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A whiff of times gone by

I have to confess that history was never my favourite subject at school, which was a strange sensation for me. I loved school and enjoyed all the other academic subjects, my favourites being mathematics and geography. But history and I just didn’t gel. I found it difficult to concentrate in class, impossible to absorb the various dates and events and failed to see the significance to my life. History simply remained a mystery to me...


That was until my husband and I started walking as a serious hobby and now as a career. We walk all over the country for our web and App walking guides business, iFootpath.  And guess what?  Walking makes history fun! Every landscape tells a story as you are taken on a journey through history with Iron Age hill forts, ancient burial mounds, monastery ruins and old mine workings littered across the countryside.

The idea of being able to appreciate the past from the marks left behind in the landscape brings to mind my fascination with dogs and their senses. On the face of it we share exactly the same five senses as our canine pals: sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. But the reality is that the sensitivity of a dog’s sense of smell opens up a whole new world.

The other four senses – sight, touch, taste and hearing – can only ever really give us reliable information about the here and now. With smell, however, it is another story. Smell can tell us what we cooked in the kitchen last night or that the grass has been freshly cut a few hours earlier.

Imagine then being a dog and being able to take this to the furthest extreme. Dogs possess a sense of smell that provides them with the history of a place, that we as humans can only envy. Imagine being able to tell that a badger passed over a footpath last night or that humans held a BBQ in this clearing last week. Now that really does bring the past to life!

As a human, however, I can now be content with exploring the visual clues within the landscape that reveal its longer term history. I take great joy in discovering the landscapes that inspired JMW Turner to paint, appreciating the sheer effort that must have gone into building some of our finest ancient buildings (often built by hand) or uncovering the industrial heritage that has made Britain the civilised place we know today. 


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default_blogger A whiff of times gone by - iFootpath
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Wednesday, 21 March 2018
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The length of our walking guides is given in miles and rounded to the nearest full mile (whole number) for simplicity. For short walks (of less than 2 miles) or walks that have a length that ends in .5, a more accurate walk length may be given in the first section of the walk introduction. For example, the Length in the header may be listed as 6 miles, and the introduction may confirm that the exact length of the walk is 5.5 miles. The walk length is calculated from the GPS file that was created by the walk author GPS tracking the walk whilst walking, using the iFootpath App GPS Tracker, meaning it is very accurate. Our bespoke tracker is particularly detailed and plots a walkers position about every 10 seconds. The tracker is calibrated to match two other reputable map and walking sources, Ordnance Survey and Nike. As with all standardised walk and map lengths, the distance does not take account of hills and slopes, just the distance you would measure using a piece of string on a flat map version of the terrain, so hilly walks will feel longer than stated. If you track the route using another GPS App or Tracker App or Fitness Device, you can expect the distance you record to be different due to different calibrations. This is particularly true of those Apps and devices that count your motion and steps – these can only guess the distance you have travelled with each step and so are much less accurate.

Grade (Boots)

The grade of a walk is an indicator of how difficult the terrain is that you will encounter along the way. This does not take into account the walk length but does suggest how challenging the walk will be. It takes into account things like hills, path surfaces and obstacles (like stiles, gates, steps and rock scrambles). An easy walk, graded as 1 (and shown as 1 Boot) indicates a walk that is essentially flat, has no sharp hills to climb, has no stiles, is easy to navigate (probably along a well-worn path) and is suitable for most levels of fitness. A difficult walk, graded as 5 (and represented by 5 Boots) indicates a walk that is strenuous and involves steep ascents and/or descents. It may be technically challenging involving difficult terrain or obstacles that require scrambling with your hands. Please note that the grading for walks is subjective and open to interpretation and should only be used as a guide when selecting a walk.

NOTE: Do be aware that the level of stamina required for any walk will vary depending on both the walk length and the difficulty grade - you should only walk within your limits.

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