I went for another exploration in the woods today, this time using the Map My Walk app to create an overview of the paths. I also drew another bit of hand drawn map as I walked and attempted to walk every possible bit of path. When I got home, I printed out the route drawn by the app, traced over it and began to transfer some of my ‘landmarks’.
I noticed that the satellite image has a distinct diagonal line. When I looked at an OS map, that also has a few lines marked, which I assume are old boundaries. These seem to correlate with the chicken wire fence that crosses or is visible from several points on the path through the woods. Was the fence there before the woods grew up around it? Why does it create such a distinct line on the satellite image? It’s amazing how an old boundary that probably has no relevance now can still have such an impact on the landscape. There is also a ditch that the path crosses in two places, and I think part of this ditch might be the other diagonal line on the OS map.
I now have a few bits to check and tidy up (for example, the two bits of chicken wire fence near the top left corner probably join up in a straight line and I don’t think I fully explored the path near the lower left corner).
My next step is going to be to come up with my own names for paths and features to help me to remember them and use them to navigate. I’ve already begun with ‘Nick’s bench’, named after the man I met there yesterday who was sitting on a branch balanced between two trees reading a book. I’ve also named a branch that crosses a path as ‘skygazing branch’ because it’s the perfect angle for lying back and gazing up at the small patch of sky that is visible between the trees.
This might turn into a year-long project because some of the features that I’m using as landmarks will not be visible all year, so I might need to find alternatives. For example, at the moment there is a patch where the ground is covered in fallen yellow plums, but I’ll need to find an alternative landmark in the winter. I’d also like to identify the trees and become familiar with how they look in different seasons.
Creating my own map has made me notice maps in other contexts. I particularly liked this map by Sasha Trubetskoy (found in this month’s British Archaeology magazine), depicting Roman roads in the style of a London tube map.
What interesting maps have you come across recently? Do you have favourite locations near you that you’ve given personal names to? Please share in the comments below to inspire me further!