Planning where to walk (the Bodmin Moor example)

You can never have enough maps!

After an enjoyable weekend of walking on Bodmin Moor, I thought now would be a good time to share how I go about planning where to walk. You see, when I am off walking (or is it hiking?) in a new place, I have a bit of planning regime. It is a bit sad, but please indulged me.

[This was orginally going to be about the walks themselves, but I got a little distracted – I promised to blog about them tomorrow!]

First – I buy maps. I already had the OS Landranger map for half of the moor but, helped by the combination of the discovery of cheap OS maps on Amazon and Amazon Prime (free next day delivery), it was a mere 24 hours before I had the other OS Landranger, the Bodmin Moor OS Explorer, and several Viewranger map downloads.

I love maps, especially Ordnance Survey maps – something which perhaps harks back to my Geography lessons when I was ten, when I found the map symbols strangly magical. I am not a map geek though – one of my friends takes Ordnance Survey map enjoyment to an extreme, and reading “Map Addict” (review to follow) shows that even he is rather tame in comparison to some map addicts out there. However, whilst not being a map geek, I am rather fond of pouring over maps looking for interesting places to walk.

My much loved, yet long neglected, Out & About walk collection

Secondly – I rumage through my walk compendiums. I have two – the most recent are the walk (ride, cycle, drive, and train) routes that Countryfile magazine dishes out each week (sorted neatly into piles for each area of the country). My older collection is “Out & About” – one of those collectable magazines (are they officially called partworks?) where issue one is 99p, and each subsequent one is significantly more pricey.

As a child, I was allowed one subscription at any one time. Some subscriptions were better than others and, although this one was actually quite good, I can’t actually remember ever actually walking any of the routes with my family. The collection had collected dust in my cupboard until only last year when I rediscovered them whilst my parents were moving house. The routes are nice (albeit quite short) walks, with accomponying OS maps and a summary of the history and wildlife around you.

Bodmin Moor - from Garrow Tor across to Kilmar Tor in the distance

Thirdly – I dive on the internet  to find useful websites with walk ideas, tips and reviews of the area, especially on sites like go4awalk.co.uk which has an excellent selection of printable walks. I also have a browse through the avaliable Viewranger downloadable walks to see what there is on offer.

There weren’t actually many sites with walks on Bodmin Moor – go4awalk had one, but other than generic descriptions of walking on the moor, there wasn’t much to go on elsewhere.  My “Out & About” collection had a short walk from Minions, and the Countryfile cards also had a couple of short walks. Short walks are ok, but if I have any hope of getting fit enough to tackle Offa’s Dyke next year, I need something more challenging (and when camping, it is handy to tire the dog out too!)

It was the “Bodmin Moor” Countryfile walk card which caught my eye, not for the walk itself, but for the mention of Jamaica Inn.

“Step into the landscape that inspired Daphne Du Maurier to write her tale of murder, deceit and smugglers on Bodmin Moor”

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du MaurierIt sounded intriguing, and I was pleased to discover the unabridged audiobook from Audible. At last some inspiration and something to get myself into a suitable mood for Bodmin Moor. It was a thoroughly enjoyable story, and it seemed appropriate to plan walks which relate to areas mentioned in the book. Suddenly everything clicked into place.

Not too far North of Minions is Kilmar Tor, ‘his slope a venomous grey,’ which towers over Tewortha, home to Jem Merlin, the brother of the landlord of Jamaica Inn. Suddenly the short walk from Minons, exploring the old quarrys and the Cheesewring, can be combined with some compass navigation across the moor to Kilmar Tor – an exciting walk!

The second walk chosen was a variation of the go4awalk.co.uk one – which is a fairly strenious 11 mile hike over Brown Willy, the highest point of Cornwall. The walk also takes in, as well as some interesting landmarks like King Arthurs Hall, Rough Tor – the setting for the dramatic scene at the end of the book. The route needed a little adapting, as after looking at the OS maps, I wasn’t completely happy with the start, but it takes in some great parts of the moor.

Planning  good long walks is not easy – most walk guidebooks seem to only included shorter ones, which leaves the dog with far too much energy! But all it takes is a map and some inspiration, and you can easily create some wonderful walks! Both these walks had a nice combination of adventure, enjoyment and exertion , and I look forward to blogging about them tomorrow!

3 Replies to “Planning where to walk (the Bodmin Moor example)”

  1. Hi Sally,

    Although I love maps for route planning, I have to admit to enjoying the practicalities of having a GPS device when out on a walk (with a map in the bag as a backup!)

    I am a massive fan of Viewranger (viewranger.com) – it is a gps system with Ordnance Survey maps, but it runs on your mobile phone (either one with built in GPS or using a Bluetooth dongle).

    The maps are pretty cheap (£20 can get you a good chuck of your surrounding area) and the software is free, so it is a much cheaper alternative to standalone systems. It has loads of features: positioning, route navigation, recording your walks (something I do a lot), plus it integrates with your phone for taking pictures, sharing your location etc.

    You can find a full list of supported phones here: http://www.viewranger.com/vrphonesupport.php

    I hope to do a blog post review giving more details at some point (when I catch up on my post back log!)

    Phil

    (slight disclaimer – Viewranger is a sponsor of Offa’s Dyke 4 MS, but only because we approached them because it is such a great product. Even if they weren’t, I would still sing their praises!)

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