Changes

I have always tried to involve readers in decisions about this blog, but the poll regarding which navigation app I should use was inconclusive. I will therefore try to continue using both Viewranger and Outdooractive for now.

Because I need to focus on work after a period of settling in to my new home in Scotland, I will be shifting back to the free wordpress plan, so you may notice some changes from the end of this month when my domain will revert to rucksackrosie.wordpress.com. All being well I hope to continue writing up my long distance walking here in this beautiful country.

Rucksack Rose – First Avatars 2012.

Viewranger or Outdooractive?

I have been experimenting with both navigation apps for the last six months on my Edinburgh Exploits, City Strolls and Leith Loping routes which are regularly added to. The difference is that if I continue to record routes on Viewranger, they can easily be synched with Outdooractive, but people don’t get the additional features for creators or users. If I record my routes on Outdooractive, then Viewranger becomes a thing of the past. This leaves people who use my routes there to have access to my historic routes only, unless they move across to Outdooractive.

A quick reminder that Viewranger had two subscription tiers – Free and Premium, whereas Outdooractive has three subscription tiers – Basic, which is free, Pro, or Pro Plus. Further information is available on their websites. Remember also that the Viewranger app is no longer updating but is retaining existing routes.

To help me make the decision about which app to choose, or whether to struggle on with both, I have created this poll which will remain open until the 31st August 2021 after which I will announce the results. I welcome your views in the poll and via the moderated comments as I know some users, including myself, are still feeling cheesed off with losing their Viewranger maps bought in good faith.

Warning: Location based apps may be abused by gang stalkers.

..and breathe

Finally, after months of lockdown walking in and around the city (see Edinburgh Exploits, City Strolls and Leith Loping)) I finally made it back into the hills outwith Edinburgh for the first time since the end of February last year, and what a relief it was! My cabin fever had become really severe, and I did often dream of just taking off with my backpack. Sense finally prevailed following a nightmare in which I was featured in the tabloid papers as a dangerous miscreant.

Anyway, I hope you are surviving, and here are some pics of my walk with friends in Midlothian this week – which is a start.

International Women’s Day

Happy hiking to women walkers on this International Women’s Day 🌹

Rob Roy Way near Aberfoyle, Scotland

Respite Routes

I have added two new sections to my Edinburgh walks called City Strolls and Leith Loping which began with some of my lockdown walks around the city. They are mainly linear routes under 5 miles which could be made longer by returning to your starting point. They would suit anyone who just wants to get out of the house for exercise and a bit of vitamin D. These routes avoid busy roads as much as possible, and are all accessible by public transport or on foot. Although I have suspended video making during the last year, GPX routes are available from my Outdooractive or Viewranger sites.

Hopefully following the rules until we get the vaccine will mean that walkers and outdoor users can expect a return to some kind of normality soon.

Don’t forget to refresh your website links with my new domain rucksackrosie.com with an i.

Scottish Day Walks

For information, I have divided up my Scottish day walks into geographical walks and themed walks.

Under geographical walks so far there are some new sections entitled Border Beats, Edinburgh Exploits, City Strolls and Leith Loping. Under themed walks there is a section called Perthshire Protection about outdoor conservation work. I look forward to adding to and expanding all these in the fullness of time. Although I have suspended the video making during the pandemic, you can check out my Outdooractive / Viewranger route collection.

Looking across towards the Cairngorms from the Speyside Way near Aviemore

Obviously the walks I can do at the moment are limited by the present restrictions, but they may appeal to other people in the same situation.

Creating a walk

Having created a long distance route from a map for a challenge event, I was reminded that following pre-existing routes with signs, guides, waymarks, apps and other hikers for company is reassuring and even soporific at times. However as you may know, once you can absorb the information contained in a map, it becomes easier to create a route of your own. If you have ever looked at Foul Weather Alternatives or taken a short cut, then you have created your own walk.

OS Maps

My background has involved following a lot of other people’s routes, and a helpful spell of route checking for the Ramblers. Their training covered areas such as safety, legality, accessibility, topography, themes and focal points on routes. There are then two stages involved in the process of creating a route. One involves looking at the route on your map and in satellite view (which can reveal inaccuracies in the map), and the other is to reccy the route on foot with all these issues in mind.

Harvey Maps

What should a good route involve?

