Ambling with Google
At one point, I considered writing a book of walks in Warwickshire and the Cotswolds (i.e. ones easily accessible from the university or nearby). Like many of my hare–brained schemes, it didn't amount to much. A lot of grandiose ideas, and a whole lot of notes on a large number of walks I've been on. Some of the grandiose ideas were quite cool, but sadly they will probably never see the light of day.
At the beginning it was just going to be a book of walks like any other. But soon that idea was too tame. The first innovation was the idea of having a multifunction book of walks. It would consist of a large book with detailed information about the walk, including things to look at, nearby places to have tea, good picnic spots, etc. But because this wouldn't be very portable, there would also be (laminated) pull outs for each walk to actually take with you.
The next innovation was to improve on the idea of including information about where to have tea and good picnic spots – why not focus on the ambling (rather than rambling) aspect of the book, and include picnic concepts and recipes along with the walks. Pretty soon, the book had transmogrified into a lifestyle coffee–table book. It would have recipes, beautiful colour prints of the walks, etc.
As a bit of a geek, technology soon had to make an appearance. Some time ago, I had an idea about a device which incorporated a GPS with topographical maps and a database of walks. You'd take the little handheld device with you on your walk, it would tell you where you are on your walk and where you need to go next. You could also tie it in with other information (like nice pubs, where to get tea, picnic spots, interesting churches or buildings) which would pop up as you walked around. I vaguely remember reading that some of this has actually been done now, although I couldn't tell you who is doing it, and anyway they weren't doing anything like the full range of things I was proposing.
Anyway, at the time I was thinking about it, all this was very speculative and would have taken a lot of money and effort to achieve, but that has changed thanks to Google Earth. GE incorporates the topological maps, has no doubt already been linked to GPS devices and also includes satellite photography and the ability to view the landscape from any position and angle. It's also very easy to add data to Google using its markes, which can link to webpages, pictures, etc. In other words, everything I wanted to do could easily be achieved in GE.
Well, I don't have the time to make a database of all the walks that were going into the book, but I did make time to do just one, to see if the idea would work. This was prompted by Google updating their satellite photography of the Cotswolds (previously very low res, now very high res). I downloaded the OS maps for the region of a walk I went on from Moreton–in–Marsh from the OS web site, superimposed them over the landscape in GE, and used this and my notes to plot exactly where I had walked. So anyway, in conclusion, you can download the google earth .kmz file for the walk by clicking here (press F10 in GE to walk the walk, although you'll probably want to increase the tour speed in GE options, and increasing the elevation exaggeration makes it look more exciting). Here's a picture: