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The Joy of Walking

Welcome to my second Blog whilst in Lockdown. As you can see from the title it’s about local walks from my home in Abbots Langley- next week the blog will be about LOCAL CYCLING!

Walking has become a more popular pastime for many of us, and to follow the lockdown guidelines, from or close to your own home.

For those of us who are lucky enough to live within easy distance of open spaces this is a marvellous opportunity to get out into the fresh air for some exercise. Even for those who live in the big cities, there are often parks and open spaces in easy reach.

But, other than from existing local knowledge, or by trial and error, how do you devise a walking or running route of say 3 to 6 miles?

You could use the functionality of Strava or other gps based mediums. These are great for recording the route actually followed allowing you to follow the same route again. However, they are not so great for designing your route from scratch.

In my opinion, if you wish to keep off the roads wherever possible, the best way to do this is to use the UK’s Ordnance Survey Maps. These detailed maps on scales of 1:50,000 ( 1 inch to 0.8 miles) and 1:25,000 ( 1 inch to 0.4 miles) are probably the best detailed maps in the world.

You can now access the whole country’s mapping on line at for an annual subscription of £23.99 I believe.

Early morning reflections in the Grand Union Canal near Kings Langley and a watchful heron on The Grand Union Canal

You can zoom into your locality, ideally at 1:25,000 using the map screen bottom right middle icon for ‘OS Leisure Maps’. Footpaths, tracks, bridleways and minor roads can be clearly seen. You can access a key to symbols if you are not familiar with them. Go into ‘Routes’ then ‘Create Custom Routes’ and manually plot any route you like and the colour and line thickness and transparency can be adjusted using the ‘Styles’ icon.

Data on the route plotted will show you total distance and an elevation profile. You will be able to find more functionality if you wish.

You can then print out your map at 1:25,000 ( print to scale, not page fit) onto an A4 sheet and use it to actually guide you around your route.

Alternatively, you can convert the route you have plotted to gps and download onto a garmin or another route tracker. Furthermore, if you have a route already in digital format, you can upload and thereby plot it onto an ordnance survey map and print out. For walking and running, the detail on such maps is far superior to the standard garmin routing. If you have a gps walking device then your routing can be downloadable onto the device which would eliminate the paper map.

As real examples, I have included in this blog, a 5.5mile circular walk from my home in Abbots Langley which you can access from the URL which avoids main roads and is mainly on footpaths and includes 1.5 miles along the Grand Union Canal. This route I discovered just 3 weeks ago by pouring over our local 1:25,000 map as described above. Some of the paths used, I had never walked before, nor even knew existed. It’s amazing what you might find within a couple of miles from your home

Since then I have devised other local routes which are variations of this one, and also just by moving the start a couple of miles (does mean using the car or a bike for 2 miles) you can explore a totally new route and area like the 6 mile circular walk from Kings Langley which you can access from the URL, also along the Grand Union Canal for 2 miles which just touches my original home route at one point , and yet is totally different.

I challenge you to have a look your local 1:25,000 local map and create your own 3 to 6mile route. Remember that to fully access my routes and create your own you would need to subscribe to Ordnance Survey. I would be happy to advise on or even create a route for you to follow.

Just give me a call on 07770 647319 or email

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