Tag Archives: path

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?

 

 

Laurie Lee- As I walked out one Midsummer Morning

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

As I walked out one Midsummer Morning

Laurie Lee

“I was in Spain, and the new life beginning. I had a few shillings in my pocket and no return ticket, I had a knapsack, blanket, spare shirt and a fiddle, and enough words to ask for a glass of water… I suddenly felt the urge to get moving. So I cut the last cord and changed my shillings for pesetas, bought some bread and fruit, left the seaport behind me and headed straight for the open country”

Between the Wars, the nineteen year old author set off across Depression hit England carrying a tent, a violin and a box of treacle biscuits. He followed this with a wander through sun beaten Spain, to the coast of Andalusia, relying for the greater part, on his violin for sustenance, and the one Spanish phrase he knew- ‘a glass of water please?

“I spent the first night in a grove of oak trees, lying on leaves as wet as Wales, under a heavy dew and a cold sharp moon and surrounded by the continuous bells of sheep. In the morning I woke shivering to eat a breakfast of goat’s cheese, which the night had soaked and softened, then watched the sunlight move slowly down the trunks of the pine trees, dark red, as though they bled from the top. Nearby was a waterfall pouring into a bowl of rock, where I stripped and took a short sharp bathe. It was snow-cold, brutal and revivifying, secluded among the trees, and when I’d finished I sat naked on a mossy stone, slowly drying in the rising sun”

Sleeping in fields, olive groves and courtyards, the man made his mistakes happily, and equally as happily accepted fortuitous serendipity when encountered. He enjoyed both great kindness and hospitality, yet saw tragedy and the dark underbelly of a country heading toward its own awful civil war.

“I saw a little farmhouse and knocked on the door. It was opened by a young man with a rifle who held up a lantern to my face. I noticed he was wearing the Republican armband. ‘I’ve come to join you.’ I said. ‘Pase usted,’ he answered. I was back in Spain, with a winter of war before me”

Book in featured image:

As I walked out one Midsummer Morning, Laurie Lee. Andre Deutsch, 1969

Two very different books on the making of a landscape

A library for historians…

The  British Landscape

 “to care about a place, you must know its story”

Nicholas Crane

I could just have easily posted these books under my section- ‘a library for geologists…‘, but they are both as much, if not more, about the people that inhabit a landscape. The two volumes look at a similar subject but approach and share it with the reader in different ways.

The first is very much a scholarly work, but don’t let that put you off. Nicholas Crane is an excellent writer and communicator who may visit again in this series of books from my library. I thoroughly recommend The Making of the British Landscape to just about anyone. The author is proficient in explaining meticulously researched detail in an accessible manner. It is a hefty volume, and all the better for it. Sub-titled ‘From the Ice Age to the Present’, that is an ambitious target and the bigger picture is broken down in to the step-changes that have shaped this country and its people.

Page from The Making of the British Landscape

Page from The Making of the British Landscape

 

“Our country is like a historical onion: layers and layers of human endeavour, overlaid and overgrown, but still visible”

Mary-Ann Ochota

I was unaware of Mary-Ann Ochota’s writing before I came to her ‘Spotter’s Guide‘. I had seen her co-presenting of Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ but it is mostly through reliance on her formal training in anthropology and archaeology that this book has been produced. It is a very accessible book that looks at big and noticeable features and then attempts to explain them, usually quite successfully in a series of chapters- Lumps and Bumps, Stones, Lines, and, In the Village.

A selection from Mary-Ann Ochota's chapter on Lines

A selection from Mary-Ann Ochota’s chapter on Lines in her book Hidden Histories

Books in featured image:

The Making of the British Landscape, From the Ice Age to the Present. Nicholas Crane. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2016. ISBN 978 0 297 85666 5

Hidden Histories, a spotter’s guide to the British Landscape. Mary-Ann Ochota. Francis Lincoln, 2016. ISBN 978 0 7112 3692 9

Harley book on Dragonflies of Great Britain and Ireland

A library for naturalists…

Odonata

Horse-stingers‘ and ‘Devil’s Darning Needles‘, the old names for Dragonflies and Damselflies, are frequently encountered on my walks in the summer months. Be it the Common Hawker over reedy ponds and lakes, the magnificent Emperor Dragonfly seeing off intruders, including me, along river and canal edges, a Southern Hawker along my grassy paths and lanes, the quite stunningly beautiful Banded Demoiselle feebly fluttering beside slow water, the…. the list goes on.

