Tag Archives: navigation

Sorting through the trip piles

Still sorting out…

Have you noticed how maps, guides, books and notes can begin to accumulate into little, and not so little, piles of ‘important planning resources’ over time.

My attempt at sorting out some of those piles has continued into a second day. Once Mrs Three Points of the Compass is happy with how much the accumulated ‘stuff’ has been reduced and sorted, I’ll try and get round to a post or two on a couple of these little adventures. One from earlier in the year, one still to come.

Legible London

Sign of the month… Legible London

 

Legible London

On 27 November 2007, the first prototype of a new design of street signage went ‘live’ in the West End of London. Just about every London Borough now has a number of the distinguishable, tall, upright and informative signs. These form part of the Legible London sign network. Integrated into the transport network, there are over 1700 of the signs providing information for pedestrians, on streets, local buildings, places of interest and bus routes, and enables those exiting London Underground stations to quickly orientate themselves. Circles on the maps indicate a walking time between places, ranging from 5 to 15 minutes. Note the small directional ‘north’ arrow set in to the base of the sign.

South, by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton

A library for those who hike in the shadow of giants…

South

Ernest Shackleton

“For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organisation, give me Scott; for a Winter Journey, Wilson; for a dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen: and if I am in the devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time”

Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World

If ever there was a boyhood hero, then Ernest Shackleton was mine. Such qualities and achievements to aspire to- expedition leader, navigator, single minded, resourceful, determined, famous traveller and adventurer, epic failure- OK, perhaps not the last. But still, a national hero.

Part of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration Shackleton made various journeys to the Antarctic. After accompanying Scott on part of his Discovery Expedition (1901-1903), Shackleton led the Nimrod Expedition (1907-1909) followed by the ‘Endurance‘ Expedition (1914-1917). Leaving aside his final incomplete Quest Expedition, on which he died of a heart attack aged 47, at South Georgia, the sensational Endurance expedition of 1914-1917 was, and is, the stuff of legend.

In 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton announced to the world his intention to trek 1800 miles from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the South Pole. However the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition became something entirely different, a fight for survival.

South is beautifully presented and the evocative photographs taken by the young Frank Hurley compliment Shackleton's diary account admirably

South is beautifully presented and the evocative photographs taken by the young Frank Hurley compliment Shackleton’s diary account admirably. Accompanying images add to the authority of this volume

His ship Endurance became ice-locked for several months before being crushed by the ice and sinking. Forced to take to the ice, Shackleton and his crew of twenty-eight were adrift on an ice floe so had to take to sea off the tip of the Antarctic peninsula on lifeboats reaching Elephant Island five days later. On an isolated island with no hope of rescue, Shackleton and five others later navigated their way across open sea and landed at South Georgia Island after 720 miles.

“We would take three days’ provision for each man in the shape of sledging rations and biscuit…then we were to take the Primus lamp filled with oil, the small cookers, the carpenter’s adze (for use as an ice axe), and the alpine rope, which made a total length of fifty feet when knotted… the carpenter assisted me in putting several screws in the sole of each boot with the object of providing a grip on the ice”

Ernest Shackleton, preparing for the journey across the mountains of South Georgia

Shackleton and two others then made the first land crossing on foot of the island in order to reach help at the whaling station at Stromness. He was then able to return and rescue the remainder of his men from Elephant Island, later also rescuing another party from the expedition, the Ross Sea Party stranded in McMurdo Sound.

The title says it all! South is a more lavishly illustrated version of the excellent earlier volume Endurance by Alfred Lansing

The title says it all! South is a more lavishly illustrated version of the excellent earlier volume Endurance by Alfred Lansing

It is a gripping and thrilling story. The book shown at the head of this post is the best illustrated account I have come across. South is a first person account by Shackleton, accompanied by photographs from Frank Hurley, the expedition photographer and paintings by expedition leader George Marston. The whole book is also enlivened by modern colour photographs. It is not just Shackleton’s story, but of survival in the face of death and of all the resourceful and brave men on the expedition.

There have been many accounts of Shackelton's life and expeditions by both expedition memembers and later historians. Possibly the best biography of the man himself though, was by Roland Huntford

There have been many accounts of Shackelton’s life and expeditions by both expedition members and later historians. Possibly the best biography of the man himself though, was by Roland Huntford

Book in featured image:

South. The Illustrated story of Shackleton’s last expedition 1914-1917. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton. Zenith Press, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group. 2016. ISBN 978 0 7603 5025 6

Playing with numbers

The Fibonacci Sequence- useful maths for hiking

The Fibonacci Sequence is the series of numbers where the next number is found by adding up the two numbers before it. A simple sequence-

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, 4181, 6765, 10946, et al…

Living in the UK, the default unit of distance for Three Points of the Compass is the mile, however many people prefer to work with kilometres. I agree that it is a much handier unit. But how to convert the one to the other? With an acceptance of a small (very small) margin of error, the Fibonacci Sequence is a pretty useful aid. Look at the numbers above.

There are eight kilometres in five miles (precisely- 8.04672 kilometres), and conversely, five miles in eight kilometres. It continues, fifty five miles equates to eighty nine miles (OK- 88.5139, but near enough).

If you want to convert a number that is not in the sequence, simply add together numbers in the sequence that total the required distance. i.e. if I have a distance of forty five miles to cover over a couple of days, this could be broken down into 21 + 21 + 3 from the Fibonacci Sequence. This gives me 34 + 34 + 5 = 73. Actually forty five miles equals 72.4205 kilometres exactly, so a pretty good fit. And remember, this also works in reverse. The answer is never more than half a percent out from true distance.

A handy bit of math, isn’t it?