The legality of a route is essential if you are offering it for other people to follow. It is therefore good to familiarise yourself with the symbols which denote what type of track it is; right of way, bridle way etc and any rules and exemptions which apply.

Route signage

Safety is a crucial issue so it is important to be aware of any potential hazards such as river’s in spate, slippery rocks, eroded tracks or obstructions such as fallen trees. You should then try to incorporate these into your route data. 

Fallen tree

In case of access issues and the use of wheeled vehicles, it is helpful to mention any steps or stiles on the route and a note on the condition of the tracks i.e whether they are full of potholes or overgrown.

Boardwalk

Focal Points

The received wisdom when I trained was that a good walk should involve a focal point/s. This could be a view, or historic, natural, sacred, architectural or topographic features in the case of a day hike. In the case of a distance hike there is the opportunity to introduce a theme or feature such as the Pennines (Pennine Way), historic landmarks (Hadrian’s Wall), Abbeys (Borders Abbeys Way) or geographical features such as a river (Speyside Way). A walk could also follow a person’s life (John Muir Trail) or encompass a pilgrimage route (Camino di Santiago).

Steps on St Cuthbert’s Way

Questions

When working from the map, the following questions could be considered when creating a day hike:

  • Are the start and finish accessible?
  • Is the walk is do-able?
  • What are the gradients like?
  • Has it got a gradual start?
  • Does it have variety?
  • Does it include suitable rest places and shelter?
  • Are there any avoidable eyesores?

For a distance hike you could add these questions to your list:

  • How far apart are the resupply points?
  • Where are the water supplies?
  • Is there a variety of accommodation?
  • Is it possible to backpack the route?
  • Are refreshments available?

Summary

This is just a sketch of some of the issues and questions to bear in mind when walking somebody else’s route or creating your own. It can be interesting to evaluate the decisions which have been made for you on pre-existing routes, and to try and improve on them on your own walk. This can become the first step towards creating your own.

With thanks to the Ramblers for the experience, opportunities and training.

Trail Magic

Or why you should walk a long distance trail.

I thought I would write a post regarding my love of walking Trails (listed under the Trails tab) to try and inspire you to walk a trail. After some cogitation I came up with the following factors which have inspired me:

  • You gain a sense of progress which is rare in real life
  • The world is a beautiful place
  • The kindness of strangers who want you to succeed
  • The unique perspective it provides on the places you walk through
  • The community of other hikers
  • The perspective it gives you on life’s problems
  • Nature, nature and nature
  • The sense of freedom and independence it can give you

But somehow this still didn’t convey my love of walking long distance paths. So, here are some pictures:

…..which is when I realised that I could fill a book.

Happy Trails 🏕⛰🏕👣💚 🌹

3 Roman Romps

With the recent opening of The Sill on Hadrian’s Wall, complete with its shiny new Youth Hostel, I decided to put together a collection of day hikes which incorporate some of the excellent Roman sites, such as Housesteads, Vindolanda, Chesters and the Roman Army Museum, along the Northumbrian section of the wall.

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian’s Wall sites in Northumberland

So, if you enjoy history, archaeology, ancient walls, forts, turrets, milecastles and temples, but don’t have the time to do the complete National Trail, Roman Roaming offers three moderate hikes between 5 and 10 miles long. Together they offer a great introduction to this famous World Heritage Site. The page includes maps, photos, videos and GPX downloads.

Housesteads
Housesteads Roman Fort

My GPX Routes

I have been gradually adding day routes onto ViewRanger / Outdooractive 👣 for some time. As long as the routes don’t seem to involve any hazards, I have made them public and free for people to download on an ad hoc basis. As I have realised how helpful good quality downloads can be, I decided to start adding GPX files for all my day routes and publishing some routes retrospectively to replace the slightly vague descriptions I had been giving on early YouTube and blog descriptions. I have also been improving and standardising the route information provided with the downloads.

Viewranger
My Outdooractive profile

There are now over 50 free, downloadable routes on Outdooractive. I am pleased to see that there has been a steady interest in downloading these routes, so I have added links to my blog posts and YouTube. I hope you will find them helpful if you are considering walks in this part of the world, and that they will work well in conjunction with the blog posts and videos.

Salters Road
Hartside to Salter’s Road route map on Viewranger courtesy of Ordnance Survey ©

Happy Hiking. Rose🌹