winners completing the sprint in 15 minutes it was a great way to stretch the legs in a jovial, and warm afternoon. Lyra managed to completely miss a control hidden behind the cricket score hut, only realising at the next control (a play swing, complete with exercising toddler). She quickly made amends but wasted a crucial 2-3 minutes on an 11 minute sprint. I had better luck finishing 10th on MV.
The classic event at Heater Rigg on the Sunday was far more demanding. The endless path network in the plantation created a network of convoluted muddy tracks, none of which helped the direct route, and tempted the use of a slower circuitous one. In contrast the western half on Rievaulx moor was a wilderness akin to a New Forest style landscape of glades, open woodland, patches of bracken and an extensive area of relatively runnable regenerating woodland. Dotted throughout were metre-high ant hills (to dodge), mapped as knolls, cairns, Larsen traps and numerous indistinct glades. The girls completed their classic courses in good times, although the tricky navigation for Rebecca, and the 8.5 km slog over bilberries, heather and soggy woodland for me proved tiring, and we both met each other on the final few controls with already 90 minutes on the clock. Thankfully we knew the girls would be spending our money at O-Nosh back in the campsite. You certainly get your money’s worth with brown, and although the navigation is no more difficult that green/blue it is a physical step-up. I was very pleased with 10th/16 and 12th/18 given the strong field with even our usual SW winners coming fourth.
We came away with three iconic White Rose mugs presented to top 3 places on all courses. Esk was thrilled with her second on W10B, racing up to the podium before they could finish pronouncing her name. Lyra came third on W12A against some very fast girls. Rebecca surprised herself with 2nd on W40B. I had little expectation of a top three, but after 150 minutes of combined running, I was 77 seconds off 3rd; probably the time I spent re-tying my shoelaces!
(Thanks to Steve Rush for the action shots)