Although this continues to be a terrible period for many people around the world, the vaccines and the lockdowns have so far given the people here in Edinburgh an opportunity to reclaim their city for a while. Last week I suddenly realised that I may never see places like the Royal Mile without crowds again, so I have been exploring the old town and added some short central walks to my City Strolls on Viewranger / Outdooractive.
I hope you will enjoy these short walks as the restrictions are lifted from tomorrow. Remember to follow the guidelines and leave no trace.
As followers will know, I have been uploading my routes on to the ViewRanger app for several years. Apparently ViewRanger has now merged with the Outdooractive app, which is available from all the usual places. This is a subscription app offering high resolution maps.
Apparently Viewranger routes will remain with them indefinitely but I have now synchronised my routes onto the new app and will run both in tandem for the time being. I hope walkers will benefit from having the choice until I am able to compare the two apps more.
I wish them well at Outdooractive. Links to both sites can be found in the sidebar of this blog and on YouTube, and for Viewranger read Viewranger or Outdooractive in my blogposts. Thanks. 🌹
FYI I am now Rucksack Rosie with an i, rather than Rucksack Rose on all my sites, so the link to my website has changed to rucksackrosie.com just because it feels friendlier somehow. I am not a tech specialist but this may mean you will need to refresh your website links. My YouTube, Viewranger and Outdooractive sites are also now named Rucksack Rosie, although the links to each of them remain the same. Otherwise I am gradually editing the links in my blog so that they continue to work. If you find any broken links let me know. Thanks very much for your continued company.
The hard winter seems to have brought about a bumper spring with an abundance of wild flowers and sunny days up here. I have spent most of the first part of this fruitful year exploring and revisiting the southern part of Northumberland, including Amble and Rothbury. This part of the county is less familiar to me than North Northumberland where I lived for about nine years. However it has been interesting to get to know the area more, revisit older walks and create new ones.
Amble is a bit further up the coast on the main bus route from Newcastle to Berwick. It has a reasonable selection of shops, cafes, and facilities, as well as a busy harbour from which there are boat trips to Coquet Island. Amble Ambles features long and short walks and a trip out to Coquet Island.
Amble isn’t very familiar to me so I felt like an explorer trying to create walks with only the maps and local chat to go on. I am not able to write about this area as intimately as a local person can but I have enjoyed learning more about it.
Rothbury is the site of some of my earliest walks as a teenager and one of my early Rucksack Rose trips in 2012. I have a soft spot for the town which benefits from good facilities, a regular bus service and a great path network radiating from the town centre. My aims here were to add a new walk to my Rothbury Rambles page, and to improve the existing photos and videos on a better camera. It has been a pleasure to revisit these walks and I am quite pleased with how much better the page looks.
Hopefully it won’t be long before I can get further afield to bring you more walking from this season.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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?
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.
I have been digging my old trumpet out and dusting it off to receive this very exciting ViewRanger (Now Outdooractive) award, alongside 9 other distinguished recipients.
Craig Wareham, Co-Founder and CEO of Viewranger, describes the annual award as follows:
‘The Top Publisher Award recognises people, organizations and publishers creating interesting, engaging, and high quality trail guide content. Each year, just ten outdoor organizations and authors receive our top award for contributing outstanding digital content, including route descriptions, turn-by-turn directions and photos to share with the growing outdoor community’
By way of acknowledgement, the ViewRanger app has dragged my blog out of the dusty filing cabinets and card indexes where it was created, and into the digital present. The app provided me with exactly the tools I needed to make my routes accessible to a wider audience and to communicate directly with users.
Thanks to my followers and all at ViewRanger for making it happen for all my Rucksack Rosie sites. Please note that ViewRanger is now assimilated with the Outdooractive app which can be downloaded from the usual places.
As you may know, Northumberland was my previous stomping ground, and I have managed to accumulate a large number of posts, trips and routes in this area (listed under the Northumberland tab).
For those just joining me, there are routes arranged geographically by towns and places including Amble, Bamburgh, Rothbury, Wooler, Breamish Valley and the Farne Islands. There are also routes arranged thematically by their common features such as Roman remains, caves and rock art, waterfalls, castles, coastal and short walks.
I hope you enjoy my blog and all the featured routes. ICYMI GPX files are now available for most of my routes, including all my Northumberland routes, from Outdooractive (formerly ViewRanger).
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.
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.
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.
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.