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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

Fossils- by the British Museum (Natural History)

A library for geologists…

‘Fossils’ series

by the British Museum (Natural History)

These three handbooks were issued by the (then) British Museum (Natural History) in the 1960s in response to calls for inexpensive, simple to understand, books to enable the identification of fossils found by the public.

Two pages from British Caenozoic Fossils

Two pages from British Caenozoic Fossils

Page from British Mesozoic Fossils

Page from British Mesozoic Fossils

It is remarkable that after half a century they still do their job very well. They don’t cover the subject of collecting or preserving, that was covered in a separate earlier volume. Instead, each volume concentrates on a particular geological era.

I have yet to encounter a modern volume that does the same job in a manner that renders these completely obsolete. The Natural History Museum has since published snappier looking up-to-date versions of the same three volumes but from what I can see, the content is still basically the same other than updated names being added.

Not particularly cheap, some earlier editions can be picked up for reasonable prices online if you are not too bothered about having the most up-to-date nomenclature. My three volumes cost between six shillings, and twelve shillings and sixpence when new, and no, I didn’t buy them at those prices.

Lets face it, for the great majority of us, the level of identification provided by these books is more than enough.

 

 

Two pages from British Palaeozoic Fossils

Two pages from British Palaeozoic Fossils

Books in featured image:

British Caenozoic Fossils, British Museum (Natural History). Second Edition- 1963

British Mesozoic Fossils, British Museum (Natural History). Third Edition- 1967

British Palaeozoic Fossils, British Museum (Natural History). Second Edition, 1966

Over the hills... by W. Keble Martin

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

Over the hills…

by W. Keble Martin

The Reverend William Keble Martin was born in 1877 and died 1969. For sixty of those years he spent countless hours making meticulous and devoted study of the British Flora. From schooling at Marlborough he went on to take a degree in Botany at Oxford. Following ordination, he worked as a curate or vicar in the north of England and during 1918 became Chaplain to the Armed Forces in France. Later, he moved to Devon. Any spare time and holidays were frequently spent travelling the length and breadth of the UK gathering specimens and sketching them on the train home.

He was 88 when his Concise British Flora in Colour was published and it became an immediate best seller. Such was his skill that in 1966 he was asked to design a set of postage stamps, these were issued in 1967. His work is intricate and beautiful. I stand in awe at his determination and attention to detail. Somehow he found time to also serve as an active member of the first Nature Reserves Committee. His autobiography, Over the Hills…, offers a glimpse of the gentle and humble man who’s interests lay not only in botany but all branches of natural history.

This is a gentle autobiography and is never going to set the world alight, it is not riveting nor does it offer great insight, it is a simple account of the life of one of the finest botanical illustrators this country has ever produced.

Keble Martin's Concise British Flora is an old book, sadly, some reprints reproduce his delicate, accurate and fine illustrations quite poorly. There is unlikely to be any other book that shows diagnostic features any better

Keble Martin’s Concise British Flora is an old book. Sadly, some reprints reproduce his delicate, accurate and fine illustrations quite poorly. Get a good copy, there is unlikely to be any other book that shows diagnostic features on plants any better

Book in featured image:

Over the Hills…, W. Kebel Martin. Martin Joseph Ltd. 1968. 0-7181-0548-6

Woodland Trust

Sign of the Month- Woodland Trust

Sign photographed in just one of the 1000 plus sites, covering over 26,000 hectares, cared for by the Woodland Trust. Nearly 350 of its sites contain ancient woodland of which 70 per cent is semi-natural ancient woodland – land which has been under tree cover since at least 1600. It also manages over 110 Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Founded in Devon, England in 1972 by Kenneth Watkins, a retired farmer. The Woodland Trust aims to see a United Kingdom rich in trees and woodland in which people can walk, cycle, picnic and play. The Charity protects and campaigns on behalf of woods. They plant trees and restore ancient woodland for the benefit of wildlife and people. 

38% of Europe is wooded. Just 13% of the UK by comparison. The Woodland Trust have planted 32 million trees since 1972. Their marvellous work continues.