Our annual Christmas Tour this year took place in the Lake District. After travelling up on Sunday night, we arrived to find the curse of Ben-Windsor-organised-accommodation had struck for the second year, and we had no running water. Making do with a stream for collecting toilet/cooking water and a distant supermarket for drinking water, the training went on.
A series of attack points and aiming off courses, followed by a sprint course planned by Scott Collier. A good chance for the experienced to get into the terrain and to remember the basics of orienteering, and a chance for those new to the sport to be introduced and shadowed around courses. James T, Alan, and Ben S decide to take a "short 40 minute jog" back 6km to the hut, not realising it involved such a massive climb and thigh-deep snow, and they arrive home 90 minutes later, shortly followed by the shopping car with £250 of food.
The Bens decide to draw CUOC/OUOC in the snow, and Peter shows his maturity by adding to this. At 400m high the area is coated in knee deep snow with even deeper drifts. We train with several contour courses, followed by a shortened trains exercise because the wind is picking up, the snow is coming, and it's dangerous to stay. In the evening Scott cooks curry, but not before taking a bite of his favourite food: the kitchen knife.
"A near vertical slope covered in rock covered in moss covered in windblow where it's nearly always hailing." More contour based exercises on this steep slope, followed by a trip to Bilbo's cafe.
The wind is up, it's raining, and they've recorded 165mph gusts on top of Cairngorm. We decide going up on the fells isn't the best idea and aim for Great Tower instead. But wait, Windermere is flooded because along with the rain, all the snow is melting into the lakes. Returning to the hut, we set out on a run partway up Helvellyn, but quickly turn back as it's dangerously windy and freezing, and some of us continue the run down into the valley instead. Oxford have their daily game of Tron in the afternoon, then we do circuits and go to the pub for dinner. Oxford get a little overexcited by the game of dominos.
The weather has calmed a little, and despite Ben Stevens claiming he thought he was going to die whilst control hanging, everybody else sensibly goes out in waterproofs to run a simplification course or control pick on another fantastic open fell, still covered in snow. In the afternoon is a draw-your-own-map head to head race, which sees many people getting lost and having to get out the backup full map.
As is traditional, the Tour Champs were planned on Great Tower by Matthew Vokes. This was a single 5km course run by the men and and women.
Thank you to Matthew our excellent training officer for organising most of the training and transport, as well as everybody who planned and drove. It was a great tour, and great preparation for Varsity on 10th March and BUCS on 17-18th March. Already looking forwards to next year's one!