Plans for an orienteering course in Sherborne began back in 2019 as a conversation between the Grove Practice Patient Participation Group (PPG) and the Health Programme Advisor for the North Dorset Locality. Funding was supplied by North Dorset Public Health, Sherborne Town Council and Sherborne Market to facilitate the creation of a course and printing the maps which are covered in a coating so they can be returned and reused.

Over the following two and half years, PPG members worked with Wimborne Orienteers, Wessex Orienteers, Dorset Council Rangers and Sherborne Primary Care Network on creating two courses for the town. A smaller 2.5km course was created encompassing the town centre, more historical part of the town, which was more easily accessible for the less mobile, and a larger 5km course which covers the north, south, east and western part of the town. There was a lot of research and leg work involved!

The orienteering courses were launched at the end of June 2022 with maps being kept at the start point of the library and in two other locations. The courses can be covered using just a map, or a map and a smart phone. There is an app for smartphones (MapRun6) that participants can use and the phone will “beep” at several log in points around the course. When the course is finished, it will be logged onto a national database which will show how many people have completed the course. People travel all over the country just to do these courses which shows how successful the courses have been since their launch.

Patient Participation Groups are run by volunteers and work alongside practice teams within GP surgeries. As well as providing feedback to practices on the services it provides and helping get information out to the wider patient population, groups work on projects which bring health and wellbeing benefits to their fellow patients. You can get involved in your local group by talking to your practice reception team or by contacting