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Margam Park is a great place to learn the skills of map reading. In the park there is a series of 7 orienteering courses.  They vary in complexity from fairly easy to advanced.

YouTube clip of Orienteering at Margam

Why not start with the first and work your way through them?

Additional information is provided in an Orienteering pack available directly from the Park.

Sheet Course A Colour Length  1.7km Level
1 A Yellow (Short) 1.7km Fairly Easy
1  Yellow (Long) 2.4km   Fairly Easy
2 C Orange 3.4km Medium
3 D Red (Short) 4.8km Medium
3 E Red
5.5km Medium
4 F Light Green 3.7km Fairly Difficult
5 G Green 3.6km Difficult

Other forms of Orienteering for competition and training


The seven courses available in the Park’s Orienteering Pack are of the form known as ‘cross-country’. The courses are progressive, from ‘fairly easy’ for novices, to ‘difficult’ designed for people with experience. They can provide the basis for competitions, or they can be enjoyed purely as a personal challenge to find the controls efficiently without worrying about the time element. Stop to enjoy the views whenever you wish - but don’t forget where you are on the map!

The following forms of orienteering are suitable for groups looking for competition and training in Margam Park. You will need to download copies of the ‘All Controls’ orienteering map and the control descriptions that accompany this section.

File type Document File size
doc Margam Country Park All Controls Map. Control descriptions 49 KB


The start and finish of any one activity should be in the same place, but you can select the location anywhere on the map to vary the controls that can be visited. The organiser must make sure the selected start/finish is marked on each map in use. Bear in mind that the higher the number allocated to the controls on the map, the harder it is to find.


SCORE Event.   In this, competitors visit as many controls as they can in a given time and in any order. If they are late returning they forfeit, say, one control for each minute, or part, late. It is usual to have a mass start; the field soon splits up. A refinement of this form is for the organiser to allocate points to each control based on its distance away or the difficulty finding it. Near controls could be 10 points and distant ones 50 points, with intermediate ones scoring pro rata. Typical time allowance would be 40 to 60 minutes. Timing competitors back in could be important to decide the winner if some have equal scores.

RELAY Races.   A very exciting form of the sport in which competitors race head to head. For teams of three. The first runners in each team all start together but will be running three different courses. On their return they hand over to the second runner in their team; the map acts as the baton. By now, the field will be split, with the runners chasing each other yet not knowing which loop their rivals are on. The second runner hands over to the third, and the team with its third-leg runner finishing first is the winner (provided all three have visited all the correct controls).

Preparations:  Pre-plan three different loop-like courses which will take about 20 minutes each to run. There can be several common controls between the courses. Label the loops A, B and C and prepare control cards for each loop as many as there are teams, which state the identifying number of the controls to be visited and their descriptions; there also needs to be space to record the codes of the markers as they are visited. Each team must run all three loops but in random order. Control cards can be handed out shortly before the start; competitors should not communicate their contents to other teams. The maps are handed to first leg runners when they are lined up ready to start.

Training Exercises:

These have a competitive element which sharpens the mental processes of map reading and route choice decisions, and provides motivation for physical effort.

The basic techniques for orienteering are set out in the Park’s orienteering pack and can be practised on the ground under non-competitive conditions. The competitions then provide practice and drive home the techniques.

Star Relay.  Divide the group into pairs. Select as many controls as there are pairs, to form a ring about 500m in diameter around the start/finish location (this itself could be a control). Provide a control card as in the Relay race above, one for each runner, and one map per pair. There is a mass start of the first runner from each pair. The member from pair no.1 visits  control 1 on the control card then returns to the start and hands over the map to his/her partner who does the same thing. On their return, the first runner sets off for the second control, and so on. Meanwhile, pair no. 2 starts by visiting the second control, and so on, down through the list and finishing by visiting control 1. The remaining teams are similarly staggered. Thus all runners visit all the controls but are rarely clashing with each other. The first pair to have correctly completed the star course are the winners. Six to eight controls are sufficient. If you have more teams than this, they can form a second wave, starting 2 minutes after the first set.  

