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Monday 25 April 2011

Aps and Mapping...or One Carole on a Bike

With the onset of good weather I have been out and about on my bike after a gap of about 6 months and having resisted for about 8 years I now have a new phone, one with a camera, mobile internet access and a raft of Apps to delight and bemuse! There is a compass, which has an old school look to it

One of the nice features connected with the phone’s camera is that it will drop a pin in a map every place you take a picture on the phone,

by pulling out the screen you can see the locations in greater detail and it’s a lovely record of a journey, you just need to remember to capture an image at each place you stop!

You can make a screen grab of the map / maps to keep as a record after you’ve downloaded the photos to store elsewhere.

There is a Find My Phone app – very handy so long as someone else’s phone can find mine! There are loads of walking, fitness and calorie counting tools, many of which are free. Many of the walking, cycling apps will also calculate how many calories have been burnt during an outing.

Map My Ride is a very handy app and can also be accessed on the Internet. The app enables you to create a route as you are doing it but it is quite heavy on the battery. Yesterday’s cycle is incomplete as the phone ran out of charge 2 miles before the end and we forgot to add the extra information before saving.

It is also possible to look at the route in satellite format, there are other map options :- Hybrid, Open Street, Terrain, Traffic which gives even more information about unfamiliar locations, the little walking man makes it possible to take the street view.

I have to confess that Map Man has been responsible for designing the routes so far and still loves to mark things out on a good old ordinance survey map. As I am a relative cycling novice I do whinge a bit about hills (well the really big ones) and am not a great fan of cycling through traffic, but my confidence is growing.

Until I feel totally road savvy we have been trying out the most local cycle paths, what a great asset they are! Our last cycle was just over 23 miles at a leisurely pace with stops for exploration, investigation and a spot of picnicking.

The route took us across two different bridle paths one of which was very close to the local railway line; sadly I wasn’t quick enough to catch an image of a train as it coursed through the landscape.

We came across a ruined farm building sitting in a field of oilseed rape, it’s only moments away from being completely consumed by nature. The ground is incredibly dry, there’s been so little rain and yet there is still an incredible lushness everywhere.

We broke our ride in Finedon, in St Mary’s Churchyard, a beautifully kept, romantic place with a fantastic array of time worn head stones,

gargoyles gulping mouthfuls of blue and sun soaked ironstone walls, which spoke of other times and a different pace of life,

a Red Kite circled low enough to make out it’s wing markings.

Over the low walls, in the distance you catch a tantalising glimpse of Finedon Hall, a building which so nearly fell into complete ruin. You can read more and see archive photographs here

Whilst trying to catch a clearer view of the Hall we discovered cottage gardens, drying washing, the tantalising aroma of Sunday lunches, chickens, huge horse chestnut trees in full bloom, a disused scout building and the entrance to Finedon Pocket Park which bears the remains of the railway line that transported the iron ore quarried there between 1939 and 1949. Ironstone is characteristic of Northamptonshire and you can read more about the mining that took place in Burton Latimer (another point on our route) here

This building on the housing development behind the Church was one of the most curious meetings of ancient and modern

Rather than taking the short route home we backtracked across the second bridle path, catching sight of small groups, or couples out walking. We came across what looked as though it might have been some sort of railway building, bearing the ghosts of windows past

and found a row of houses, which might have been railway cottages as they were very close to the existing line

In some ways the whole day felt very Enid Blyton, but in a good way, choosing a slower mode of transport somehow takes you out of present time and creates spaces for contemplation, which may lead to future actions. The past is never the cosy postcard we send to ourselves but these cycling links are well worth a watch if you’re thirsty for a drop of nostalgia.

Cyclists' Special - part one

Cyclists' Special - part two


  1. Lovely pics and interesting article - I've just started cycling again as well, and particularly enjoy the quiet. Haven't gone far enough to warrant use of maps (real or virtual) yet, but one day.
    Love the site colour scheme, incidently, hate being asked for profile to comment...specially as it won't take twitter like the follow.

  2. Lovely, evocative writing. I love the bit about the postcard.


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