No, not a spelling mistake, this really was a trial of the new map of the National Trust property of Dinton Park and Phillips House produced by Liz and Alan Yeadon. The original intent was to install a permanent O course in the Park. This is still an objective but the National Trust, through the local NT Ranger Paul Rowland, is enthusiastic about the park being used for club orienteering events and activities. Considering what the Club has managed to achieve in our other small areas over the years Dinton Park offers scope for a range of different event types possibly, given electronic punching, a limited colour coded event.
Philipps House, formerly called Dinton House, was built between 1814 and 1817 for William Wyndham (1769-1841). Designed by Sir Jeffry Wyatville (1766-1840), the house is strikingly simple, deliberately conservative and grand, making it clear that the Wyndhams of Dinton were an old family of some standing. History is also well-represented from a small Iron Age hill fort – Wick Ball Camp – to WW2 when the house was used by the American army and Nissen huts and tents sprouted throughout the park.
Phillips House nestles between a wooded ridge and the open parkland and is possibly one of Wiltshire’s best kept secrets. The park is open to the public and has several rights of way crossing but the house is not open and is in need of a major and costly refurbishment. The contours and trees provide the open park with a unique and interesting character that immediately offers interest to the eye of an orienteer. There are also some small areas of woodland including that on the steep hillside behind the House. There is a variety of extensive views across the park and wider landscape; on a clear day from the highest point in the park the spire of Salisbury Cathedral can be seen and even beyond.
As part of the current bonding process Sarum happily agreed to put on an orienteering-related activity as part of a National Trust Ranger Conference held at Dinton over two days in early September. This was alongside other rural pursuits such as flint knapping, arrow making and tree climbing and generally having a good time together. Liz and Alan planned some basic training to familiarise the rangers with O-maps and symbols before taking on a selection of short (1k) courses with the option of a score course for those feeling confident and/or competitive.
The hot and exhausted NT rangers lying around gasping by the end was evidence not only that this was a very hot day in a very hot week but that some had mastered the necessary skills and enjoyed the challenges of the courses.
After collecting in all our gear we were treated to tea and coffee and a selection of rather scrumptious cakes.
The day showed the orienteering potential of Dinton Park and helped build a friendly relationship with the local National Trust Team. The next challenge is to devise a suitable event for orienteers to experience this new, if compact, area.