Loops.  This is an individuals exercise. Each competitor will need a map and control card. Plan a roughly circular course of about eight controls around a start location. Allocate each of the eight runners with a different first control. Use a mass start. From their first control all runners turn clockwise (or anti-clockwise) to go around the course, ending up at their first control, then running in to the start/finish. If there are more than eight runners, set off the remainder in waves at 4 minute intervals.

Further Orienteering Opportunities:

If you have enjoyed orienteering at Margam Country Park you might like to visit other permanent courses in this general area. This will provide you with an interesting variety of terrain, and offer an opportunity to practise map reading and orienteering techniques.

The local club, Swansea Bay Orienteering Club, organises events throughout the year and their fixture list can be found on th club's website at


Postcode / Grid ref.

Maps from:

Courses #

Neath/Port Talbot (1)




Gnoll Estate Country Park

01639 635808

SA11 3BS/ SS766977

Visitor Centre

AC, 5 courses TD1-4

Afan Argoed Countryside Centre     01639 850864

SA13 3HG/SS821950

Visitor Centre

AC TD1-4





Swansea (2)




Singleton Park

SA2 8PY / SS629927


AC, 3 courses TD1-3

Bishops Wood,

Caswell Bay

SA3 4RH / SS594877


Council website

AC, 3 courses TD1-3

Mumbles Hill

Bracelet Bay

SA3 4JT / SS627872

Council website

AC, 3 courses TD1-3

Dunvant Brickworks,

off Walters Row



Council website

AC, 3 courses TD1-3

Kilvey Community Wood- land, Jersey Rd

SA1 7DG / SS676956

Council website

AC, 3 courses TD1-3

Llewellyn Park,

off Trewydda Road

SA6 3PB / SS661966

Council website

AC, 3 courses TD1-3

Morriston Park,

off Vicarage Rd

SA6 6DH / SS665983

Council website

AC, 3 courses TD1-3

Castle Wood,


SA3 4BA / SS616883

Council website


Brynmill Park

SA2 0HB/ SS635926

Council website


Cwmdonkin Park

SA2 0PP / SS639932

Council website


Coedbach Park,


SA4 8LG / SN594032

Council website


Coed Gwilym Park,


SA6 5NS / SN701016

Council website


Heol Las Park,


SA7 9LT / SS700984

Council website


Llys Nini, RSPCA Animal Centre, Penllergaer (5)

SA4 9AY / SS609995


01792 229435

AC; 3 courses TD2,3





Carmarthenshire (3)




Pembrey Country Park

SA16 0EJ/ SN410006

Visitor Centre

01554 833913

AC, 6 courses TD1-5

Mynydd Mawr Woodland Park, Tumble


Visitor Centre

01269 843911

AC; 5 courses TD1-4

Ynys Dawela Park




AC; 3 courses TD1-3

Dolaucothi Estate (National Trust), Pumpsaint

SA19 8US/SN656405

Gold mine visitor centre

AC, 5 coursesTD2,3









Penrhos, Ystradgynlais (4)

01639 843711

SA9 1QX /SN795108



AC TD2,3

#  AC = ‘All controls’ map available for self-selection of controls to be visited, or for use with suggested courses. Some areas offer separate maps for each course.

TD = Technical difficulty, ie 1 = easy (for young novices); 

2 = fairly easy (for novices in general);

3 = moderate (for inexperienced adults and those progressing from TD2; 

4 =  fairly difficult (a good grounding at TD3 is necessary); 

5 = difficult (broad experience necessary)

(1)  Neath Port Talbot CBC website:

(2)  Swansea City Council website:

(3)  Carmarthenshire website:

(4)  Contact:

(5)  Llys Nini RSPCA Animal Centre website:

(6)  Maps from the visitor centre at Mynydd Mawr Woodland Park, tel 01269 843911

Acknowledgements:  This orienteering facility was established in association with Swansea Bay Orienteering Club which provided the map, surveyed and drawn by Simon Beck. The courses were planned by Peter Seward who also compiled the notes on orienteering techniques and further orienteering opportunities.