The colour plates by C.O. Hammond are expertly and precisely drawn. He made a lifetime study of British dragonflies

The twenty colour plates by C.O. Hammond show all the British species via 182 colour figures and are expertly and precisely drawn. The result of a lifetime study of British dragonflies

This book is probably all that anyone requires if interested in British Dragonflies and Damselflies (it includes both). It gives a good introduction to the life history of these beasties, including that part below water which few of us ever see, yet forms by far the greater part of the life cycle of these magnificent insects.

Maps are useful as a guide but there has been both under-reporting for some species and either contraction or expansion of range for some. Few would be confused by the clear descriptions included

Maps are useful as a guide but there has been both under-reporting for some species and either contraction or expansion of range for some. Few would be confused by the clear descriptions included

Living in Kent, I find the more localised detail on Odonata useful. Similar publications can be found for many counties

Living in Kent, I find more localised detail on Odonata species useful. Similar publications can be found for many counties

For those who prefer a photographic guide, less useful that they are, the small volume from Bob Gibbons includes good quality images, of both male and female when dissimilar in appearance, most photographs were taken by the author

For those who prefer a photographic guide, less useful that they are, the small volume from Bob Gibbons includes good quality images, of both male and female when dissimilar in appearance, most photographs were taken by the author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book in featured image:

The Dragonflies of Great Britain and Ireland. Cyril O. Hammond, revised by Robert Merritt. Harley Books, 2nd edition 1985. ISBN 0 946589 14 3

 

 

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

Castles

A library for historians…

Castles and Hillforts

If there is one thing the United Kingdom abounds in, it is castles and hillforts. While they may not be encountered on most walks, many a long distance trail will likely be passing close to one, or former location of one. Don’t believe me? Look at your map. Over a thousand castles were built in the century following the Norman Conquest and in 1962 the Ordnance Survey recorded some 1366 hillforts and associated earthworks.

My tiny little 66 page book from HMSO is a good, if old, introduction to the salient points of castles

My tiny little 66 page book from HMSO is a good, if old, introduction to the salient points of castles

These two books in the Shire Archaeology Series concentrate on fortifications outside those already mentioned

These two books in the Shire Archaeology Series concentrate on fortifications outside those already mentioned

I only have a handful of reference books to castles and forts on my bookshelves, but they stand me in good stead when combined with local information and what can be found online. I have slipped a lovely little volume on Hillforts by James Dyer into this post as, in my mind at least, they fulfilled a similar function to the castles that followed.

The Shire Archaeology book on Roman Forts by David J Breeze looks at forts, fortresses, fortlets, watch-towers and signal towers from the first to the fourth century. A book from the same series by J N G Ritchie concentrates on those strange iron age brochs found in north and west Scotland.

But if you really want the detail on medieval castles, then the A-Z reference book from Sutton Publishing is where to go. It is no book to read cover to cover, more to dip in to. Particularly useful is how the detail is put into historical context.

Author James Dyer really knows his subject. A lecturer in archaeology, he has studied hillforts and includes detail on two personally excavated by him in this handy little volume

Author James Dyer really knows his subject. A lecturer in archaeology, he has studied hillforts and includes detail on two personally excavated by him in this handy little volume

Passing through Barbury Castle, an Iron Age Hillfort, on the Ridgeway

Three Points of the Compass passed through Barbury Castle, an Iron Age Hillfort, when walking the Ridgeway

Detail from Stephen Friars book on castles

Detail from Stephen Friars book on castles

Three Points of the Compass beginning the 'Long Walk' to Windsor Castle on the London Countryway

Three Points of the Compass beginning the ‘Long Walk’ to Windsor Castle on the London Countryway

 

 

 

Books in featured image:

The Sutton Companion to Castles, Stephen Friar. Sutton Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0 7509 2744 5

Castles, an introduction to the castles of England and Wales, B.H.St. JO’Neil. HMSO. Ninth impression 1971, first published 1954

Hillforts of England and Wales, James Dyer. Shire Publications, 2003. ISBN 0 7478 0180 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