The Long Distance Walk

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GEW-mapDuring 2010 and 2011 I completed a six hundred mile walk along a published but little known trail. That walk was created by Margaret and Brian Nightingale and walked by them in 1996/7 to write the two books that describe the route. This walk starts from Chepstow, the Welsh border town on the Severn estuary, and ends at Berwick upon Tweed a town on the east coast of England north of the Tweed, a river, which for many miles forms the boundary with Scotland. They called it ‘The Great English Walk’.

It was the most memorable walk I have ever done taking in some remarkable locations many off the beaten track for both tourists and other walkers. The introduction to the guides explained that the only decent map available at that time was the Ordnance Survey ‘Pathfinder’ which predated the much improved ‘Explorer’ series of the same 1:25,000 scale and detail but smaller sheets. To purchase all those required for the whole route would have been very expensive so I admired and wondered how Margaret and Brian had created such a wonderful walk.

I have spent many hours pouring over maps searching for points of interest to devise day walks but only used routes planned by others when tackling longer walks. I wanted to create my own long distance walk and with computerised mapping I could now do this from the comfort of home and convenience of not taking over the dining table.

Creating a long walk immediately results in questions and compromise. How long should it be? Where does the walk start and where does it end? What is the purpose of the walk? To answer the last question first I replace purpose with theme because purpose is perhaps personal and varied for the designer as well as those who follow. A walk needs a theme in order to promote it and perhaps encourage others to use it.

The first step is to draw a line on the map between the start and finish which may be miles apart or at the same location, if the walk is circular. Next I needed to locate other points of interest along the way which I should try to include and then areas that I might want to avoid.

To enhance the theme and add interest I decided to include villages closest to the line and I have managed to include seventy four settlements. These were marked up on the map. All this information can be saved in layers and displayed over base maps of different scales, allowing either an overall view or close scrutiny at the click of the mouse.

Next the real works begins when I look for paths to create the walk. Read part 2 click here

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