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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Tech comes to Bowland

Abbeystead, starting point for this walk, was the scene of a dreadful explosion in an underground building at the waterworks in 1984 killing 16 of a visiting party of 44.

Although I lived only a few miles away in Preston, and then in Arnside, I have always had an irrational feeling I would somehow be intruding if I went there - the same applies to Lockerbie. However, now browsing the map after the passing of time, I noticed The Wyre Way, a long distance footpath which circumnavigates a bowl of land to the east nestling up to the foot of the Bowland Hills, and I decided to explore on a trip with Tom on Saturday.

The walk is all situated within the Abbeystead Estate which includes Abbeystead House described as a “shooting lodge” when built for the Duke of Sefton in 1886. The estate is now owned by the Duke of Westminster.
Some shooting lodge!
Another notable feature, for nerds only: a few kilometres north-east of our walk, is grid reference SD 6418 5654 close to Whitendale Hanging Stones, and appropriately remote. Somebody with a double degree in goodness-knows-what has calculated this to be the centre of the UK... including the islands!  (Click here), but be warned; this not as simple as you might think.

I have walked over all the summits of these hills in the past, but this valley route gave excellent views from a new perspective, with varied walking, on squelchy fields, Land Rover tracks and Tarmac roads. It would be an idyllic route on a summer’s evening.


                      iPhone and iPad mimi - (FOR TECHIES ONLY).

My iPad mini and iPhone are now loaded with Memory Map OS GB 1:50,000 Complete. 

My only requirements from a gps are to pinpoint myself on the map, and to refer to it as required when navigation is in doubt, so in the interests of battery life I only switch on when needed rather than having it continually recording the route and its attendant statistics.

IPad mini 

In-car use. I navigated (Tom was driving).

GPS signal boots up quickly and remained constant throughout the journey in the car.
Although a conventional sat nav is great when driving alone, navigating with the 1:50,000 OS map as a passenger is a dream: easy to see with instant enlargement or reduction to see greater or magnified areas at the touch of a fingertip, and moving position all the time clear to see.

Backpacking? On this walk it stayed in my rucksack. It's a bit heavy, weighing in at 458g including protective case and charging plug - that is half the weight of my tent!

The camera gives good results, but holding it still is not easy. I still prefer to use a proper camera, and in the past have occasionally remembered to take photos with the iPhone to post on the blog, which can’t be done from the camera in the field (as far as I know). You could decide to use the iPad only and not take a camera thereby saving weight.

Picture viewing is excellent. In the Apple shop I had a demo looking at the same photos on an iPad with Retina Display versus the iPad mini where that facility is not available - I could hardly tell the difference.

You would have the benefit of a backup for your mapping in the event of mobile phone failure. Battery life on the iPad is better than the iPhone. The iPad mapping is much better for forward planning with the ability to see a greater area.

I am not sure how you would carry the iPad on a backpacking trip so that you would have quick and easy access, and after this trip I found the iPhone totally adequate for my needs whilst walking. All in all I think the iPad would be luxury to help with strategic route planning, and valued, as a personal choice for all its other attributes not specifically relevant to walking and navigation.


The iPhone is brilliant in the field. The screen is easy to see, even in bright light, and scrolling is perfection compared with the MM 3500, and I reckon the latter will be redundant from now on. The GPS signal picks up quickly and continues even when in a pocket. 


Centre of UK just visible -small  red spot to north east of the route

The vertical red line is part of the boundary of OS Sheet 102 I have marked on my Memory Map
Clougha Pike and Wards Stone behind foreground hill on right

There are numerous similar markers for the Wyre Way, all with different symbols - we wondered about the significance of the hat on this one - any ideas?

Descending to Tarnbrook - Wards Stone 0n horizon

Tarnbrook Fell - we walked about a hundred metres up this track before we both, simultaneously realised we were off route.

Tarnbrook - an earily isolated hamlet - it seemed like a film set for Tom Jones or The Herries Chronicle

Tarnbrook again

Wolfhole Crag, I think 

Another elaborate Wyre Way marker

Clougha Pike and Wards Stone looking back at the valley bottom we had traversed


Gayle said...

Apparently it is possible (although not cheap) to transfer photos from your camera to your phone in the field. Have a look at Erin's review of the 'AirStash' here:

(Incidentally, it was entirely down to Erin that we came to walk a section of the PCT. Not at all relevant to the subject, but I just thought I'd throw that fact in!)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an interesting walk along the WYRE WAY, there are downloadable maps available for this 45mile route from the coast.
Looks good for a winters walk over 3days.
I read the brown bits but still non the wiser.
Tarnbrook is a lost hamlet. It is however a good centre for walks around Wards Stone etc.
We always parked there to go climbing on Thorn Crag seen above the valley. Years ago we would often be evicted from the rocks by the shooting guardian who lived in the hamlet and was in a good position to spot you. Now with,thankfully, the CROW act access is no problem. The same people who used to shout abuse at us now give us a friendly wave as we walk up to the crags!

Sir Hugh said...

Gayle - Thanks for that. I've had a look and may pursue again if I get round to doing another backpacking trip. I have a love/hate relationship with technology - at the moment I feel like a bit of a rest from it and doing something more creative. I feel another Photoshop painting coming on.

BC- Hi John. I'm glad you enjoyed the WW - I did. I bet you never knew you were within a couple of kilometres of the centre of the UK (including the islands!) when you were climbing on Thorn Crag.

I can see we're going to have to send you on a tech. course.