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Up, down and all around

Do other people spot more things when out walking than you do? Do you wish you were one of life’s ‘noticers’? How is it that some people have an eye for everything – nature, weather, history, terrain...?


cloud sketch


‘Look at those clouds, it looks like rain is on its way,’ one of your companions will say, while you’re left wondering which direction, exactly, you’re meant to be looking. Sat in the pub after your walk, they will continue, ‘So, do you think there are more or less beech trees than there used to be? We certainly saw plenty of signs of them today, didn’t we?’ Yet it’s winter, you think, so what signs of tree populations are really visible at this time of year?



beech leaf
Our visual perception of any walking journey is all in the choice of the way we use our eyes. As humans, we’ve got just two eyes (more’s the pity!) so we can’t look at everything, all of the time. The human eye is very effective and, on average, we each enjoy a 180-degree forward-facing horizontal field of view and a vertical range of about 135 degrees. We can distinguish about 10 million colours and we enjoy a good perception of depth. Unlike some animals, we do need good levels of daylight to be able to see well, but the detailed richness of our vision is the trade-off for not being able to see in very low light (no matter how many carrots we eat!).


So where is it best to look, and what is there to see? Up or down? Near, middle or far distance? The answer is simple – you need to work hard and do all of the above, swapping between them often. It is all too easy to get trapped in a bubble, looking only at a small area just ahead of you, and missing the myriad of wonders that the landscape has to offer. Over the next few weeks I’ll be exploring the highlights you’ll find in the various heights and depths of vision when you’re out walking. Coming soon...the benefits of looking down!

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Saturday, 24 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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