Permanent Orienteering Course Ardgillan Castle


Ardgillan castle has permanent orienteering posts installed and maps for 8 different courses. There are two types of post short wooden post and tall black post to which an orienteering plaque is attached. The plaques have a unique three character code on them. The first two characters are for comparing to the code in your control descriptions so you can see you are at the correct control. The third character can be written down on the map or on a separate “control card” so you can prove that you have found the correct control.

There are eight different courses. Loops 1 to 3 are small loops which keep close to the castle and allow people to get a feel for orienteering. The three short courses are for beginners. The medium and long courses are longer and increasingly more technical

Family Groups:

If this is your first time orienteering choose one of the three Short course maps. Print out the map. Follow the course in order staring at the Start / Finish post on the sea side of the castle. Go to each red circle/ control in order and find the post. Then check that the first two letters/numbers match the code on the control descriptions on the map. Next note down the third character on the map or on a separate “control card”.

When finished check that the characters you noted match the characters in the answer sheet.


Before visiting Ardgillan Castle spend some time to familiarise the students with orienteering map symbols and colours. There are also activities which can take place in your school which can prepare the students for orienteering. Check out for more details.

There are three small loops for starting to orienteer in the park. You can start by walking with your group around one of the small loops and showing them what the posts look like, how to read and orientate the map, how to check you are at the correct place and noting down the third character on the post. The map should be orientated or “set” at each turn to match the ground.

Then send the students out on one of the three loops where they can practice orienteering close to the start/stop and build up confidence. By having 3 loops this allows for three sets of students to start at the one time. Leave a 2 or 3 minute gap before the next group of students are sent out on the courses. Some students can do the loops in reverse. If all the class go on the same course then they can follow each other and not make any orienteering decisions.

Orienteering is a solo sport and older students will learn the most by going on their own. Sending students in pairs is also a good option.

Check that the students found the correct controls on their loop by using the answer sheet. The speedy students can then try a different loop.

Once the students are confident with the loops then can then do one of the short courses. The short courses are all of the same difficulty. By having 3 courses again a large group of students can be catered for.

Set a time to return to allow for students getting lost of the courses The medium and long courses are longer and more technical. Move students who are finding the short courses easy onto the medium course. Most importantly have fun and enjoy the beautiful park of Ardgillan Castle!