 

 

Three books by Ffyona Campbell record her walking exploits

A library for those who hike in the shadow of giants…

Ffyona Campbell

“… the question of motive came up again and again and again. I wished to God I knew the answer because the question was really starting to bug me. ‘Because it’s there’ was Sir Edmund Hillary’s reason for climbing Everest. ‘To pay the bills’ was how Sir Ranulph Fiennes dealt with it. ‘To impress girls at parties’ was the reason Robert Swan gave for walking to the South Pole. The underlying need for men to seek adventure almost lets them off the psycho hook. but for women there must be a darker reason. Since humility was beyond my ken, and humour in the face of self-inflicted pain was a taboo in my mind, and so too the admission of the real reasons, I opted for something rather twisted, but partially true: ‘To gain my father’s respect.’

Ffyona Campbell, The Whole Story

Three books by Ffyona Campbell record her walking exploits. I have them all. They sit alongside the three dozen or so others I have, from various authors, that document in various degrees of readability, the quite amazing exploits of individuals a step away from the ‘norm’.

Many people have raved about Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: a journey from lost to found, how she found and came to terms with herself through her trekking exploits. Personally, I hated the book. I identify far more with the searing honesty and personality of Ffyona Campbell as laid out in these three volumes, even if I cannot approve of her failings, any more than she does herself.

Two pages from the paperback version of Ffyona Campbell's autobiography The Whole Story. Needless to say, her account of her 1000 mile walk from John O'Groats to Lands End at the age of sixteen is a small part of the book, covered in just eight pages including the sketch map

Two pages from the paperback version of Ffyona Campbell’s autobiography The Whole Story. Needless to say in a book that covers her global circumnavigation, her account of her walk from John O’Groats to Lands End at the age of sixteen is a small part of the book, covered in just eight pages including the sketch map

The Whole Story, a walk around the world is her autobiography, an honest account that will upset some of those who read it and inspire others. Yes, you will read of the lie, her explanation of how it came about, how it helped make her the woman she is, and how she returned to face it.

Books in featured image:

Feet of Clay, her epic walk across Australia, Ffyona Campbell. William Heinemann, 1991. ISBN 0 434 10692 5

On foot through Africa, Ffyona Campbell. Orion, 1994. ISBN 9 781 85797 946 6

The Whole Story, a walk around the world, Ffyona Campbell. Orion, 1996. ISBN 0 75280 109 0

The Wealden District- British Geological Survey

A library for geologists…

British Regional Geology

The Wealden District

by British Geological Survey

A personal library is just that, personal. I live in the South East of England so make a point of having a geological guide specific to my region as it is over this ground that I most frequently hike.

The first edition of The Wealden District was written in 1934 and it was only following resurveying of the region by the Geological Survey that additional information and important, newly learnt, detail (partly resulting from oil exploration) that rewritten and revised editions followed.

The Geological Survey has undertaken considerable survey work in Great Britain and Northern Ireland and a noteworthy series of publications has been a part result. Some are now POD (Print On Demand) while others are still available as the original published works.

Sample page from The Wealden District by British Regional Geology

Sample page from The Wealden District by British Geological Survey

Containing maps, diagrams, sections and photographs, all of these guides give a comprehensive description of their respective regions and can only add to an understanding of the terrain through which we travel. Useful geological summaries are also available to download. Three Points of the Compass is going to find these incredibly useful as crib sheets on next years Long Walk.

Book shown in featured image:

British Regional Geology, The Wealden District. R.W. Gallois et. al., British Geological Survey. Fourth impression 1992, Fourth edition 1965, First published 1935. ISBN 0-11-884078-9

Ranulph Fiennes, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

A library for those who hike in the shadow of giants…

 

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

The autobiography

Ranulph Fiennes

“The answer was obvious. The useless finger ends must be cut off at once, so they could no longer get in the way and hit things. I tried tentatively to cut though the smallest finger with a new pair of secateurs, but it hurt. So I purchased a set of fretsaw blades at the village shop, put the little finger in my Black & Decker folding table’s vice and gently sawed through the dead skin and bone just above the live skin line. The moment I felt pain or spotted blood, I moved the saw further into the dead zone. I also turned the finger around several times to cut it from different sides, like sawing a log. This worked well and the little finger’s end knuckle finally dropped off after two hours of work. Over the next week I removed the other three longer fingers, one each day, and finally the thumb, which took two days”

Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes OBE, 3rd Baronet, has been described by the Guinness Book of Records as the ‘World’s greatest living explorer‘. Above, he describes the time he removed the frost bitten fingers he sustained on a solo, unsupported attempt on the North Pole. He was the first person to travel to both poles on land, also the first to cross Antarctica on foot. He was also awarded the Polar Medal in 1986 and is the only person to hold a double clasp for that medal.

His adventures astound- he is the oldest Briton to have climbed Mount Everest and despite his fear of heights, ascended the north face of the Eiger. Four months after a heart attack and undergoing a double heart bypass, he completed seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Throughout this life of adventure, he has used his exploits to raise over £14 million for various charities. and was awarded an OBE in 1993 for ‘human endeavour and for charitable causes’.

Ranulph Fiennes often embarks on speaking tours and Three Points of the Compass was thrilled to sit amongst a captivated audience to hear, just a few, of his exploits. Fiennes also used this platform to passionately defend the reputation of Captain Robert Falcon Scott

Ranulph Fiennes often embarks on speaking tours and Three Points of the Compass was thrilled to sit amongst a captivated audience to hear, just a few, of his exploits, such as the first hovercraft expedition up the Nile, the discovery of the Lost City of Ubar and his 52,000 mile circumnavigation of the world via both poles. Fiennes also used this platform to passionately defend the reputation of Captain Robert Falcon Scott

Book in featured image:

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know, The autobiography. Ranulph Fiennes. Hodder & Stoughton, 2007. ISBN 9780 340 95168 2