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A Fine Day at Fyne Court

Jim Mallinson's memory map feat

Published: Mon 30 Nov 2009

A Fyne run

A Fyne run

The e-mail shot from Judy Craddock sounded too good an opportunity not to miss “Neil has planned a map memory challenge with a twist, come and have a go!” And so, after a little course checking on Wind Down, I found myself at Fyne Court on a fine Saturday afternoon. “Here’s one for the challenge” I was greeted with as I walked towards Judy and Neil.

A brief explanation followed. All 32 controls out there are used for the 1 hour, map memory, score course, and there is only one master map – at the start. You can come back as often as needed.

Soon I was off, remembering the advice so many have written about in the past – take your time at the master maps, don’t rush off in too much of a hurry and simplify things. A first look at the map showed basically three loops, one small of 4 controls round the gardens, one medium heading north, and one long heading east. The small loop (1-2-3-4) seems easy – save that for the end when brain fatigue has set in. Let’s do the medium loop first – an easy path run to a junction, pick up two more before the open, across the open for 2 more then back for a few more – memorising only a few significant points and the rough locations of controls.

A few minutes later and it was off – along the path for 4 controls (5-6-7-8) then turn right at the end (10) and back and up to the open (9). Across the open for 2 controls (25-13) before back to the woods (20) and in (11) before heading back. At this point, my memory was starting to fade. Coming back past the pond I knew there was one nearby – try west along the path. Yes – there it is (21), now back to the master map. Back round the E side of the pond, running along the path I see one on a wall. Over the wooden barrier, down through the nettles, jump down off the wall over the stream, through more nettles to the control (16). Now back to the start, if I can remember where it is, but before getting there I find control 1 – might as well do the short loop whilst I’m here – so round to 2-3-4 and then back to the start.

A quick check shows I have collected all the west-most controls on the short and medium loops. Now for the long loop – down through the buildings, 4 controls out into the valley, then across, back along the wood, north cross the field, back to the wood, down the valley to 3 close controls, along the track to the road for the re-entrant, up and along the fence to one more, south across the field, back to the walls and house and back to the finish – again, memorising the most important features.

Map memory master Mallinson

Map memory master Mallinson

Several minutes later and off again. Through the buildings and down the valley for 3 controls (14-24-15) – funny, I thought this should be the 4th. Carry on down the valley thinking I’ve come too far, then at the next control (18) realise I have come too far. Never mind, up the hill (19) and back along the valley to pick up the one I’ve missed. Don’t see it first time (lucky! Neil was close by to say I was about 5 metres away from it). Back to get it (27) then round the side of the hill and up through the brambles (26). Drop back down through the brambles as the wood looks rather thick, through the gate and up by the side of the wood (29). Head just off north across the field (23), then contour back to the wood (28) and continue down to the streams (17). Along the track to the road – the woods look rather nasty here, go along the road looking up. See the re-entrant and control, so up to it (32) continue up to the open and along the forest edge. At this point I’m looking at my control card to see how many I still had to visit (something you can’t do with electronic punching!). Realise I’ve 4 to get, so over the stile and round the bramble patch (22) then south across the field (31). Just 2 more – must be by the walls, so head for the corner of the wall and follow it along (12), then back out to the left to the gate (19). Now back through the gardens to the finish. All controls collected in just under 47 minutes – much to the amazement of Judy and Neil – hence this article. Quite a challenge and well worth the visit. Even looking at the map, the optimum route does not appear obvious – a well planned event. My route was certainly far from optimum!

What did I gain from this you may ask – after all it was a ‘training exercise’. Well, apart from having a pleasant run (much more pleasant than running along the beach), I managed to simplify the map to remember 5 or 6 key parts on each loop and to use them to both navigate and relocate. With so much detail on many maps, it is often difficult to ignore the unimportant and identify only the important – like the control feature and attack point.

And how did the editor greet me after his return from the same course? – “You’re too fast, too young, and have got too good a memory”. It’s just a pity more people didn’t take the opportunity to get some valuable training in without the pressures of QOFL, League, Galoppen, Ranking Points, etc. I will be looking forward to more events of this type, and hope more of you will make good use of them.

Jim Mallinson