NIOA Score and Night Championships 2020

Saturday 22th February 2020 (Event postponed from 8th February)

Information updated 21st Feb – see below for details of later starting times

Parking will be in the National Trust car park for Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple (Lion’s Brae).

Event Map

Event Fees for Night and Score            


Event Fees Senior Full-time Student Junior Family
Score Champs  £10 (£12) £5 (£6)  £5 (£6)  £25 (£30)
Night Champs £10 (£12) £5 (£6) £5 (£6) £25 (£30)
Score plus Night £16 (£18) £8 (£9) £8 (£9) £40 (£45)

The 2019/20 NI Orienteering prize giving will be held at approximately 15:30 in Castlerock.

NI Score Championships 2020


Registration will operate from 12:45 in NT Lion’s Gate car park (see map).

Mass Start (NB Later start 14:00)

The mass start will be at 14:00 (45 minutes time limit) inside the ruins of Downhill Castle! This is also the location for the Finish and is 5 minutes walk from the Lion’s Gate Car Park.

Warm-up is available along the foot path between Lion’s Gate entrance towards Bishop’s Gate beside the main A2 road (Downhill Forest is out of bounds until the night event).


M Open Senior Score
M40+ W Open Senior Score
M Super Vet 55+ W40+ Senior Score
M Ultra Vet 65+ W Super Vet 55+ W Ultra Vet 65+ Senior Score
M Junior 16- W Junior 16- Junior Score
M Junior 12- W Junior 12- Junior Score


There will be separate courses for Senior and Junior competitors. Junior courses are designed to stay away from the un-walled cliff edges and rough slopes to the east of the map.

The map is at 1:5000 scale and will be printed on waterproof paper. The Senior course will use two maps – printed on opposite sides of the paper.

All competitors will have 45 seconds to peruse their maps and plan their routes before starting.

Senior runners must also decide which map to start on, either Map A or B. Once decided competitors can change map sides after punching all or as many controls as they want, but cannot then revert back to their first map side.

Electric Fences

The National Trust are grazing cattle on a rotational strip system to improve grassland biodiversity. The grazed areas will be contained by electric fences and are out of bounds. These areas will be marked on your map with a purple out-of-bounds hatching.

Special feature – Ha-Ha

The area features a number of ‘invisible’ livestock barriers called ‘ha-has’ (the name supposedly deriving from the exclamation genteel visitors would have made when they discovered  them). Runners on the wrong side might make a different exclamation!
It is not recommended you try to cross them in either direction. The inset graphic above shows how they are represented on the map with a wall and steep slope symbol in parallel.

Crossing Points

The area has many pedestrian gates and permanent stiles. These are highlighted with the purple crossing symbol and must be used.

Fences and walls must not be climbed.

Competitor Safety (update 21st Feb)

Carrying a whistle is recommended. Cagoules will be required owing to very cold, wet and windy weather. Please note the area is extremely wet and slipply .

Terrain Notes

The Downhill Demesne map is made up of three distinct areas. Firstly a headland area of fast open parkland surrounding the castle with magnificent sea views. In the middle of the map a small wooded glen runs via an artificial lake to the sea. Finally the east section of the map is a second exposed headland but with much rougher vegetation and some contour detail.

Al’s Coffee Shack and Crusoe’s Coffee Shop

There is a permanent ‘coffee shack’ in the Lion’s Gate National Trust car park which serves hot drinks and snacks. If you are looking for an indoor lunch venue, Crusoe’s Coffee Shop, close to the prize giving in Castlerock, is also a good option.


There are good toilet facilities associated with the National Trust car park.


  1. Sections on the area are being rotation grazed with cattle, with low voltage electric fences being used to contain them. Do not cross these fences. The fences will be marked on the map with a purple out-of-bounds hatching.
  2. There are high sea cliffs to the north of the area. The area used by the Junior Score is bounded by a high stone wall. However, the headland visited by the Senior Score has no bounding wall and care should be taken, particular if the weather on the day is windy or misty.
  3. The area visited by the Senior Score features a number of steep narrow paths with stone steps. Take care particularly in wet conditions.
  4. Parents should be aware that the car park opens directly onto the busy A2 road.

NI Prize Giving

The NI Orienteering prize giving will be held at 15:30 in the Peter Thompson Hall, Castlerock (see map above).

NI Night Championships 2020


Registration for the night event will be at the Peter Thompson Hall from 16:45 to 17:30 (not at the forest)

Starts Times / Courses Close (please note later start times)

Starts from 17:50 -18:20 (or as soon as it is dark after 17:50).
Courses close 20:00 – please ensure you leave the forest by this time even if this means abandoning your course!

Course/Class Combinations

Course Classes
Long M Open 4.9km
Medium W Open,  M45+ 3.1km
Short W55+, M65+, M16, W16 2.1km

There are no classes below M/W16.  Please note that Night Orienteering is significantly more difficult than daytime running and is therefore not suitable for novice competitors.


Maps are at scale 1:5000, printed on waterproof paper – loose code descriptions in start lane.

Competitor Safety

Owing to the greater difficulty in locating an injured competitor in the dark, we will require runners to carry a whistle. We also strongly recommend wearing some form of reflective / fluorescent strips or panels to aid location. Cagoules may be required in extreme weather.

Update 20th February

Owing to recent persistent rain the main stream running through the area is swollen and potentially hazardous to cross – especially at night. The medium and long courses have a marked crossing point to avoid the stream which will be marked with florescent tape. This is now a compulsory crossing point.

Terrain Notes

Downhill Forest is an undulating mixed woodland with an extensive path and track network. The forest is mature and runability is generally good. There are some small areas of brambles and seasonal vegetation, but these should not prove a problem, particularly at this time of year.


  1. Downhill forest has a number of steep slopes which can be very slippy in wet conditions. Courses have been planned to avoid the worst of these, but extra care should be taken on slopes especially when descending!
  2. Mountain bikers have built a number of jumps and bridges / duck boarding using pallets and other pieces of wood. These are slippy and insecure and should not be run over.
  3. There are a lot of trees down over the small paths – please take extra care in the dark!
  4. There is a large lake with dam and weir in the centre of the area. Be aware and do not attempt to cross the lake or the weir outfall.
  5. There is a stream running through the map which is normally easy to cross. In the event of very heavy rain this stream could become deep and should not be crossed. If such weather does occur, competitors will be instructed not to wade the stream and use a nearby marked (fluorescent tape) crossing point instead.

Contact Us

If you are planning to bring a group or have any other queries, please use the form below to let us know.

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    Organiser: Rachel Reid
    Planner: Des Fletcher
    Controller: Charlie Reid

    Date(s) - 22nd Feb 2020
    11:00 - 20:00

    Downhill Forest

    Event Type

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