Tag Archives: route

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

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

 

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.

Farthing Downs

Sign of the Month- Farthing Downs

Farthing Downs are both scheduled ancient monument and the largest area of semi-natural downland left in Greater London. Within easy reach for Londoners, such pockets of land require stringent legislation to continue their protection.

The Site of Special Scientific Interest is situated in Coulsdon in the London Borough of Croydon and is managed by the City of London. This was the first section of the London LOOP to be opened, the trail runs straight through the centre of the chalk grassland.

Set into the signpost is a small disc for the Downlands Circular Walk; a popular short walk of three or six miles based around Farthing Downs and neighbouring Happy Valley